Diabetes Awareness Week at Malvern Active

Diabetes Awareness Week (11 - 17 June): Our weight management practitioner, Caroline Chew (Level 4 Obesity & Diabetes) explains what the condition is and how living with Diabetes doesn’t prevent you participating in exercise.

At Malvern Active we are here to help keep everyone ‘fit’ and we know that exercise can play an important role in the management of diabetes.

As the media coverage on Diabetes continues to grow, not a day goes by without one of the tabloids featuring an article on the subject with headlines such as:

  • “More children develop diabetes as obesity takes its toll” - The Times June 2016
  • “Sweeteners linked to increased risk of diabetes” - The Times May 2016
  • “The diet to half diabetes” - The Mail May 2016
  • “Half a billion people suffer in ’silent’ explosion of diabetes” – Diabetes UK - 2016
  • “Diabetes bill doubles in a decade as obesity soars” – NHS Digital - 2016                                                                                                                                                                         

Perhaps most worryingly for us all in Worcestershire, the Worcester News leads on a report by Diabetes UK that: ”New figures have shown that more than 55,000 people in Worcestershire are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.” (April 2017)

So, what is Diabetes and why is it causing so much worry for health care professionals, Governments and indeed us, the general public?

Diabetes mellitis is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood becomes too high because the body cannot use it properly.

The body can’t use glucose properly, either because of a lack of the hormone insulin or because the insulin available doesn’t work effectively. Excess sugar found in the blood may also appear in urine.

The role of insulin

Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel by the body.

The pancreas is a very quiet little organ that sits behind the stomach and produces digestive enzymes and a couple of hormones called insulin and glucagon. Most people never think about their pancreas. It just does its thing, pumping insulin into the blood when glucose levels are too high and releasing glucagon into the blood when the glucose levels are too low.

About 3.5 million people in the UK have diabetes. There are also an estimated one million people in the UK who have diabetes but aren’t yet aware of their condition.

The two main types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. In Type 1 diabetics, the beta cells of the pancreatic islets are destroyed, possibly by the person’s own immune system, genetic or other environmental factors. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of diagnosed diabetes in the UK. It develops most often in children and young adults but can appear at any age. With Type 1 diabetes you are insulin dependent and need insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance.) About 90 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2. This form of diabetes is most often associated with older age, obesity, a family history of diabetes, previous history of gestational diabetes, physical inactivity and certain ethnicities.

About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents. Most of the time this form of diabetes can be controlled through diet and good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Treatment & managing Diabetes

Type1: Blood sugar levels must be kept as close to normal as possible through insulin injections, regular exercise and control of diet.

Type 2 diabetes can usually be managed by reducing body weight through healthy eating and exercise. Depending on the severity of your diabetes, medication may be used to aid in controlling blood glucose.

The main aim of treatment of both diabetes is to achieve blood glucose and blood pressure levels as near to normal as possible. This together with a healthy lifestyle, will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.

The aim of an exercise programme is to maximise the benefits of physical activity and to minimise the complications associated with diabetes.  The main role of exercise in type 1 diabetes is to modify the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and improve overall health. With type 2 diabetes exercise can benefit insulin sensitivity, hypertension and blood lipid (fatty acids) control.

Overall, with both types of diabetes, exercise will improve self-efficacy, psychological well-being and stress management. This in turn can lead to a much improved quality of life.

Here at Malvern Active we can offer tailored exercise programmes to clients with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes alongside consultation with the client’s GP. For more information or to book an appointment with Caroline, email enquiries@malvernactive.co.uk or call 01684 581681.