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Diabetes: let’s not sugar coat the risk

Honey Jane Clarke

Diabetes is one of the big health stories of our times. It’s estimated that four million people in the UK, or six per cent of the population, live with the disease. Shockingly, many of those people don’t know they have the condition. The International Diabetes Federation believes that one in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed.

Today, on World Diabetes Day (14th November), the focus is on encouraging people to get screened to find out if they already have the disease or are at higher risk of developing it. I want to add my voice to that rallying cry, because diabetes – although it can be well managed through diet and medication – can also cause serious health complications. If you have diabetes, your risk of blindness, kidney damage, heart disease and stroke rises. Late diagnosis is significant because it means diabetes has a longer time to cause damage to your body. A simple blood test at your GP’s surgery will tell you if you have the disease. So please, why not book an appointment today?

There are two type of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. My focus here is on the latter, because unlike unavoidable Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is so intertwined with our lifestyle – what we eat, how much we weigh, how much or little exercise we do, all affect our risk of developing it. It tends to be a disease of middle age, when body fat levels rise and activity decreases. The good news is that, these days, being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t condemn you to a diet of artificial-tasting and expensive ‘diabetic-friendly’ jams and sweets.

We know that eating wholegrains and fibre can help to balance sugar levels, so you don’t have too much or too little in your blood. So you can still look forward to the occasional sweet treat, like a delicious biscuit made with wholemeal flour and fibre-rich fruit, as part of a diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats to protect your heart. Alongside any medication prescribed by your GP, a diabetic diet should still be full of delicious foods and flavours to savour.

4 ways to balance blood sugar levels
  • Eat a balanced and nourishing diet that helps to regulate blood sugar levels
  • Use natural flavours to add sweetness to your food, such as coconut, star anise and cinnamon
  • Lose excess body fat healthily and steadily
  • Make exercise part of your routine.

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