Understanding diabetes; pre-diabetes and insulin resistance

Diabetes is a condition where your blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high. There are two main types, type 1 and type 2.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose to use as energy. When that glucose enters your bloodstream, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin to help take the glucose out of the blood and into the cells to be used for energy.
With type 1 diabetes your body can’t make any insulin, and with type 2 diabetes, your body can’t properly use the insulin that you do make. So, both types of diabetes result in a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream. Type 2 diabetes typically has a slow onset, and you can take action to avoid it.

Symptoms of Diabetes

When sugar builds up in the blood, your body tries to flush out the excess sugar in the urine.  This causes numerous symptoms, such as;

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Being more tired than usual
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Blurred vision
  • Recurrent thrush

Pre-diabetes and insulin resistance

With pre-diabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes, due to the onset of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance interferes with glucose moving out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it could be stored or used as fuel.

An early indicator of insulin resistance is a high waist to height ratio.  To calculate your potential risk factor, take your waist measurement in inches, then divide it by your height in inches.  Anything above 0.5 could be a cause for concern.

For example – if I had a waist measurement of 32 inches, and I was a 5.4” woman (64 inches), 32 divided by 64 gives me a ratio of 0.5.

The good news is that this pre-diabetic state can be reversed by simple dietary and lifestyle changes.  Studies show that losing between 5 and 10% of your bodyweight can reduce your risk of developing full blown type 2 diabetes by 58%

Preventative measures

The number one preventative measure for reducing your risk of diabetes is to lose weight. This is because being overweight reduces your body’s sensitivity to insulin. However, this is easier said than done! It can be a slow and frustrating start as ironically insulin resistance makes it harder to lose weight!  There are several dietary protocols that can help.  In the first instance, try to:

  • Eat more vegetables, wholegrain foods, pulses, lean protein, healthy fats (olive oil, avocado), seeds and nuts
  • Eat less processed meats
  • Cut out refined carbohydrates and sugar (replace with whole fruits like apples, and berries, and wholegrain carbs)
  • Exercise for at least 150 minutes a week

Message me using the link on the ‘what next’ page for an informal chat about help and support on your health journey.

Roz Witney

Author Roz Witney

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