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Diabetes – what you need to know

Understand the different types of diabetes and how you can reduce your risk.

Diabetes is a chronic serious condition which affects how your body turns food into energy and causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high, which is what all types have in common.

What are the main types?

  • Type 1
  • Type 2

In the UK around 90% of adults with Diabetes, have type 2, making it far more common than type 1.  Type 1 affects 8% of people with diabetes and about 2% of people have a rare form of diabetes. In the UK, there are 3.9 million people diagnosed with Diabetes. Diabetes UK estimates that almost 1 million people with type 2 diabetes are unaware they have it as they haven’t been diagnosed.

Type 2

Type 2 Diabetes develops when the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or your insulin doesn’t work properly. Insulin is the hormone produced by your pancreas which helps regulate blood sugar levels, when this isn’t working properly it causes a person’s blood sugar to become too high.

What are the risk factors for developing type 2?:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Inactivity
  • Age – over 40s are more at risk
  • Ethnicity – people of South Asian origin are up to 6x more likely to develop type 2

Risk factors for developing type 2 Diabetes are mainly lifestyle factors. Although people over 40 are more at risk, more and more young people are being diagnosed with type 2. The exact reason for people of South Asian origin being at higher risk is still not entirely known. Experts believe it has something to do with different ways of storing fat in the body as well as diet and lifestyle.

Type 1

So how does type 1 differ? Type 1 Diabetes is different as it is not caused by lifestyle factors or being overweight, the exact cause is still unknown. For somebody with type 1, their body will still break down food and drink into glucose however like type 2, their body can’t make insulin causing their blood glucose levels to be too high as you need insulin to allow the glucose to enter your body’s cells. This happens because your immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that makes insulin. Although type 1 is common to appear during childhood or adolescence, it can also develop in adults.

How is diabetes managed?

Diabetes is managed by taking insulin for people with type 1 and by checking blood sugar levels regularly or by eating well and exercising for people with type 2. But quite often people with type 2 also need to take insulin or tablets also. The management of the condition is very important as serious complications can occur if left unmanaged.

How can I reduce my risk of type 2?

There are lots of ways you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes through lifestyle alone:

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet
  • Moving more, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day
  • Losing any excess weight

If you have pre-diabetes it means you are at risk of developing type 2 but you’re able to delay or stop your body from developing it by making some positive lifestyle changes.

Is it possible to put type 2 diabetes into remission?

It is! Type 2 Diabetes will be in remission when your blood sugar levels fall below the Diabetes range meaning you no longer need to take medication. This is possible through losing a substantial amount of weight and becoming a healthy weight for your height as well as being physically active regularly and eating a balanced diet.

If you’re concerned about whether you’re at risk of Diabetes or have been experiencing symptoms such as extreme thirst, frequent urination especially at night, fatigue, blurred vision, or a dry mouth and itchy skin, speak to your doctor.

We aren’t Diabetes specialists. However, we can offer support your to lose weight and stop smoking.


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