Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that’s on the increase in the UK. It is preventable though, and manageable if you already have it
Around 2.8 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes and, of this, 90 per cent suffer from type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes and adult-onset diabetes. Those with the condition are unable to control levels of glucose in the blood because they’re not producing adequate levels of insulin, or the body isn’t reacting to it. Type 2 diabetes can result in heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation, so it’s vital you look out for it.
People aged over 40 are more at risk of getting type 2 diabetes, although it often manifests itself in people of black or South Asian origin as early as 25. This group is also four times more likely to develop the condition. Worryingly, it is becoming more prevalent in children and teens, so it’s something all age groups and ethnicities need to be mindful of. It’s thought that there are around one million people in the UK living with type 2 diabetes, but unaware of it.
Prevention is better than cure
Although genes can play a part in your susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, it’s still possible to reduce your chances of getting it. A diet rich in wholegrains and low in processed carbohydrates is recommended.
Avoid sugary drinks, opting for water, tea or coffee instead – some evidence suggests that coffee may actually help protect against diabetes. Say no to trans fats (found in some baked produce and margarines) and head for polyunsaturated fats (in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds) instead. Go easy on processed and red meat, eating poultry or fish instead.
Take some form of regular exercise - a recent study from Bath University revealed that a minute of exercise each day could improve insulin function by 28 per cent in just six weeks, helping to keep diabetes at bay. Keep your weight in check and if you’re a smoker, quit – see Quit smoking today. If you suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol, medication designed to lower these can also help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Living with it
If you already have type 2 diabetes, there’s still much that can be done to improve your body’s response to insulin. Start by following the healthy living advice above. There’s a huge amount of medication available to sufferers of type 2 diabetes, issued in tablet form as well as in shots (for injection). If you think you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes, or may already be suffering from it, don’t delay, book an appointment with your GP today.