Having type 2 diabetes makes people more vulnerable to developing severe symptoms of any viral infections, such as covid or the flu.
With over, 4.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK, with 90% of those with type 2, we spoke to GP Dr. Sarah Brewer, working in association with CuraLin, a natural diabetes supplement, to share her expert advice on how to stay healthy in 2022.
Follow a low GI diet
If you eat too many refined carbohydrates (found in sugary foods and white, processed foods such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes, biscuits, etc) your blood glucose levels will rise and your insulin needs increase.
If you are also overweight, this may lead to poor glucose control, so cut back on foods that contain rapidly digested carbohydrates and that can cause glucose levels to rise, such as sugary foods, biscuits, cakes, donuts, cornflakes, pastries, white bread and potatoes.
Select wholegrain foods rather than white/beige foods so that, overall, you are following a low glycaemic index diet.
Aim to lose some excess weight
Watch portion sizes and aim to lose at least some excess weight. When you are overweight, fat builds up in your liver, causing it to produce too much glucose even if you are already obtaining too much in your diet.
Excess fat also spills over from your liver to your pancreas where it accumulates and switches off the genes that regulate insulin production and this is now believed to trigger type 2 diabetes.
For example, men in the healthy weight range for their height are seven times less likely to develop diabetes than those who are obese, while women of a healthy weight are a massive 27 times less likely to develop diabetes.
Check your waist
Many people with type 2 diabetes first go through a stage in which their insulin levels are high and their ability to handle glucose is poor.
They tend to store fat around their waist (apple-shaped), have raised blood fat levels (triglycerides), high blood pressure and increased blood stickiness.
This cluster of findings, known as metabolic syndrome, can mean you are at increased risk of developing diabetes – as many as four out of five with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes if they do not modify their diet and lifestyle.
You could have prediabetes if your waist measures more than: 94cm (white European males), 90cm (South Asian or Chinese males) or 80cm (females).
Losing excess fat (which usually involves cutting back on excess, unnecessary calories such as those found in sweet foods) can greatly improve your insulin production and help other body cells – especially muscle cells – to respond better to insulin so your glucose control improves.
Opt for healthy fats
There is a move away from low-fat diets towards sensible intakes of healthy fats (fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil) such as those found in the Mediterranean style of eating.
Eggs are allowed. Eat at least two portions of fish per week, of which one should be oily (e.g. herring, mackerel, salmon, fresh tuna, sardines, pilchards).
Studies show that people eating a high-fat diet lost more weight than those following a high-carbohydrate diet, even though those consumed more calories.
This is because grains and processed carbs are quick sources of fuel for the body, and trigger the release of insulin hormone which allows any excess calories to enter fat cells where they are stored as fat.
This suggests that the most effective way to lose weight long-term is to focus on cutting out processed carbohydrates, not calories.
Following a diet that contains fewer carbohydrates, and more of the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, olive and rapeseed oils plus more fruit and vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to lose weight.
Get your steps in
Exercise is key as it stimulates your metabolism, burns more glucose as fuel and improves insulin resistance as well as helping you lose excess fat.
Regular exercise helps to lower total cholesterol by burning it as fuel and has beneficial effects on the liver that stimulate the production of ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol.
Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking, cycling dancing or gardening) throughout the week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
As you get fit, aim to do more – ideally the equivalent of an hour’s brisk walking on most days.
Try Ayurvedic herbs
Ayurveda, the ancient healing system that has been treating chronic conditions for thousands of years is making a resurgence.
Herbs are a key component of Ayurveda and are key used for the regulation of blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and other diabetic complications.
Bitter melon, for example, contains a chain of amino acids known as polypeptide-p, which is structurally similar to insulin and can reduce glucose levels, reduce glucose absorption from the diet and reduce the production of glucose in the liver, so that blood glucose levels improve.
Others, such as Turmeric and Fenugreek improve insulin release from the pancreas or activate insulin receptors to reduce insulin resistance.
A herbal supplement called CuraLin (£59, www.curalife.com) combines nine different Ayurvedic herbs that have a range of beneficial effects on glucose control and metabolism.
Together, these work in synergy, and as a result, users report that their glucose control quickly improves and, in some cases, normalises within 4 weeks.
Users also report reduced cravings for sweet food, and experience improved energy, sleep, and general quality of life.
NB. If you are taking any medication, however, always talk to your doctor before taking supplements and follow their advice.