According to the World Health Organisation, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the world. The number of people that have diabetes is estimated to increase from 425 million in 2017 to 629 million by 2045. Many people have diabetes or a condition called pre-diabetes and don’t know they have it.
An introduction to diabetes
As a nutritionist specialising in diabetes, for me diabetes is a major concern. So what exactly is diabetes and what can be done with nutrition to manage it?
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic endocrine disorder (the endocrine system controls your hormones), with abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Diabetes is characterised by high blood glucose levels (blood sugar). Diabetes is thought of a a chronic disease that gets worse over time eventually leading to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
Type 2 and type 1 diabetes
The most common is type 2 diabetes. which as a nutritionist specialising in diabetes, I see more often in my clinic and part of the local diabetes support group I support. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is not making enough of the hormone insulin, or a lack of response in the body to insulin (known as insulin resistance). In the last 30 years the cases of type 2 diabetes have increased dramatically. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin. Both types of diabetes can lead to chronically high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes and nutrition
The World Health Organisation largely talks about prevention but there is a lot of confusion with conflicting advice around how to treat people already diagnosed and how nutrition and what diet can help. The internet is a useful tool but sometimes too much information, often conflicting can be very overwhelming and it is not easy to decide what to do. For people living with diabetes or wanting to prevent diabetes, having the ability to access the right information about nutrition, and then know how to apply it, is critical to their ability to live a happy and long life which is where a nutritionist specialising in diabetes can really help.
Current medical treatment has a very poor remission rate, in one recent study it was just 0.5%. Medication also becomes less effective over time with studies showing 10-15 years after diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, more than 50% of patients go on to require insulin. This again does not lead to remission and clearly doesn't address the cause of diabetes.
Nutrition is fundamental in diabetes. More and more recent studies indicate that diabetes symptoms can be alleviated and even reversed by carbohydrate restriction (a low carbohydrate diet). Carbohydrates play a leading role in the hormone imbalance of diabetes.
Diabetes and thinking you may be eating a healthy diet
Diabetes is a very complex disorder and what I experienced is that diabetes seems to be very insidious. Many clients have reported it being a complete surprise when they were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They feel fine and they think they eat a healthy diet. This is what is so dangerous about diabetes and not so widely known. There may be one undiagnosed person for every two to three diagnosed.
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, a hormone imbalance, as a nutritionist specialising in diabetes, this is where we need to look for the cause, what disrupts these hormones?
How can a nutritionist help with diabetes
As a nutritionist specialising in diabetes I know that diabetes is preventable. Even if you are diagnosed with diabetes, it can be managed and the consequences of this illness can be delayed or avoided altogether with nutrition and lifestyle. We all have slightly different genetic predispositions which can be modified by diet. Understanding nutrition and how to eat well underpins everything. Our health, our happiness and the quality of our lives. This becomes even more crucial when we are faced with a chronic condition such as diabetes.
Should I see a nutritionist and or a dietitian?
If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you see a dietitian to help you develop a diabetes food plan. However dieticians are trained to work with
current diabetes guidelines and in my opinion, these are not effective. You just have to look at our current global obesity and diabetes epidemics. This is because most of the dietary and nutritional advice given by dieticians is aimed at populations, not the individual and based on poor or weak evidence and outdated or inaccurate research.
Diabetes nutrition research
The area of nutrition science and research is fraught with problems so it's important to question existing ideas and relook at the interpretation of past data. It's only in the last 30 years or so that we have seen a dramatic rise in diabetes, and obesity, since the introduction in fact of new dietary guidelines telling us to eat low fat and high carbohydrate diets. It may be news to you that these guidelines were largely untested and I now think we are seeing the consequences of this. I therefore base my plans on recent research, question the data and avoid those that are based on poor outdated ideas.
What are the benefits of seeing a nutritionist for my diabetes?
As a nutritionist specialising in diabetes, I understand the challenges you face with your diabetes. Working with me, a nutritionist specialising in diabetes, will equip you with not just the right food information, but the right supplement, lifestyle and environmental interventions all based on more solid and rigorous evidence. I can show you how to take control and change things whilst leading a happy life. How to not feeling deprived or bad in your food and lifestyle choices so you become free from punishing diets and calorie counting and live the life you deserve.
But what causes diabetes? And what has caused you to get diabetes? This is where undertaking a diabetes nutritional plan with me, a nutritionist specialising in diabetes, really explores what is going on and what has triggered and driven your diabetes and then putting together a diabetes plan that addresses what we can do about it.