Diabetes: The truth about this debilitating condition

Diabetes Type 2

Diabetes over recent times has received masses amounts of press and publicity, especially from health boards, the NHS and the World Health Organisation. The purpose of this short blog is to highlight the concerns associated with Diabetes, the possible pathway to other co-morbidities but also to highlight the benefits of sound nutrition and a healthy exercise / physical activity regime in it’s management.

There are different forms of Diabetes which occur for various reasons, we have identified the three most common types of Diabetes below:

Type I: this where the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin to help with the control of blood sugar.

Type II: this is where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells are resistance to insulin and don’t react to it the way they should.

Gestational Diabetes: this occurs in women during pregnancy. However, it doesn’t effect every pregnant woman but around 1 in 20 or 3-5% of all pregnancies in the UK. This form of Diabetes is caused due to a shift in hormones. The placenta produces hormones which could effect the body’s sensitivity to insulin and result in the mother becoming insulin resistant. This is not ideal as the main function of insulin is transport and during pregnancy the foetus needs a supply of nutrients to grow and develop. In the vast majority of cases, gestational diabetes disappears post pregnancy.

This short blog is going to focus on Diabetes Type II. Diabetes Type II (along with Type I and many other conditions) is a condition which we cover in depth on our Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral course. It is one of the most common conditions which our students go on to work with once they complete the qualification. It is estimated by the NHS that there are over 3.9 million people living with Diabetes Type II in the UK… Wow, that is huge, and even more concerning, the NHS and the Diabetes association predict these figures to continue increasing unless our lifestyle and nutritional habits in the UK change for the better. According to the Diabetes Report in 2012 the total cost of Type II Diabetes alone on the nation was £8.8 billion. It is predicted that by 2035 the total cost of Diabetes will reach a staggering £16.9 billion. That is an obscene amount of money!! The UK has one of the fastest rates of growth for individuals with Types II Diabetes in the World.

The primary concern with Diabetes Type II is not only the condition itself and the safe management of blood sugar, but also the complications associated with Diabetes Type II. During our Exercise Referral qualification, we discuss the complications of Diabetes in depth. Diabetes Type II can result in other conditions such as:


  • Myocardial Infraction, Ischaemic Heart Disease, Heart Failure
  • Kidney Failure and other Renal conditions
  • Neuropathy
  • Stroke
  • Foot Ulcers
  • Dyslipidaemia, Erectile Dysfunction, Hypoglycaemia, Hyperglycaemia
  • Microvascular and Macrovascular Complications (such as the loss of site and limb amputation)


Considering all the possible complications listed above and also the cost implication to the NHS, it is staggering that according to the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation that many of the newly diagnosed Type II Diabetic cases could have been prevented.


As an educator and health professional, I find it difficult to accept these statistics knowing that better choices, education and a little willpower can prevent the majority of newly diagnosed Type II Diabetic cases. I am aware that many who suffer with this condition do so due to bad luck (trauma e.g. car accident) or as a result of another influencing factor (such as a stroke), but it is clear from the NHS, WHO, DWRF and other credible sources that the major contributing factor to these rapid increases in newly diagnosed patients is, lifestyle.


It is clear that due to modern technology, cars, transport links and convenient gadgets to name just a few, every day life has become easier! As a nation we now expend far less energy than what we used to. This is a major contributing factor as reduced energy expenditure but an increased energy consumption (fast food restaurants and convenient foods) results in the number of overweight and obese individuals increasing. In many cases, poor weight management and obesity result in Type II Diabetes due to them being insulin resistant.


Obesity and poor weight management is not the only contributing factor to developing Diabetes Type II. High levels of inactivity are also associated with the development of the condition. Physical activity such as cycling, gardening or even playing sport or weight training can improve insulin sensitivity dramatically. Not only that, it can also help improve your overall health and wellbeing and help protect you against conditions such as heart attacks, heart disease, poor respiratory function and much more.


Having said that, although physical activity can help you improve your insulin sensitivity, the most efficient way of doing this is structuring your nutritional habits better. Unfortunately, in the UK we overindulge in fast food, sweets, hydrogenated fats, refined sugars and also alcohol. All of these in excessive amounts can lead to poor insulin sensitivity and ultimately becoming insulin resistant which does lead to Type II Diabetes over time. Managing your insulin sensitivity via what you eat and drink can be easier than what you think. Below are some really useful tips on how to manage insulin and reduce your chances of becoming insulin resistant:

  • Reduce sugary foods such as sweets and confectionary. Use these foods sparingly and if need be as a treat – even though I say to my clients, ‘we are not dogs, so why do we need treats?’
  • Remove all sugary drinks such as Coke, Fanta and other rubbish. There are over 7 teaspoons of sugar in one can of Coke, that is more than what my clients have in a day.
  • Reduce or remove sugar from tea and coffee.
  • Stick to low glycaemic foods such as sweet potato and brown rice.
  • Reduce alcohol in take to just once a week and make sure it’s a controlled amount.
  • Remove hydrogenated fats and processed foods such as packaged meats, cakes, margarine and ‘fake food’ such as cheese tasting slices – which are 5% cheese at best.
  • Increase water intake to a minimum of 2.5 litres a day.
  • Include oily fish in your diet like Salmon. Salmon contains Omega 3 which has been proven to help improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Accumulate the majority of your carbohydrates from fresh vegetables and dark berries as these are less insulinogenic than other carbohydrate sources such as white bread etc.
  • Stay away from fast food outlets such as McDonalds, KFC and other similar establishments. Their ready meals and meal deals may sound attractive because they are cheap and quick, but the reality is they are more expensive than what you think as their true cost is your health! The majority of foods bought at these establishments are rich in salt, hydrogenated fats and refined foods which not only contribute to poor insulin sensitivity but a high salt diet can result in hypertension over time.


During the Exercise Referral Course we discuss nutritional planning for all eleven conditions we cover in far greater detail than this blog, mainly due to the time available. Having said that, for more information on insulin sensitivity check out one of our previous blogs here


I hope you found this FLM Training blog interesting, if this is an area you are interested in, or if you would like to develop a career in helping individuals who suffer with Diabetes Type II or other conditions then please check out our Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral Course.

Here’s to a healthy and safe festive period,

FLM Training Ltd

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