Diabetes Type 2 strikes when insulin in the pancreas doesn’t work properly, or the pancreas is not making enough insulin. This causes a rise in glucose levels in the blood which, if untreated, can lead to heart disease and strokes, kidney disease, liver failure, blindness and damage to nerve endings in the feet.
Sticking to a very low calorie diet is hard at the best of times, but keeping your weight on track is twice as tough if you have high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes UK found that half of overweight Type 2 diabetics on a radical NHS calorie-restricted diet trial were in remission within a year. So here are Dr Brewer’s tips on how you can further support a low calorie diet with Type 2 diabetes.
Your GP may often refer you to a dietician to help with weight loss. Choosing low-GI, more plant-based foods can particularly help manage glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, as well as foods low in saturated fat, salt and sugar.
Alongside referrals to dieticians, there are also moves for GPs to ‘prescribe’ exercise to help Type 2 diabetics to lose weight, such as that offered by local Park Run schemes.
NICE guidelines recommend:
- At least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity per week, such as brisk walking or cycling (in bouts of 10 minutes or more); or
- 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (such as running or playing football) spread over the week.
Weight gain around the abdomen could be an indication of high blood sugar levels (and is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes), so choose exercise that particularly targets this area.
To improve and balance glucose levels, some GPs may support the use of herbal medicines, such as CuraLin – a blend of 10 traditional Ayurvedic medicinal herbs, including bitter melon, fenugreek, amla fruit and turmeric. By combining different herbs that work in different ways, glucose tolerance can improve.
Ensure that your alcohol intake is within healthy limits, or even give up altogether for a while, and measure the difference in your weight, blood sugars and mood. Not only is alcohol high in calories and carbs, but reducing your intake will also increase your will power to resist unhealthy foods!
Feeling very hungry after eating?
Take note if you’re getting hunger signals even after you have eaten; it could be a sign that glucose is staying in the blood and not reaching your cells to give you energy. So when your body thinks you haven’t eaten, your muscles and other tissues send a ‘hunger’ message, trying to get more energy into the body. This needs to be addressed and doesn’t mean you should give in to the ‘hunger’!