As the nights draw in, daylight hours decrease and temperatures drop, it is understandable we reach for foods that help to keep us warm and comforted. Our food choices however, do not need to be laden with calories and sugar to give us what we need. In fact, for many of us, it’s essential they are not. We now know, through extensive research that the health of our gut microbiome is essential to the health of our body/mind. We now know that many diseases originate from a malfunctioning digestive system – for instance – Type 2 Diabetes. There is a revolution happening in our guts and it’s not that it has altered dramatically but our understanding of it certainly has.
The number of people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the UK and worldwide is growing year on year. It is one of the most common long term health conditions and is estimated to cost the NHS around £12 billion a year. In the UK, more than 4.7 million people have Type 2 Diabetes and a further 13.6 million are believed to be at higher risk.
Type 2 Diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, Type 2 Diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. This increase has been connected to the climbing levels of obesity.
Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results in high blood glucose levels, hyperglycaemia, due to:
- Cells in muscle, fat and the liver becoming resistant to insulin, which means the cells don’t take in enough sugar.
- The pancreas can’t make enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
Insulin is a hormone that comes from the pancreas — a gland located behind and below the stomach. Insulin controls how the body uses sugar in the following ways:
- Sugar in the bloodstream triggers the pancreas to release insulin.
- Insulin circulates in the bloodstream, enabling sugar to enter the cells.
- The amount of sugar in the bloodstream drops.
- In response to this drop, the pancreas releases less insulin.
Glucose, (a sugar) is a main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. The use and regulation of glucose includes the following:
- Glucose comes from two major sources: food and the liver.
- Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it enters cells with the help of insulin.
- The liver stores and makes glucose.
- When glucose levels are low, the liver breaks down stored glycogen into glucose to keep the body’s glucose level within a healthy range.
In Type 2 Diabetes, this process doesn’t work well. Instead of moving into the cells, sugar builds up in the blood. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases more insulin. Eventually the cells in the pancreas that make insulin become damaged and can’t make enough insulin to meet the body’s needs.
Type 2 Diabetes is a serious medical condition, which over time, may damage other organs of the body. It can often require the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, the development of Type 2 Diabetes and its side effects can be reduced or prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes often develop slowly. In fact, you can be living with Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it. When symptoms are present, they may include:
- Frequent urination.
- Increased hunger.
- Unintended weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision.
- Slow-healing sores.
- Frequent infections.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
- Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck.
Health factors that may increase the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a waist size of 31.5 inches or more (women) or more than 37 inches (men)
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Long term use of anti-biotics
- Physical inactivity
- Genetic disposition and/or having a first degree relative with Type 2 Diabetes
- Having high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels
Type 2 Diabetes can also develop in people who are not overweight or obese. This is more common in older adults and is called Skinny Diabetes 2.
The good news is, that in recent years, it has become apparent that many people with Type 2 Diabetes are able to reverse the condition through methods including low-carb diets, low-calorie diets and exercise.
According to a study on the microbiome detailed in Dr James Kinross’s book Dark Matter, new research is starting to provide some insight between the gut and Type 2 Diabetes;
A recent analysis of more than 2,166 Dutch people, (which accounted for many of the environmental confounders of the microbiome), confirmed that those with Type 2 diabetes have less microbiome diversity and less butyrate (a major short-chain fatty acid produced during gut flora-mediated fermentation of dietary fibres) production in the gut, compared to age and sex-matched non-diabetic people.
He goes on to say,
The implications of low-level inflammatory process in the gut in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are significant for all aspects of our health. … they are very likely to disrupt the gut-brain axis, exacerbating the addictive nature of food.
This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid dietary sugar. For many people with Type 2 Diabetes, this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar, it is likely you will never need long term medication.
What can I do to prevent or reduce the effects of Type 2 Diabetes?
- Eat healthy foods. Avoid processed foods and choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fibre. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Get active. Aim for 150 or more minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk, bicycling, running or swimming.
- Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing a modest amount of weight and keeping it off may delay the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, losing 7% to 10% of your body weight may reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Avoid long stretches of inactivity. Sitting still for long periods of time can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to get up every 30 minutes and move around for at least a few minutes.
FOODS TO AVOID
- Full fat dairy products including cow’s milk, cheese, cream, ice cream etc
- Refined sugar
- Packaged snacks, including biscuits, sweets, cakes, crisps, and any processed baked goods.
- White carbohydrates, including white bread, pasta, sugar.
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Dried fruits, which can be high in sugar.
- French Fries
- Excessive alcohol
FOODS TO HAVE
- Sweet potatoes
- Nuts/seeds (avoid non-organic peanuts)
- Yogurt. Yogurt has many benefits, but best to choose, goat/sheep/coconut, preferably with added Kefir.
- Salads including, cucumber, celery, tomato, spinach, lettuce, rocket, grated carrot, beetroot, fennel, celeriac, avocado, beansprouts, herbs.
- Quinoa. Quinoa is a nutrient-rich seed that is often referred to as an ancient grain.
- Vegetables of all shapes and sizes including, broccoli, kale, beans, cauliflower, celeriac, fennel, peas, carrots, mushrooms, spinach.
Although Colon Hydrotherapy is not recommended for people with Type 1 Diabetes, where the body is unable to produce insulin, it can be a very beneficial support for anyone with Type 2 Diabetes. It can help detox the intestinal tract from the accumulative inflammatory effect of eating unhealthy foods, especially excess processed foods. Then, following a healthy diet which includes the addition of pre-biotics and probiotics, plus infusions of high potency good bacteria directly into the colon (following a colon hydrotherapy treatment) the positive health-giving benefits of a diverse microbiome can be rebuilt. This, in turn, can help support the liver to manage its production and regulation of glucose.