Type-2 diabetes is characterised by abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood. Sugars from the digestion system pass into the blood stream and are transported around the body. Insulin is secreted from the pancreas in response to rising sugar levels. Insulin allows the sugars to pass into the muscles and other cells where they are converted to energy. If there is insufficient release of insulin or because the body has become resistant to insulin the sugar in the blood cannot pass into the cells to be used as energy.
The symptoms of diabetes include, lethargy, weight loss, thirst and frequent passing of urine, although some people are symptomless. Diagnosis is most often by testing a blood sample for glucose levels outside normal limits, measured after overnight fasting. Alternatively if impaired glucose tolerance is suspected blood sugars are tested after a measured sugary drink.
Risk factors for diabetes include our eating habits, obesity and lack of exercise. Additionally our ethnic background, genetic make-up, age and even pregnancy can increase the risk. Currently there are about 2 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK with perhaps 400,000 undiagnosed. These numbers are expected to increase in line with unhealthy lifestyles in an ageing population. However it is possible through diet and exercise to reduce the likelihood of diabetes or its complications
Complications from the damage of high blood glucose includes cumulative damage to the small blood vessels that supply the eyes, kidneys and the nervous system resulting in problems to these organs and the extremities of our limbs. There can also be damage to large blood vessels supplying the heart and brain, resulting in coronary heart disease and stroke.
Even if we might be genetically predisposed to diabetes through our ethnic and family histories, this does not determine we will become diabetic. Often our genes are expressed through the commonality of our social and cultural practices. This includes the types of food we eat, the amount of exercise we take and our cultural body image - overweight can be associated with success and good homemaking. The healthy Mediterranean diet and lifestyle has not been universally adopted in the UK and participation in exercise and leisure may well be culturally modified in some ethnic groups.
An ageing population is traditionally associated with a more sedentary lifestyle and bulging waistlines while the increasing availability of fast foods and computer games is now showing its effects in the young. Body Mass Index, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are clinical measures of risk. Although they may be treated with drugs they will also respond to calorie reduction, a balanced diet and exercise. Government targets to reduce obesity are often implemented through local PCT's with programs to educate and encourage weight loss in local young people. For anyone already on medication or anxious about making changes it is of course sensible to seek advice before embarking on rigorous exercise regimes.
Current screening programs to find undiagnosed diabetes are an on-going NHS priority including education for those diagnosed. This is complemented by initiatives to encourage healthy lifestyles.
The message is clear:
"Diet and exercise increase general health, reduce hypertension and cholesterol and will protect against the risk of diabetes"
"If you are in a risk group take advantage of local health initiatives. Never put off seeking advice if you have any of the symptoms of diabetes."
"Without diagnosis and control there is an increased risk of complications. Remember medication and advice is available to control diabetes and support a normal healthy lifestyle."
Hypnosis and diabetes: Hypnosis for diabetes is structured around better compliance and control using relaxation techniques.
John Jeffrey, Sept 2009 Return to welcome page