Firstly let’s break down what we mean by diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is where the pancreas fails to produce insulin due to an autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic cells, and insulin injections are required regularly. People are mostly diagnosed with this type as a child.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is a gradual loss of sensitivity in insulin receptors within the cells and insulin resistance. This types makes up the majority of diabetes cases (85-90%), and the numbers are rising rapidly, especially in a younger age groups.
Gestational diabetes can occur in a 3-10% of pregnancies, and is normally resolved within a few days of giving birth.
What does insulin actually do?
We get raised glucose in the blood when we eat any carbohydrates, fruits, sweets etc. Insulin helps glucose enter the cells so it can be used, which reduces the glucose in the blood.
Insulin inhibits the release of glucose stores from the liver, slows down the breakdown of fats and promotes storage of fats. It’s released whenever we eat food and our blood glucose levels begin to rise. If we eat a glucose rich food (e.g. white bread) a big spike of insulin in released which can leave us feeling lethargic, hungry and actually wanting more sugary foods.
Why is high insulin bad for us?
- Insulin causes our body to retain salt, which leads to water retention, which causes raised blood pressure and can lead to cardiovascular problems
- High insulin levels increase the risk of atherosclerosis which can lead to heart attacks
- Raised insulin levels increases VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), a type of blood fat which can cause a fatty liver. This is one of the “bad” forms of cholesterol
- High insulin can increase growth hormone IGF-1 which can lead to cancer cell growth
- Skin tags are associated with insulin resistance, the mechanism is unknown
- In women, insulin resistance can contribute to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome by promoting the release of testosterone from the ovaries.
- High levels of insulin will lead to insulin resistance, and eventually type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle condition, it can be massively influenced by what we eat and how. I can give you tips on what to eat more of, what to avoid, and help with individual supplements to support your health. If you’d like me to help you review your current diet and look at how to improve your blood sugar regulation then please get in touch for a consultation.
What To Eat To Manage Blood Sugars & Support Diabetes
If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic it’s important to manage your blood sugar through your diet. Some foods have properties that promote effective use of insulin and can work to reduce insulin sensitivity. Other foods can give our blood sugar highs and lows that impact on many of the body’s systems. For a tailored approach to your health please get in touch to see how changes to your diet can improve your conditions.
- Chromium is needed to make Glucose Tolerance Factor, which helps us use insulin more effectively. Without enough GTF you’ll have high insulin, which causes your brain to crave more sugar, dump Calcium out though the kidneys, and pack away glucose as fat. Chromium rich foods are – beef, brewers yeast, broccoli, brown rice, barley, oats, green beans, black pepper, black strap molasses. If you have Type 1 Diabetes don’t take chromium supplements unless under care of a health professional as it may reduce the requirement for insulin.
- Soluble Fibre such as legumes (beans), oat bran, seeds, pears, apples will help slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spike
- Include enough healthy fats – oily fish (Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon, Herring), avocado, seeds and nuts, and monounsaturated fats like olive oil. Fats keep us fuller for longer, especially when eaten with fibre. Consider a supplement if you don’t eat much oily fish. Some studies have shown an improvement in insulin sensitivity with increased Omega 3 levels whilst other studies found a moderate supplementation of fish oil did not affect insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion, beta-cell function or glucose tolerance.
- Cinnamon – add to smoothies or porridge as cinnamon may help to increase insulin sensitivity.
- Coconut oil increases medium chain fatty acids which may aid weight loss and may increase HDL (good cholesterol).
- Drink green tea – full of antioxidants which help to combat toxins, especially when using the green powder matcha, and some studies have shown green tea can support weight loss.
- Eat protein at EVERY meal and snack. As well as helping us feel full, protein has thermogenic effect which increases our metabolism. Protein rich snacks include seeds (coated in tamari), boiled egg, hummus, chicken breast. Try adding protein powder to smoothies / juice or just mix into small glass of juice and drink –e.g. Hemp or Pea protein powder – available from health food shops.
- Zinc rich foods such as beef, pecan nuts, lamb chops, ginger,sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds. Zinc is important for normal production of insulin and a higher zinc intake may be associated with a slightly lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
- Eat lots of vegetables, especially good are leafy greens, cruciferous veg (broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, kale) as these are alkalising and help the liver detoxification pathways.