It is estimated that more than one in 17 people in the UK has diabetes. Around 90% of people have type-2 diabetes, while 10% have type-1.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
Common symptoms of type-2 diabetes include frequent urination, a sudden increase in appetite, moods swings and problems sleeping.
One of the easiest ways to reduce blood sugar spikes is by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can even help prevent the condition altogether, according to diabetes.org.uk.
And certain foods such as tomatoes, salmon and Greek yoghurt can help lower blood sugar levels.
However, new research from LloydsPharmacy reveals a quarter of sufferers have become complacent in managing their condition.
More than 90% of those living with type-2 diabetes find making healthy choices, managing the condition and maintaining motivation “challenging”.
Maintaining a healthy diet remains the biggest hurdle, as over a third admit they find it tough to adjust their eating habits in order to lose weight (36%) and balance their blood sugar levels (36%)i.
Here LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist, Anshu Bhimbat shares her top tips on managing type-2 diabetes:
1. Cut Down On The Carbs
“A low carbohydrate diet is highly recommended for people living with type 2 diabetes as it will lower the amount of insulin that the body needs to produce with research showing that it can even put type 2 diabetes into remission.
“Cutting down on carbohydrates alongside other healthy lifestyle and dietary changes, can reduce blood sugar levels into a non-diabetic range.”
2. Have Regular Health Checks
“People with diabetes can be at greater risk of developing cardiovascular diseases therefore it’s important to get an annual check of your blood pressure.
“Poor cholesterol control can also lead to cardiovascular disease.
“However, a regular check will allow you to understand your levels and make appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes, to reduce any other future health complications.
“LloydsPharmacy offer a cholesterol and heart check service which can easily be booked online for your local store.”
3. Know Your GIs
“It is hard to cut out carbs completely, as they should be part of a balanced diet, but knowing about the Glycaemic Index (GI) can help.
“GI measures the effect foods containing carbs have on blood glucose levels and where possible you should avoid foods with a high GI as it means its carbs are absorbed quickly, which can raise blood glucose.
“High GI foods include white bread, potatoes and some breakfast cereals, low GI foods include sweet potatoes and yam, beans, lentils, oatmeal and granary bread, therefore try and substitute high GI foods to low GI.”
4. Regularly Monitor Your Blood Glucose
“Regularly monitoring your blood glucose levels is important as keeping your levels under control can decrease the risk of any complications in the future.
“You should take readings before meals and 2 hours after a meal. Aim for 4 to 7mmol before and less than 8.5mmol after meals.”
5. Increase Physical Activity
“Physical exercise can help maintain a healthy weight and improve the condition of your heart and lower your blood pressure.
“Exercise also helps control blood glucose levels as when exercising, your muscles are able to use glucose, even without insulin.
“Regular exercise may be difficult to fit into your daily routine; however, you could make a start with 10 minutes of exercise a day, and gradually increase this.”
6. Develop a foot care routine
“As a diabetic, sensation and circulation problems can occur in areas such as the feet.
“Looking after your feet should be part of your daily routine, just as managing your blood glucose and diet is. Your daily routine should include checking for changes, washing and drying your feet thoroughly (including between the toes!) and regularly applying moisturiser suitable for the whole foot.”
7. Manage A Balanced Diet
“It’s important to remember that not everyone with Type 2 diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes is overweight.
“However, following a balanced diet will help those who have a high BMI lose weight which can help reverse Type 2 diabetes.
“A balanced diet should include plenty of vegetables and fibre foods whilst avoiding high saturated fats. Having diabetes shouldn’t mean that you have to follow a sugar-free diet. Small, irregular treats in moderation won’t affect your health or diabetes management in the long term.”
8. Annual Eye Checks
“Annual eye checks are vital due to the risk of diabetic retinopathy, a complication that occurs due to high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye.
“At the early stages symptoms can go unnoticed but can be picked up in photographs taken in the NHS diabetic eye screening programme.”
LloydsPharmacy offer a range of services to support people living with type 2 diabetes, including cholesterol and heart checks, blood pressure monitoring and medication management.
For more information go to the LloydsPharmacy website.