Around 5 million people in the UK have diabetes, and 90% of those have type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes by far. A further 13 million people in the UK are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and so it becomes a national health concern, one which we are very much determined to help.
Explore what causes this common illness, how to manage it and when it is appropriate to speak to a GP about any concerns.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which a person’s blood sugar levels become too high and remain that way for too long. It relates to the function of the pancreas and the ability to produce insulin, the chemical which your body uses to carry sugar around the bloodstream to be turned into energy for your cells. There are two main categories of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 – When a person’s immune system turns against itself and attacks the cells that produce insulin. This means your body can’t process the sugar it intakes which leads to the level of sugar in the blood rising dramatically and dangerously.
Type 2 – The most common type of diabetes is one that can form over time and comes about due to the body not producing enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced doesn’t perform its job efficiently enough, leading to a build-up of sugar in the blood.
Whilst diabetes and illness are never the fault of the individual, there is some good news with Type 2 diabetes as it has been found that changes in lifestyle can have a great effect on managing and lessening symptoms and even putting people into remission if the changes are consistent.
So, what symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes might you experience?
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes don’t necessarily make you unwell and so many people can have diabetes without realizing it. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Frequent urination, more than usual and particularly at night time
- A constant feeling of thirst
- A constant sense of feeling very tired
- Losing weight without attempting to, or making any changes to lifestyle at all
- Itching around the genitals, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts and wounds take a long time to heal
- Blurred vision
So, if you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, it may be time to get checked by a GP to see if you have diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed read on to discover some tips on how to manage and improve your symptoms with lifestyle changes.
Tips on Managing Type 2 Diabetes
So why do lifestyle changes help with managing Type 2 diabetes?
As the main issue here is blood sugar levels and how they affect our capacity to function and even our nervous system, we have to look at how much sugar we are in taking, but also what are we doing to use that sugar up.
Sugar in this sense means glucose, it is found in carbohydrates such as starch and fruits as fructose and other forms of sugar.
If our bodies are constantly taking in sugar, which is a given in today’s modern diets, but we are not offering our bodies enough opportunities to release and use up that sugar, the mechanisms for dealing with sugar in the body can become slow to react or overworked by how much sugar they are trying to process.
This stress in turn can prevent the pancreas from functioning altogether, or mean that the insulin they produce hasn’t been produced properly and therefore can no longer process the glucose levels in the body.
So, an active and healthy body with adjustments to our diet can help to manage both our intake of sugar and how our body uses that sugar efficiently and effectively.
Food and Diet
When you have type 2 diabetes you are not restricted in what you can eat but you will have to put limits on how much you eat.
The simplest recommendation therefore is to eat a wide range of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, along with starchy foods such as pasta. Sugar, salt and fats should be kept to a minimum, though not cut out altogether as your body needs a small amount of each to function each day.
And make sure you eat during the day, there have been studies that show eating later at night can lead to confusion in the body’s internal clock, causing it to store up fat more often than when eating during active day light hours when the body’s internal clock expects to eat.
Any change in your diet will be more manageable and easier on your system if you start by making small changes each week, and always feel free to reach out to a dietitian if you need further help in planning and regulating meals.
An active lifestyle lowers your blood sugar level. It uses up the sugar in your blood and informs the body that it needs to use the energy it has stored up. If the body is constantly needing to use sugar, it will help the internal processes start working effectively again to meet this new demand for more energy.
Around 2 and a half hours of activity per week is recommended, but daily exercise and activity are best to let your body know it will always need to be processing and using up the glucose in the system.
A daily walk of 30 minutes can take you to three and a half hours per week and give you a nice bit of fresh air and exercise on a daily basis, which has its own positive benefits on the mind and body.
You can also include the time you spend climbing stairs, walking quickly, or simply to and from work, and the more strenuous housework and gardening you might undertake. The key we are looking for in activity is something that gets you out of breath.
A person’s weight is also linked to Type 2 diabetes, and this can be for similar reasons to those mentioned above. If our eating habits have become irregular to our natural pattern, eating late into the night, lots of fatty and sugary foods, and if our lifestyle doesn’t demand activity, the build-up over time can lead to type 2 diabetes.
And so, adjusting our diet, and incorporating more activity into our lives, even if our daily work doesn’t demand it, can assist in losing weight, staying healthy and lessening the impact and risk of forming type 2 diabetes.
When To See A GP
You should always see a GP if you have health concerns, it is what they are there for. If any of the symptoms above seem to describe you, then we would encourage you to speak to a GP and let them check you for diabetes or other conditions it may be.
At Private GP Services, we offer full health screenings that are discrete, confidential and professional and can help spot any problems that might otherwise go unnoticed, including Type 2 Diabetes. Our wonderful team of professionals can then assist and support you in finding the best treatment options moving forward to ensure you can be the healthiest version of yourself you can be.
We are here to help, please reach out today to book a consultation or health screening with us, and let us take care of the rest.