According to the organisation Diabetes UK, more people than ever are at risk of Type Two Diabetes.
Currently, numbers stand at 4.6 million. This is estimated to rise to more than 5 million people living with diabetes by 2025 in the UK alone.
Type Two Diabetes makes up 90% of diabetes diagnoses’. Only 10% of people have Type One Diabetes.
Furthermore, 12.3 million people are at increased risk of contracting Type Two Diabetes.
What is Type Two Diabetes?
Type One Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all.
This is usually diagnosed in childhood, and a person with Type One Diabetes will need to inject insulin daily for their entire life.
Type Two Diabetes is usually diagnosed later in life.
This happens when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body’s cells do not react to insulin as they should.
A simple analogy is to view insulin as the key to the door of a cell.
The body’s cells need to take in glucose to work effectively. Insulin is the mechanism that allows the cells to take in glucose.
Insulin softens the cell walls to let the glucose pass through.
Without insulin, the glucose stays in the blood and cannot be used as fuel for energy by the body’s cells.
Type Two Diabetes is commonly associated with obesity. This is because excess body fat clogs the cells and prevents insulin from doing its job.
Effects on the Body
When people have diabetes they feel thirstier and pass urine more frequently.
This is because the kidneys are trying to expel the excess glucose that is circulating the body because it cannot be used by the cells.
Excess glucose in the blood means increased bacteria in the blood.
This is the reason that people with diabetes can have difficulties healing a wound.
Some people with diabetes lose weight.
This is because the body will start to break down the fat cells and use these for energy, as they cannot use the glucose.
Risk of Ketoacidosis
A by-product of fat being burned by the body is ketones.
This is why medics will ask nursing staff to check urine samples for ketones if blood sugars are poorly controlled and are too high.
Ketones can build up and become dangerously high. This is called Ketoacidosis and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Very Low-Calorie Diets
There is ongoing research to determine whether very low-calorie diets can potentially reverse the effects of Type Two Diabetes.
A very low-calorie diet is usually a diet of 600 calories per day, in the form of drinks and supplements.
Following a diet such as this is thought to prompt the body to expel the fat clogging the pancreas.
This helps to wake up the insulin-producing cells and kick-start insulin production again.
In the Newcastle University study, 11 people undertook this type of diet for eight weeks.
After three months, seven of the 11 participants were free from diabetes.
Research is continuing but it is exciting to think that diabetes could in some cases, be reversed.
Type Two Diabetes and Diet
Gone are the days when people with diabetes were instructed to avoid certain foods and to buy diabetic foods and drinks.
Now the current advice is to enjoy a healthy and balanced diet and not to deprive themselves of anything.
Diabetes UK actually advises people to avoid foods labelled as ‘diabetic’.
Often these foods have the same amounts of calories and fat and they can affect blood sugar levels.
The advice is to stick to the usual foods and to watch portions of occasional treats.
People should listen to their bodies and may make changes to their diet to ensure that they are regulating their blood glucose levels as well as maintaining a healthy weight.
The Cost of Diabetes
Treating diabetes accounts for 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales.
In total, around £14 billion pounds is spent every year on treating diabetes and its complications.
£11 billion pounds of the 14 is due to Type Two diabetes.
A 2012 report from the London School of Economics estimates that the cost of prescribing medication for complications of diabetes is around 3 to 4 times the cost of prescribing diabetes medication.
The biggest cost is the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
There are also socio-economic impacts. The cost of early retirement due to diabetes is a huge £8.4 billion pounds per year.
Read more Nursing Notes on Nutrition and Hydration in Care Homes.