ONE person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every three minutes – with 3.8 million sufferers in the UK.
But experts estimate a staggering one million are unaware they have the condition, which occurs when the body loses the ability to process sugar.
One million Brits don’t know they have type 2 diabetes, experts estimate[/caption]
It is a leading cause of blindness, amputation, impotence and heart disease – and in 90 per cent of cases it’s triggered by being overweight.
With figures showing two in three Brits are overweight or obese, it means that more than 12 million adults are at an increased risk of being diabetic.
Type 2 diabetes is different from type 1 – which you tend to be born with and is not lifestyle related.
But, that also means that type 2 can often be easier to miss as it develops more slowly – especially in the early stages.
What can you do to reverse type 2 diabetes?
First off, not all cases are caused by weight and some of us are more prone to developing the condition than others.
And even if you do manage to put the condition into remission, there’s no guarantee that your diabetes is gone forever.
But you can reverse your symptoms and prevent further damage.
Diabetes UK’s scientists say that storing too much fat in the liver and pancreas affects how the condition develops and that losing that fat can help put it into remission.
They say that losing 15kg significantly increases your chances of type 2 diabetes remission.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all diet, the charity recommends following the Mediterranean diet or a low-carb plan that keeps sugar intake low.
Even losing as little as 5% of your body weight, when you’re overweight, can have huge benefits for your health. Losing extra weight can lead to:
- fewer medications
- better blood sugar levels
- a lower risk of complications
If left untreated it can be incredibly serious and lead to major organ damage, including heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys.
However, if it’s caught, it can be put into remission – but this involves recognising the lifestyle factors that may have contributed to it.
Some of the common signs aren’t very obvious and could be caused by other things, so won’t necessarily mean you have diabetes.
But it’s worth knowing them so that if you’re concerned you can contact your GP, who can run some tests to find out.
Here, nutritionist and fitness instructor, Cassandra Barns lists the five warning signs to look out for…
1. Feeling tired
We’ve all woken up and felt the need to hit the snooze button a couple of times – usually after a few too many late nights or a stressful week.
But we’re talking serious fatigue – particularly after meals – that doesn’t go away after rest.
Cassandra says: “Of course, feeling tired can have many causes.
“But it can be an indication that your body is not efficiently taking glucose (sugar) into your cells to use for energy, meaning your blood sugar level stays high.”
2. Feeling unusually thirsty
It’s normal to feel thirsty when you’re dehydrated.
But excessive thirst, called polydipsia, is a key warning sign of diabetes.
“When your blood sugar levels are high, water is pulled out of your cells into your bloodstream to dilute the sugar,” Cassandra explains.
“So, you may feel very thirsty even if you’re drinking plenty of water… and may have to pee a lot.”
3. Feeling very hungry – even if you’ve just eaten
An increase in hunger is usually a response to normal things such as intensive exercise or simply having not eaten for a while.
It typically goes away once we’ve had a nice, nutritious meal.
But for those who don’t feel full after eating or are consuming food more regularly than normal, it could be a sign of diabetes.
Cassandra says: “Just like tiredness signals, you’ll get hunger signals if glucose is staying in the blood and not being taken into your cells.
“Your body thinks it’s because it hasn’t eaten.”
4. A ‘spare tyre’
We might all be a little guilty of putting on a few extra pounds, especially during lockdown.
But if that weight gain is around your middle then it could potentially be a warning sign, according to Cassandra.
“Weight gain around the abdomen is an indication that your blood sugar levels could be high and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes,” she says.
Thrush is a common yeast infection that can affect the genitals or skin in both men and women.
The fungus tends to grow in warm, moist conditions and develops if the balance of bacteria changes.
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It’s usually harmless but uncomfortable and can be another warning sign of diabetes.
Cassandra says: “High blood sugar levels can change the bacterial balance in vaginal fluids and encourage the growth of candida, leading to thrush.”
For men it can cause pain around the head of the penis, redness, irritation discharge and sex or peeing can be painful.