Are you at risk of type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is sadly the seventh leading cause of death, and is the leading cause of many severe complications. These include:

  • blindness
  • lower limb amputations
  • heart disease
  • kidney failure
  • early death

You may be at a higher risk of diabetes if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have a family history of diabetes. 
  • You are from certain black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. 
  • You have been diagnosed with impaired glucose regulation (pre-diabetic).
  • You are carrying excess body weight (particularly around the waist).
  • Your activity levels are low (exercise less than three times weekly).
  • You're eating a diet that contains too-much refined carbohydrate and processed foods.
  • You have high blood pressure (greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg).
  • You are older than 40 (although it is becoming far more common in younger people).
  • You have developed diabetes during a previous pregnancy.
  • You have given birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.
  • You have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Sugar and diabetes

The problem is that many of us are consuming way too much free sugar. These sugars increase our chances of becoming overweight and thus our likelihood of developing diabetes.

It is being overweight that is the main trigger. It is only once we have developed the condition that managing our sugar consumption becomes paramount.

There are many myths surrounding sugar and diabetics. Sadly, the one message that many patients seem to recall the most is that they should not consume fruit! Sugars are found naturally in fruit, but so long as they are eaten whole/packaged with their skin and not more than one at a time as a snack or dessert, then they are generally safe for most patients.

It's smoothies and fruit juices that cause the glycaemic overload because you have several pieces of fruit that have already been broken down, contain less fibre, and collectively contain a large dose of natural sugars.

Having diabetes doesn’t mean that you cannot have any sugar in your diet. Certainly, the occasional treat is acceptable for most of us. It all depends on how well your diabetes is being controlled and what you have agreed with your healthcare worker.
Watermelon fruit

Blood glucose control

If you are overweight and want to reduce your risk of developing type two diabetes, then working with a registered nutritionist may help prevent you from becoming a statistic. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to be a lifelong condition for everyone. Current research into low-calorie weight management programmes shows that diabetes can be put into remission.

When you are already diagnosed as diabetic, you can still lower your blood sugars and reliance on medications. You can still make a big difference to your outcome and lower your HbA1c reading.

Diagnosed as pre-diabetic?

Did you know that up to 60% of people can avoid becoming diabetic if they manage the situation correctly at this stage?

There are many basic things that you can do to improve your condition, but sometimes we need individual tailored help and guidance on how best to make those changes.

Reduce your risk

  • Lose weight if you are classed as overweight. 80% of people with type two diabetes are overweight. That means that there are 20% of other diabetics that need help to find the right diet to improve cardiovascular outcomes and blood glucose control.
  • Move more and understand how your muscles can use up excess glucose when you exercise correctly. Exercise lowers blood glucose levels, so it is important to understand how to manage your exercise safely.
  • Drink more fluids to reduce your blood sugar levels. 
  • Get guidance on managing changes. One change at a time to make the changes permanent. The psychology of eating and causes of hunger will help you to be more aware.
  • Understand how to control your blood sugar/insulin levels and keep them stable. Know how the glycaemic index works and how important the glycaemic load is in maintaining a steady blood sugar level.
  • Food labels and sugar. Become aware of what food labels actually mean, and notice the sugar count.
  • Carbohydrate awareness. The types of food you eat, when, and how often is key. For example, whole-grains, healthy fats and pulses will help to ensure a slower release of blood sugars into the bloodstream.

It's important to think about how you can reduce your risk or how you can improve your blood sugars, and make some advised changes before you receive a diagnosis. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Great Dunmow CM6 & Chelmsford CM1
Written by Hayley Smith, ANutr, MASC(Eating disorders/CBT), Dip (Sports Nutri), BA Hons Psy
Great Dunmow CM6 & Chelmsford CM1

I am a Registered Assoc Nutritionist. I work as a Weight Management & Food-wellness coach at my home clinic Great Dunmow & Springfield Hospital Chelmsford.

Specialisms include:
Weight Loss & Healthy Eating
Eating disorders
Blood sugars & BP
Inflammation & Gut Health
Lowering blood sugar, cholesterol levels & cardiovascular risk
Eating disorders

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