Did you catch Sweet Life editor Bridget McNulty when she returned to the Expresso show on SABC3 to talk about Type 2 diabetes? Here’s an excerpt of the interview in case you didn’t… Watch Bridget try to remember everything she can about Type 2 diabetes, on air!
The interview covers the causes of Type 2 diabetes, who is most at risk and why, the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes to look out for, and what food to eat to help combat Type 2 diabetes. Check out the previous interview here.
Prefer reading? Here’s an excerpt of the interview:
1. What causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Although Type 2 diabetes is known as a lifestyle disease, which means that poor lifestyle choices cause it, there is also a strong genetic component. So if you have family with Type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to get it – it can be hereditary. There’s not much you can do about that but there’s a lot you can do about your lifestyle.
Poor lifestyle choices like eating a lot of processed, sugary, fatty foods (junk food, essentially) and not exercising, smoking and drinking too much all elevate your risk of Type 2 diabetes developing. Being overweight is also a risk factor, especially fat around the middle. These all lead to insulin resistance, which means your body can’t process insulin properly. This is one of the main causes of Type 2 diabetes. The other cause is when your body doesn’t make enough insulin.
2. Who is most at risk and why?
People who lead a sedentary lifestyle – not exercising – and making bad food choices – too much sugary, processed food. White bread, white rice, pasta, chips, chocolates, pies, sweets, cooldrinks – all the delicious stuff that’s bad for you.
3. What are the symptoms to look out for?
There are 5 common symptoms of diabetes: extreme thirst, extreme hunger, needing to pee a lot (especially at night), exhaustion and blurry vision. If you have any of these symptoms you should get a fingerprick blood test – it takes less than 5 minutes at your local clinic or pharmacy and will tell you if you’re at risk of developing diabetes.
4. Nutrition-wise, which types of foods can help combat type 2 Diabetes?
All the healthy stuff! High fibre, whole foods. Fresh fruit in moderation, loads of vegetables, some good carbs that are low GI and high fibre, good quality protein. No junk food, no cooldrinks, no cakes, sweets, biscuits, chips. If you think of your plate as a circle, half of it should be filled with vegetables or salad, 1/4 with good quality protein (fish, chicken, meat, eggs) and 1/4 with high-fibre carbs, with some good quality fats (like olive oil or avocado). If you’re Banting, this will be a different proportion, but it’s the same idea: good quality, healthy, whole food.
Earlier today, a mom messaged me on our diabetes community Facebook page, Diabetic South Africans, to say that she desperately needed strips for her Type 1 diabetic son. Their local clinic had run out and they didn’t have money to buy strips, and she didn’t know where else to turn.
I put the request out on our page to see if anyone living near her could help.
Within 15 minutes, someone in her town had offered extra strips, and someone in nearby Joburg had offered to courier her spare strips and a spare meter. A few minutes later, someone else had offered more strips and insulin if necessary, and someone else had offered to buy a month’s supply of strips.
I actually feel quite emotional about it – I am in awe at people’s generosity.
And this couldn’t have happened anywhere else, because only fellow diabetics would understand the panic of not having test strips and not being able to test your blood sugar, and not knowing when you would get strips. It’s the absolute worst feeling, and now this boy doesn’t have it because of the Diabetic South Africans community.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. And if you haven’t joined us yet, please do.
Bridget McNulty, editor of Sweet Life diabetes community, was recently interviewed on the Expresso show on SABC3.
The segment was about what Type 2 diabetes is, how it is caused, what to do to prevent Type 2 diabetes and how to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.
What is diabetes?
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. They are all related to how insulin is used in the body. In people without diabetes, when you eat your pancreas releases the perfect amount of insulin to match the food you’ve eaten. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas releases very little (or no) insulin so insulin injections are necessary. In Type 2 diabetes, either not enough insulin is being produced or the insulin that is being produced isn’t being used properly – the body is insulin resistant.
Insulin is so important because it acts as a key that unlocks the cells. When you eat, food is broken down into glucose, which is absorbed into your bloodstream. Insulin transports the glucose from the blood to the cells of the body, where they are used as fuel – as energy. People with diabetes have impaired insulin function, which means that if they are not in good control. their blood glucose gets higher and higher – this can lead to complications like blindness, amputation and kidney failure. But only if you don’t look after yourself! It is possible to live a perfectly happy, healthy life with diabetes.
What causes Type 2 Diabetes?
There is a strong genetic component, but Type 2 is often called a lifestyle disease because it is strongly linked to a poor lifestyle – being overweight (particularly around the belly), eating the wrong kind of food (junk food, lots of refined carbohydrates, fizzy drinks etc) and not exercising. If caught early enough, Type 2 can be reversed with a healthy diet, weight loss (if necessary) and exercise. (Type 1 can never be reversed). If lifestyle modifications don’t help, the treatment is generally insulin pills and eventually insulin injections. But the earlier you are diagnosed the better it is, because your body has not been damaged – that’s why we always promote getting your blood sugar checked. It’s a simple, fingerprick blood test at your local clinic or pharmacy.
Is stress a contributing factor – and how?
We all know that stress is bad for us. When it comes to diabetes and how the hormones function in the body, stress releases stress hormones like cortisol which raise blood sugar to give you an energy boost in times of danger (I’m not a doctor, but I’ve experienced this a lot myself). There are a lot of studies being done at the moment about prolonged stress, anger, anxiety, depression, poor sleep and how they relate to diabetes, but nothing has been proven yet.
What diet and lifestyle changes need to be made to fight diabetes?
Funnily enough, the kind of diet and lifestyle changes we should all be making – whether or not we have diabetes. A balanced diet with lots of fresh food and no refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, cakes, biscuits, etc), no juice or fizzy drinks, no fast food. Plenty of water, little alcohol, no smoking. Regular exercise – the recommendation is 30 mins 5 times a week, and it doesn’t have to be anything hectic, it can just be walking around the block and getting faster as you get fitter. And losing weight if necessary. Also regular sleep and keeping your stress down. It’s a recipe for health for anyone!
Diabetes and diet is a hot topic at the moment because of Banting and the wonderful results many people with Type 2 diabetes have had on it. At Sweet Life we don’t recommend a particular diet, we give everyone the facts so that they can decide for themselves. What works for one person may not work for others.