Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

According to the WHO, approximately 220 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide. It is estimated that in 2011 there were about 180,000 people, of all age groups, with diabetes in Ireland (Type 1 and Type 2 populations combined), with a further 50,000 people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. More worryingly, according to Diabetes Ireland, there are at least a further 130,000 people in Ireland who have pre-diabetes (borderline diabetes), half of whom will develop Type 2 diabetes in the next 5 years unless they make lifestyle changes.

There are two types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) is a chronic condition, which requires insulin injections. The condition develops when an autoimmune reaction causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin. When the pancreas does not produce insulin, cells can’t use sugar. There is nothing you can do to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are extreme thirst, frequent urination, sugar in the urine, an acetone like smell around the body, fatigue and substantial weight loss over a short period of time. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed before the age of 40.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes is more common and accounts for over 90% of all diabetes cases around the world. It is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. People with this type of diabetes produce too little insulin or the insulin they produce cannot work properly because their body has become resistant to insulin. Almost every one of us could develop Type 2 diabetes if we gain enough weight. This form is more common in people over the age of 40 years but it is becoming alarmingly more common in young people as childhood obesity is now on the increase. Obese people and people who have a relative suffering from the disease are more likely to be affected. Approximately 90% of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. Half of the cases of Type 2 diabetes are without symptoms and can only be discovered with testing sugar (glucose) in the urine or blood.

You are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if:

  • You are over 40.
  • You are overweight.
  • You have a family history of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and it has been estimated that it begins to develop approximately seven years before it is diagnosed. This means that unknown high blood sugar levels are silently causing damage to the body. At diagnosis a person can often present with one or all of the following symptoms: bad eyesight, pains in feet and hands, extreme tiredness, unnatural thirst, ulcers on legs. In advanced cases, the first symptom can be a heart attack or stroke.

Over time diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Common Consequences of diabetes:

  • Heart disease and stroke: 50% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease.
  • Retinopathy: This results from accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina and is a common cause of blindness.
  • Kidney failure: This results in 10-20% of diabetic-related deaths.
  • Neuropathy: This is damage to the nerves as a result of diabetes, and affects up to 50% of people with diabetes. Although many different problems can occur as a result of diabetic neuropathy, common symptoms are tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet and hands. It can lead to foot ulcers and limb amputation, especially when combined with poor circulation.

The overall risk of death for people with diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes.

TREATMENT:

Type 1 Diabetes has to be treated with insulin injections. However, with specific dietary changes, medications can be significantly reduced.

Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed with simple lifestyle measures. To help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications, you should:

  • Watch you weight: Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is essential in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
  • Exercise: At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet.

VLCD IN THE TREATMENT OF DIABETES

Although traditionally it is thought that a healthy eating plan is the best course of action for diabetes treatment, new research carried out by Diabetes UK found that following a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) is effective in reversing Type 2 diabetes. The study found that a simple eight-week intensive diet followed by a healthy eating plan could reduce the need for years of expensive medication. Here in our clinic we have devised a Very Low Calorie Diet plan that has been successfully used by several of our clients to drastically improve their overall glucose levels (HbA1c levels) in a matter of weeks. Anyone with a medical condition and especially diabetics should always follow this type of diet under medical supervision.