Staying well with DIABETES
WOMAN'S WEEKLY|January 11, 2022
How to avoid it, how best to manage it and can you reverse it? Here's the very latest expert advice about the condition
TANYA PEAREY

Have you recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Or have you been living with it for years? You're not alone. In the past 25 years, the number of people diagnosed with the condition has more than doubled in the UK, from 1.4 million to 3.5 million, and this is expected to rise to 5 million by 2025. And these figures don't include those living with prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes, which is now affecting more than one-in-three British adults.

What is it?

Our body's blood-sugar levels are controlled by a complex hormonal mix, including insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. 'When food is digested, entering the bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells, for use as energy, but in diabetes, your body can't do this correctly,' says Woman's Weekly GP Dr Gill Jenkins. 'Prediabetes is where sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be diabetes, though there's increased risk of developing diabetes.'

Is it lifestyle related?

Usually. The majority of people with diabetes are overweight or obese, and losing weight can make a difference. But some are not and there's a recognised genetic risk too. 'Around 10% of people with it are in the normal BMI range,' says diabetes expert Professor Roy Taylor. Research by him and his team at Newcastle University suggests type 2 diabetes is caused not by obesity specifically, but by the storage of too much fat for your body, particularly in your liver and pancreas, affecting their ability to help regulate the levels of sugar in your blood. When your body takes on more calories than it burns, it stores them as fat. First, safely, under the skin. Then, less safely, in your liver and pancreas. 'All it takes is half a gram of extra fat inside the pancreas,' says Professor Taylor. 'There's a bit of the luck of the draw mixed in because, if a person's insulin-producing cells are not susceptible to fat excess, then they're unlikely to get type 2 diabetes. If they are, then they will.'

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