TL;DR we have increasing amounts of people at the higher end of the glucose tolerance range - not realising it but almost at the point of being type two diabetic.
I chose this article today because it holds a lot of personal significance to me.
grandmother and great-uncle are all type-2 diabetic), I've been
watching my health for a while now. At first it didn't seem *that* bad - so it's
diabetes, right, what's the worst that could happen? But after watching my
grandmother get gradually sicker and sicker, eventually needing to have a
serious operation in one eye (ending in blindness in that eye), loss of the use
of her legs, loss of the blood circulation to legs and feet and constant need
for a catheter, the adult me has re-asked the question - so what does it
Diabetes is a hugely underestimated disease. A lot of
people in the UK and US have it and don't even know it (it's thought to be
something like 1 in every 70 people). Can't be that bad, right? I mean, if you
can have it and not know about it.....Wrong. Think about being ill without
knowing it for a long period of time, eventually those complications catch up to
you. Just like in my nan.
When I was a child I knew all about
diabetes. My friend was a type 1 diabetic and my grandmother had been managing
type 2 diabetes for all of my life. (Type 1 makes up around 10% of all cases and
is most common in those under 40, Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and
most common in those over 40 (in Caucasian populations)). It seemed like a game.
She's prick her finger every morning and every evening to check sugar levels.
But that was before the insulin injections started to come in. That was before
she got confined to a wheelchair.
You see, my grandmother,
like all of the women in my family was stubborn. I joke about it - I'm
tenacious, not pig-headed. Honest. But it's a trait that can get you in hot
water (as I'm sure anyone suffering the same personality trait will agree ;)).
My grandmother continued to eat whatever the hell she liked. She was a gifted
chef and she enjoyed cooking. She had the WW2 era approach to food - if it's
here, you must have it. She was always telling me to eat, you look skinny (truly
impossible given I was a 10 tonne
kid). I always remember her motto: "I
may as well enjoy it now, I'll be gone soon enough". But there you go with the
stubborn trait. Even after the sugar-fed abuse of 90 years my grandmother is
here and her body now shows the signs of wear.
It has often
made me think. Should I enjoy things whilst I can? Get the most out of life.
Right. Well, surely arriving at the finish line with a body that can still go
some is better than finishing in a wreck? When I'm 90 will I be able to walk?
The events of the past few years have constantly highlighted the nefarious
disease that diabetes is. It attacks in underhanded ways, nipping at the unwary
until you're not able to use the body you had. You keep eating wrong because you
feel ok (ish). Even when you start becoming sick from eating sugary/high-carb
foods you continue, because you're in
How do you become diabetic?
Well, lots of people think it's just eating loads of sugary stuff. That's not really
true. There are lots of things that contribute to the development of diabetes -
age (being over 40), ethnicity (it's more common in
Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origins), being overweight (if your
BMI is over 30 (yes, yes, I *know* about BMI but lets just assume the normal
curve here. If you're really muscley or abnormally densely boned you're probably
ok for this factor)), if you carry fat around your stomach (for women a 31.5cm
waist increases risk, Asian men 35cm and all other men at 37in waist).
Additionally genetics play a major role; you're far more at risk if you have a
relative with the condition (www.NHS.UK).
Personally, I'm very aware of the consequences of diabetes. I know that unless I start
treating my body right, I'll be having a hell of a time of it come 60 years. Do
you know the consequences? Do you even know the symptoms?
Know those symptoms and know the risk factors people. Be aware and look after
yourselves. We have a journey ahead of us and there is no fun in having to pull