Of course the first step is to seek the advice of your GP surgery. And then hopefully come to the support group meetings!
Next, please understand that the information on this web site is given in good faith. We are not medical professionals and before making any changes to tackle Type 2 diabetes you should seek medical advice.
It’s about being heavier than your body can manage
Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University led the team that made significant breakthroughs in the understanding of Type 2 diabetes and how to move to a state of remission. In his book “Life without diabetes” – details below – he describes how
“Most people can deal with excess amounts of food without getting diabetes. The arbitrary cut-off which defines ‘obesity’ has nothing to do with type 2 diabetes: you do not have to be obese to develop the condition. You simply have to be susceptible to excess fat… in the wrong place.”
When we are in our early 20’s we are at peak condition. However as we age we inevitably put on weight. The liver controls the fat in the body and where it is stored. Once all the other storage options are full, the excess fat the body doesn’t need accumulates in the liver and pancreas. If your genetic make-up means that you are susceptible to Type 2 diabetes, the accumulated fat in the pancreas slows down the production of insulin, the hormone that controls the blood glucose within your body. As the blood glucose rises it causes fine blood vessels in your body to deteriorate. This can lead to feet problems (numbness so you don’t feel damage), eye problems (loss of vision), and heart disease.
Don’t believe it?
Many people, including some in our support group, are below average weight and build. But according to Professor Taylor they are heavier than their body can manage. So whether you are obviously overweight or not, the important thing is to lose some weight. The body then can sort itself out, reducing the fat in the pancreas and liver, restoring your metabolism back to normal. Professor Taylor recommends a weight loss target of 15 kg (2 stone 5 lbs), or if you are under 70 kg – 11 stone – a reduction of 10 kg (1 stone 6 lbs).
There are many ways to diet and lose weight, and several have been successfully used by group members. The most popular has been the low-carb high-fat diet, as we tend to eat far more carbohydrates than the body needs and they are rapidly absorbed into the body causing spikes in blood glucose levels. But any diet that maintains the nutrients required by the body should have a similar effect. After losing the weight then maintaining it is equally important, otherwise a return to your old ways will allow your diabetes to return.
An interview with Professor Roy Taylor
There’s also a great 25 minute interview with Prof. Roy Taylor available on the BBC Sounds web site at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p081yhz9 in which he explains most of the content of his new book.
The following resources are a great source of information and advice:
Diabetes UK www.diabetes.org.uk is the main diabetes charity in the UK, and offers a wealth of advice. In addition there is a free confidential telephone helpline. If you are new to diabetes, we recommend you take a look at the Learning Zone and Diabetes and Me.
Diabetes UK also has a YouTube Channel with lots of simple explanations about diabetes, managing the condition, and funded research.
You don’t need to be a member of Diabetes UK to use their services, but if you can we ask that you join, which is by donation rather than a membership fee. As well as information and support, Diabetes UK fundraises for various activities including research funding. The HI Diabetes Support Group is affiliated to Diabetes UK.
Confusingly there is another web site you will find, and there is no connection with Diabetes UK. The web site www.diabetes.co.uk publishes daily news and information guides on diabetes management, research and living with diabetes.
Support is offered by an active web forum, with the usual warning that a very wide range of people are commenting.
Another web site Diet Doctor https://www.dietdoctor.com which claims to be the world’s largest keto and low-carb site. “We show no ads, take no industry money, and sell no products. Ever. We are doctors, dietitians, and other experts here to help you dramatically improve your health.”
With no advertising that means if you want the full site content you have to pay a subscription of $9.99/month, although a 1 month trial is free.
Free to access though are recipes for low-carb bread including videos of how to make!
(remember you can buy these in real bookshops, not just on-line!)
The 8-week Blood Sugar Diet, Dr Michael Mosley
The best selling book that explains the science of the remission of Type 2 diabetes and how to reverse it yourself. There are many companion books covering recipes, exercise etc., plus a web site with more much of the content of the book for free. https://thebloodsugardiet.com
Life Without Diabetes, Professor Roy Taylor
Subtitled “The definitive guide to understanding and reversing your type 2 diabetes”, this book, just published, is written by the man who in 2006 found the missing piece of the jigsaw explaining that Type 2 diabetes was reversible. He then ran the team at Newcastle University in a series of studies and trials to provide the evidence that has changed medical opinion worldwide. This is far from a text book, explaining how you can reverse your diabetes. It also answers many questions frequently asked – Why is my glucose level high before breakfast?, I am not obese so why do I have Type 2 diabetes, etc.
Coaching via smart phone apps
Low Carb Programme
The Low Carb Program is an accredited platform that helps you make lifestyle changes that can improve your health. It offers advice on how to manage your diabetes and information on all aspects of your condition.
The information can be personalised depending on your needs and covers sleep, stress, mental health, stopping smoking and blood glucose testing.
A team of mentors will help you set achievable targets and offer advice and support to help you reduce your blood glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as your weight.
You can use the Low Carb Program app to browse over a thousand recipes and meal plans, track your progress, stay up-to-date, and find support from a global community of more than 400,000 people.
Your GP or nurse will provide you with a free access code if the Low Carb Program is available via referral in your area.
Other coaching apps
There are other apps available. Changing Health https://www.changinghealth.com is only available by referral at the moment.
Food and Drink
It makes sense when you start a diet to monitor the amount of calories and carbs you consume each day to compare with your target. Once you get the idea, maybe in a month or two, monitoring is less important, unless you stop losing weight and need to check if you are cheating!
There is an excellent series of books from Carbs & Cals https://www.carbsandcals.com to help here. Just look up what you are about to eat and the portion size and there are the amount of calories and carbs! Again to do the job properly you need to record what you are eating, either with good old pen and paper, or a phone app!
There are lots of apps, such as LoseIt!, Nutracheck and Carbs & Cals app . Do check out free versions before subscribing to premium versions, as you may not need all the features. Some also allow you to scan food barcodes so you don’t even have to type. And often desk-top applications are included too.
If you plan to lose weight, we’ve been told more than once by invited speakers to our meetings that monitoring and feedback is a very strong way to stay motivated and achieve targets. Some people never weigh themselves, some weigh daily, some weekly. Whatever you decide record it somehow. If you are losing a little weight each week that’s great, it’s working! If you aren’t then better check if you are eating the right food in the right quantities.
Of course these days you can monitor just about everything in phone apps. Apple’s Health app and Android equivalents will keep track for you.
In the books referred to at the top of this page you will read that you don’t have to be obese to suffer Type 2 diabetes, so just monitor your weight. If you have belly fat to lose, then measure and monitor your waist. An easy way to do this is to wear the same belt weekly and hopefully watch yourself having to use one more hole tighter when you do it up!
If you do want to know the well known “measure” of obesity BMI – Body Mass Index – then you can calculate it here.
You can measure your blood glucose at home with a meter. These are normally only supplied to those with Type 2 diabetes who have to take strong medications. If you are going ahead to adopt a low-carb lifestyle then you may be able to get one. If not you can buy them in pharmacies and supermarkets. They seem good value at £15-25, but be warned that the consumables you need are relatively expensive. 50 test strips are often £15, but you can make these last by testing daily and then weekly before breakfast for instance. Diabetes UK have a helpful guide here.
It’s recommended that when moving to a low-carb lifestyle that you make sure you are exercising enough. This can be as simple as just taking a 30 minute walk a day. Tick off the exercise in a diary, or use an app – many of the ones already mentioned include the number of steps taken each day.
Check out the resources page for information on local schemes to help you exercise, or join a local walking group!