brown powers
Diet, Education on Diabetes

Nutrient Feature: Berberine

Berberine is a bright yellow bioactive compound (known as a polyphenol) present in some herbs and spices.

Emerging research has shown berberine may have the potential to have glucose lowering effects. This research is mainly based on type 2 diabetes, I recommend reading this article to find out more.

steeping goldenseal


Berberine could potentially stimulate glycolysis. This means more glucose is put into storage rather than remaining in the blood (causing hyperglycaemia).

Berberine is also thought to increase insulin sensitivity in people with newly diagnosed pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. This could be promising in helping blood sugar control and reducing complications.

I also want to highlight that there is no magic pill or nutrient which will ‘cure’ any form of diabetes. It is important to remember the best health outcomes are achieved when we use lifestyle modifications alongside any potential medication options. Health is multi-factorial!

Berberine in the diet

nutrient feature: berberine supplement

The easiest way to consume berberine in the diet is to steep 2 tsp of dried goldenseal in a mug of hot water. Have this twice a day.

Goldenseal can be tricky to get hold of so most people opt for a berberine supplement. I’m not the biggest supplement advocate, so I would talk to your healthcare provider before buying any form of supplement.

*Be aware that taking berberine supplements could significantly interact with any form of glucose lowering medication. Please do not take anything without speaking to a healthcare professional first, as it increases the risk of dangerous hypoglycaemia.

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Nutrient Feature: Chromium and 5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c!

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Education on Diabetes

5 Ways To Support Illness Recovery

Unfortunately it is the time of year where immunity drops and our risk of getting the common cold or flu goes up. Here are 5 natural ways to support illness recovery

1. Honey!

honey in glass jars

Local organic honey has proven to be just as effective as over-the-counter flu remedies.

This is because honey contains antioxidants and antimicrobial properties which helps the immune system to fight and clear infections. Honey can also be soothing for sore throats.

Have a teaspoon of honey with a slice of fresh lemon and ginger in boiling water to get the benefits! Obviously honey is sugary, so make sure you account for this in your insulin dose.

2. Clearing sinuses

Nothing is more annoying than having a blocked nose and feeling like you can’t breathe properly.

Steam is really important in clearing sinuses. I recommend drinking plenty of warm drinks and deep breathing while in the shower to inhale more steam.

You can also fill a large bowl with boiling water, put a towel over your head and lean over the bowl. This can feel quite intense but it definitely works for me!

If none of this works, you can buy salt water sprays which will certainly do the job!

3. Rest

Getting adequate rest is vital for recovering from an illness. When we are ill our immune system needs to use more energy to fight off the bug.

Therefore you will need to sleep and chill out more. If you have the option to work from home this will help recovery, and it will prevent the bug from spreading to other people.

Snuggle up, keep warm and try to take regular naps if you can!

sleep for natural ways to recover from illness

4. Herbs

I highly recommend drinking herbal teas when ill. This will help to boost hydration, and some herbs have useful properties for illness recovery.

Think of:

Ginger – in the form of tea and/or adding fresh ginger to cooking.
Berberine – in the form of tea or syrup.
Echinacea – in the form of tea.
Oregano – Add fresh or dried oregano to cooking (1-2 tsp).
Turmeric – Add fresh or dried turmeric to cooking (1-2 tsp).

All of these herbs have anti-inflammatory properties, supporting the immune system.

5. Movement

While rest is vital, taking part in gentle movement is also important. If we are sedentary for hours or days it can increase the risk of getting blood clots.

Try and make yourself tea/food regularly, this will make you walk around and promote blood flow.

photography of blue ceramic coffee cup

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out 5 Nutrients To Boost Immunity and 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

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Education on Diabetes

The FreeStyle Libre 2 Update!

As of the 17th August Abbott released a new update to the FreeStyle Libre 2 app which now means the system acts like a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).

What the update means

new update arrows

The new CGM system means that you no longer have to scan the sensor with your phone, you simply open the app and it automatically displays your glucose.

Not only this, when the high or low glucose alarm goes off, the notification banner displays the sugar level and the arrow trend.

These updates are fantastic because it makes glucose monitoring even easier and it helps to prevent hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia even sooner. This improved technology continues to increase quality of life, and the burden of living with diabetes.

The update has removed the 24 hour time in range percentage from the home page (I’m not sure why).

*Be aware that it is only available on the mobile app, if you are using the separate FreeStyle reader it is not available.

How to get it

For Android users you need to install the version (2.10.0)

For iOS users you need to install 2.10.1.

new update - FreeStyle Libre 2

*Abbott have said the update may disconnect your alarm system and LibreView. After installing the update make sure you scan your arm and check the alarms are connected. Also log out of your LibreView and log back in.

When I did the update it didn’t change my app until I changed my sensor. So if yours doesn’t update straight away this might be why. If you have any problems call Abbott straight away.

thank you lettering on white surface

Thank you for reading The FreeStyle Libre 2 Update, I hope you found this useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabetes technology 101! and Dangers of Frequent Hypoglycaemia

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Education on Diabetes

Rage Bolusing 101

Rage bolusing is when lots of insulin is administered to get a high blood sugar down quickly. 

From my experience, all people living with diabetes rage bolus from time to time when blood sugars are running high and we get annoyed that they are not coming down.

rage bolusing

It is completely normal to feel agitated when you have stubborn blood sugars, but rage bolusing can actually do more harm than good. It is common to think that getting hyperglycaemia down quickly is optimal, when the opposite it actually true.

Getting high sugar levels down gradually is better than overcorrecting and having a subsequent hypo. Rage bolusing can lead to ‘rollercoaster’ sugar levels which can become much harder to control.

My tips on dealing with rage bolusing

1. Gradually administer insulin – Administer your first correction dose and if you can, do some very gentle exercise. I like to go for a short walk (about 15-20 minutes), I then check my levels again. If they are not coming down one hour after the correction dose, I will administer another one. Sometimes it can take a few hours for the insulin to fully kick in.

*Be careful with insulin layering, this is when multiple doses of insulin are administered over a short period. This can result in delayed hypoglycaemia which can be very difficult to get back up.

do something relaxing - rage bolusing

2. Be patient – Try and do something you find relaxing while you wait. I like to watch my favourite TV show, read my book or play with my cats. When we get annoyed it increases the level of stress hormones in our blood, which can result in blood sugars rising even higher.

3. Keep hypo snacks at the ready – Always be ready for sudden low sugars, keep your favourite snacks nearby (and portioned!).

4. Share your annoyance – I like to talk to someone I trust when my sugar levels are being stubborn. Talking really helps to let emotions out, which may help to prevent a rage bolus.

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Restaurants and Diabetes 101 and Riding The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

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Education on Diabetes

Riding The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

The blood sugar rollercoaster, also known as ‘dysglycemia’ is when sugar levels quickly bounce between highs and lows (see graph below). The rollercoaster causes severe fatigue as well as detrimental physical and mental symptoms.

blood sugar rollercoaster

Many factors can cause the rollercoaster, such as:

  • Severe hypoglycaemia
  • ‘Rage bolusing’
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Intense exercise
  • Illness
  • Lack of sleep

My Tips On Handling The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

1.Portion your hypo snacks before When you have hypoglycaemia it can send you into a ‘hangry’ monster, trying to eat everything in sight. To prevent this I always carry/have portioned hypo snacks, for example I have small juice bottles and small boxes of raisins etc. This can help to prevent over-treating a low sugar, causing a rebound high.

2. Resist the ‘rage bolus’ If you do become a hangry monster (don’t panic we have all been there!) try not to take a big dose of insulin to overcome the high sugar. I know it’s annoying, but bringing sugar levels back down gradually is preferable because it will prevent another sudden hypo.

3. Close your eyes and rest – If your sugar levels are everywhere it can become tiring and stressful. When we get stressed it can cause blood sugar levels to rise even more, which is not ideal in this situation. So I like to close my eyes and focus on my breathing, always set a 20/30 minute alarm incase you fall asleep so you can check your levels again.

4. Reach out to your support network – If you are feeling really unwell and are struggling, ask for help! If you need someone to grab you snacks or give you a hug, ask your parents, partner, friends, whoever is your go-to!

support - blood sugar rollercoaster

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Dangers of Frequent Hypoglycaemia and How to handle a hypo mid-workout!

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Diet, Education on Diabetes

Vitamin D Deficiency & Autoimmunity

Vitamin D plays many crucial roles in maintaining our health. This includes maintaining bone density, muscle contraction, hormone balance and immunity.

The active form of vitamin D is actually a hormone called calcitriol, which is produced by the kidneys after sunlight hits our skin, or we eat vitamin D through food sources.

Calcitriol binds to vitamin D receptors aiding balanced immune response and appropriate levels of inflammation. This prevents the immune system from attacking its own tissues, known as autoimmunity. Therefore, inadequate levels of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases. This includes type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

This is demonstrated across research, if you would like to know more here is a great paper to read.

Preventing Vitamin D deficiency

  • Spend time outside – 12pm is actually the best time to go outside. At midday the light rays are at the optimum length to efficiently absorb UVB rays to make vitamin D. Get some rays for about 10 minutes before applying suncream. If you have very pale skin limit this time to 5 minutes or less, and if you have darker skin increase the time (to up to 20 minutes) to allow adequate vitamin D synthesis.
  • Eat vitamin D food sources – Mushrooms are great sources of vitamin D, try and pick mushrooms that have filaments facing vertically. This means they have been exposed to sunlight, allowing them to make vitamin D for us to absorb. Eggs and liver are also good sources.
  • Supplements – particularly during the winter months when sun exposure is low, I think it is worth taking a vitamin D3 supplement. A dose of 2000IU is a good maintenance level.
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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Autoimmune diseases 101! and Autoimmune conditions linked with type 1 diabetes

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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

Dangers of Frequent Hypoglycaemia

Everyone living with diabetes knows how draining hypoglycaemia can be, particularly when low sugars frequently occur. Until recently the long-term dangers of hypoglycaemia have not really been spoken about, or known. So I wanted to write a post about what recent research has started to find.

This post is not intended to scare you, but to share knowledge and to help prevent hypoglycaemia.

Frequent hypoglycaemic episodes have now been linked to increasing the risk of developing complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, retinopathy, kidney disease and impaired cognitive function (memory loss specifically). More research is needed to gain more understanding on why and for treatments on these complications.

The best way to avoid further health complications is to prevent hypoglycaemic episodes in the first place.

My tips on avoiding frequent hypoglycaemia

1. Invest in technology

If it is possible, the best place to start is to get a CGM or FGM so you can monitor your sugar levels more easily. I use the Freestyle Libre and this has really improved my diabetes control. Preventing hypos has become so much easier!

Technology for preventing frequent hypoglycaemia

2. Set your alarms with precaution

If you use a CGM or FGM with an alarm system, I recommend setting the low boundary slightly higher. This way the alarm will go off just before you dip into a hypo, giving you more time to treat and prevent the hypo.

My low alarm is set at 4.5 mmol/L, which gives me time to get my levels up before they drop lower.

3. Learn your trends

If you have frequent hypoglycaemia, try to record when your levels drop. For example, I tend to drop during the night if I have done a lot of running, to avoid this I decrease my insulin dose with dinner and I try to run earlier in the day if possible.

preventing frequent hypoglycaemia

4. Avoid ‘rage bolusing’

If you are having a stubborn high glucose, try to not over-correct and take lots of insulin. I know this can be annoying, but we are much better off getting high sugar levels down gradually, to avoid subsequent hypoglycaemia.

5. Always carry your favourite snacks!!

heart - frequent hypoglycaemia

Thank you for reading Dangers of Frequent Hypoglycaemia, I hope this post is useful, let me know if you would like more tips on this topic! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to checkout How to handle a hypo mid-workout! and Keeping your heart healthy with diabetes

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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

Holiday tips to maintain sugar levels

Everyone wants to let loose on holiday and enjoy delicious food without feeling restricted. Here are my top tips on making the most of your summer holiday while managing your sugar levels!

1. Watch your drinks

smoothie - holiday tips

On holiday you are more likely to indulge in cocktails, smoothies and coffee, but remember these are often packed with sugar.

I try and choose cocktails that contain less sugar, my favourite is a mojito. If your sugars are running a bit high, ask the bartender to leave the sugar out and to give some sugar sachets so you can add the right amount for you.

If you fancy something with lots of sugar in, try and time it right, for example after a walk or swim.

2. Plan activities

Plan activities that involve some exercise, even just book a walking tour so you can explore your holiday destination and get some movement in at the same time. Play games in the pool or volleyball on the beach!

Just remember to always carry a sugary snack or money for treats if your sugars suddenly drop.

exploring - holiday tips

3. Take cool packs

It isn’t always possible to put your bag in the shade so invest is some cool packs to stop your insulin from denaturing.

Denaturing is when the insulin gets too hot, meaning it is no longer active when it enters the body. This can therefore result in very high sugar levels.

Etsy have some really nice cooler cases, I take them everywhere with me so my insulin stays cool whether I am by the pool, beach or exploring a new town.

4. Make sure you have a mini fridge

Contact your hotel and make sure there is a mini fridge in your room. The last thing you want is to arrive and then realise there is no where to safely store your insulin (I have been in this position, it’s not fun!).

5. Relax

Remember you are on holiday and you are there to have fun. If you run a little high a couple of times it is not the end of the world (not too high of course).

Go back to basics and remember timing is always the key to indulging!

relax by the pool, holiday tips

Thank you for reading my Holiday tips to maintain sugar levels, I really hope it was useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control! and How to Stop CGM’s from falling off

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Education on Diabetes

Driving and Type 1 diabetes

People living with type 1 diabetes have to take extra precaution before driving. This post will cover what people living with t1d have to do in the UK.

Legal Requirements

Firstly, you have to declare to the DVLA that you have diabetes. This will not stop you from driving, they just need to know about any medical conditions.

People living with diabetes also have to renew their licences more frequently. This is so the DVLA can monitor any diabetic complications, or lack of hypo awareness.

check sugar levels - driving and type 1 diabetes

These are the legal requirements in the UK:

  • Check your blood sugars no longer than 2 hours before driving (really you should be checking just before)
  • Check your blood sugars every 2 hours on a long journey
  • Always carry sugary snacks and slow releasing carbs (snack bar, sandwich, etc)

If you have a hypo while driving

  • Pull over and stop when it is safe
  • Remove the keys from the ignition
  • Get out of the driver’s seat
  • Check blood sugars and treat the hypo
  • Do not drive for 45 minutes AFTER you feel better (this allows brain to fully recover so you can drive safely)

Car snack ideas

You also have to have access to hypo snacks in your door pocket. It needs to be a large opened bag so you can reach down easily and eat.

snacks for hypo's - driving and type 1 diabetes

Here are some ideas, I prefer to have dried fruit rather than sweets all the time.

  • Dried mango
  • Raisins, cranberries, dates
  • Fruit pastels
  • Sweets of choice

Thank you for reading Driving and Type 1 diabetes! I hope this was useful, be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control! and Restaurants and Diabetes 101

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Education on Diabetes, Parents

How to tell people you have diabetes

Telling people you are living with diabetes can be hard, especially if it’s someone you care about, or you have recently been diagnosed.

Even if it feels difficult, the people around you must know so they can support you. Here are my tips!

Choose a familiar place

tell people you are living with diabetes

Choosing somewhere you feel safe will help you to feel more relaxed during the conversation. This can be at home or your favourite cafe/restaurant.

You can also bring the topic up casually, it doesn’t have to feel serious. I often tell people when we are talking about food or exercise. For example I’ll say ‘I like to exercise because it helps me to control my sugar levels, I have type 1 diabetes’. Then the conversation goes on from there.

Keep it simple

Most people won’t fully understand what living with diabetes means, so you need to use easy language for them to understand.

You can use stuff like:
– ‘My sugar levels can go high and low’
– ‘When they go high I need insulin’
– ‘When they go low I need to eat sugar’

Tell people how to support you

Tell them what you might need. For example, sometimes your sugar levels will influence your food choices or you might need them to go for a walk with you.

I also tell people that I will let them know if i need anything, rather than having people constantly asking if I’m ok. This puts the control in your hands, and stops you feeling overwhelmed.

Be prepared to answer questions

question about diabetes

Everyone will have questions, this is vital to their understanding, and in my opinion the best way to raise awareness.

Questions will often be about your diagnosis, what you eat or about taking insulin etc. From my experience most questions are positive, however sometimes people might ask you a questions that comes off as negative. If this happens, reinforce that people living with diabetes can achieve anything, just with a little more preparation.

For more information, check out my post Dealing with annoying questions about diabetes.

*Remember to only have conversations when you are ready, but getting things off your chest is important too. If you are worried someone is going to judge you or treat you differently after, maybe you need to question their importance in your life rather than hiding your diabetes. Please email me if you need anything!

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Tips on teaching children to inject and 10 facts about Type 1 diabetes!