With the theme Know Diabetes, Fight Diabetes, this year’s national Diabetes Week is all about ensuring that people are able to understand and manage their condition effectively, as well as knowing how and where to access the right support.

What is diabetes? – Type II diabetes is a loss of the ability to control the amount of sugar in the blood which creates continuous and harmful levels of high blood sugar.

Symptoms and diagnosis – These include fatigue, especially after eating, craving for carbohydrates and/or stimulants like coffee and tea, skin tags, increased urination, poor memory/concentration and weight gain. To diagnose the condition, a GP is likely to carry out a blood test to measure HbA1c. If elevated, this indicates a problem with blood sugar.

The good news – Despite what the majority of the medical profession say, the problem is reversible.

How to manage your diabetes

The most common reason for a loss of the ability  to control blood sugar is due to a loss of sensitivity in the cells that would normally take in sugar from the blood and turn it into energy. The technical term for this is insulin receptor resistance. All the cells in the body have receptors on the outside of their membranes that lock together with insulin; when that happens, sugar can travel out of the blood and into the cell.

Insulin receptor resistance develops slowly over time for several reasons:

  • A lack of the correct nutrients to maintain the integrity and health of the receptors
  • Incorrect balance of fats in the body, leading to poor quality of cell membrane structure
  • Lack of nutrients required for the receptor to be activated
  • Excess oxidants in the body, leading to the destruction of cell/receptor function
  • Continued exposure to insulin due to factors like high sugar diet, stimulant intake or stress
  • Poor digestion

In the first instance, it is imperative that all forms of sugar or foods that turn to sugar rapidly (high glycaemic foods) are removed from the diet. This includes artificial sweeteners, low calorie drinks and stimulants (although care is required in case of withdrawal effects). At the same time, it is important to maintain a diet of lots of low glycaemic foods like vegetables (not potatoes) pulses, meat, fish and eggs.

Once a good diet is established, it is important to correct the pointers mentioned above. Tests may be required to find out what your current situation is regarding the reasons for insulin resistance.

To find out more about diabetes, its symptoms and treatment, go to www.diabetes.org.uk.