As the UK marks Diabetes Week 2021 nutritional therapist Caroline Peyton has some tips to support those living with Type 2 diabetes (T2D), which makes up 90 per cent of those who have the condition.
Across the UK there are an estimated 4.7 million people living with diabetes and those with Type 2 make up the majority. It’s often known as a ‘lifestyle’ disease and it cannot be cured.
Qualified nutritional therapist Caroline Peyton, who runs clinics in Swindon, The Cotswolds and online, said: “Through changes to lifestyle it is possible to put T2D into remission, keep blood glucose levels a healthy level and avoid the need for medication.
“Make no mistake, this is a serious condition where the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin (hormone) to enable glucose to be carried into cells where it is used to create energy. This leaves blood glucose levels dangerously high and if left untreated can seriously damage parts of your body.”
Increasingly people are now being told they have ‘prediabetes’ – when higher levels of glucose are detected in the bloodstream which are not high enough yet for a diabetes diagnosis.
Caroline, who is also a qualified naturopath, said: “One myth is that prediabetes is directly related to weight – that’s not the case. Thinner people can still have the condition however it’s more common for overweight people to be affected so it’s a risk factor.”
There are ten lifestyle steps you can take to help avoid developing diabetes and if you have diabetes, to help you manage it (in conjunction with advice and support from your GP).
1. Avoid eating starchy carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes) without an accompanying portion of protein foods and a little fat. Protein foods are meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu, lentils, pulses. Fats are nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados, olive oil. The protein and fat slows the speed at which the sugar is passed into the bloodstream.
2. Reduce the size of your starchy carbohydrate portions to only 20% of your plate and ask: do I need it at all? It is not a necessity with every meal.
3. Try to limit refined white grains and choose wholegrains instead. This includes white bread, white rice, white pasta, crackers, pies, pizza. There is no nutritional goodness in refined grains yet there is a massive hit of sugar.
Obviously biscuits, cakes, puddings and confectionary should be a very occasional treat.
4. Increase portions of non-starchy vegetables. This are mostly above ground ones (not potatoes, parsnips, swede though do include carrots). These are fibre rich slowing the speed at which sugars are released from
carbohydrates. Starchy ones contain a lot of sugar. Aim for plenty of colours and types. Your plate should be almost half vegetables!
5. Avoid snacking including fruit. Snacking is one of the biggest contributors to constantly surging blood sugar levels. Aim to eat three balanced meals a day containing protein, good fats and lots of vegetables to
keep you full between meals.
6. Eat just two pieces of fruit a day. When aiming for “five a day” most of this should be from vegetables. Fruit is very sugary and starchy. Bananas, grapes and tropical fruits like mango are very sweet. Choose berries and non-
sweet small apples or pears.
7. Always have a portion of protein and fat with your fruit. Don’t reach for a banana thinking it is a healthy option (too much starch). Choose a small apple together with a few non-salted nuts for example.
8. Reduce consumption of simulants like tea and coffee to three a day. These stimulate the release of adrenaline which causes glucose to be released into the blood stream. It is a stress response we don’t need and adds
to rising blood sugar levels.
9. Stay well hydrated with water, very diluted cordials and herbal and fruit teas. You should consume two litres a day. Research has shown a link between poor glucose tolerance and dehydration. And ask yourself are you
hungry or actually thirsty?
10. Keep moving! Even if you partake in more intensive exercise, one hour of exercise cannot undo ten hours of sitting. It’s essential to keep moving throughout the day. It helps glucose utilisation and much more. Stand up and walk around, do some stretching, climb the stairs. Do gardening, walking, yoga in small bursts throughout the day rather than in one stint once a day.
Diabetes Week is organised and promoted by Diabetes UK. This year’s theme is #diabetesstories to encourage people to share their experience of living with diabetes. To find out more visit https://www.diabetes.org.uk To find out more about Caroline visit https://www.peytonprinciples.com