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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

Many people often worry about getting health complications such as type 2 diabetes, so here are 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes!

Always remember preventing health issues before they become a problem is optimal! If you are concerned about your health, go and see your doctor and look at ways to improve your lifestyle!

1. Switch up your carb sources

fibre for type 2 diabetes prevention

I have said this across so many posts, and I’ll say it again! Opt for brown and wholegrain carbohydrate sources as they contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals than white carbs.

Fibre is very important for the digestive system and maintaining balanced sugar levels. Fibre not only feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut to stimulate optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, but it also slows digestion down, which helps to prevent sudden sugar spikes.

Bear in mind the recommended daily fibre intake is 30g, so pack wholegrain oats, grains, legumes and a variety of fruit and vegetables into your daily diet.

2. Get moving!

get moving for type 2 diabetes prevention

Type 2 diabetes is majorly linked to having a sedentary lifestyle, so get up and get moving to reduce your risk!

If you are a student, or have an office job, I highly recommend scheduling some time into your diary to make sure you take breaks and get some activity in. Whether this is going for a walk on your lunch break, getting to the gym before your shift starts, or walking the dog, make sure you get it done!

The best way to keep active is to find what you enjoy. If you are bored of your current exercise plan, the chances are you won’t stick to it! So try something new, book into a Zumba class, go for a swim, even go for a walk with your family/friends. It doesn’t necessarily matter what form of exercise it is, as long as you are moving your body.

3. Check what you are drinking

coffee - type 2 diabetes prevention

Many people switch up their diet which is fantastic, but people often forget to check what they are drinking!

If you are drinking many cups of tea or coffee a day, with milk and sugar, this unfortunately will add up to a lot of sugar!

Try to reduce (ideally eliminate) any added sugar to teas or coffees, and switch to herbal teas if you are open to it.

Herbal teas have many health benefits, for example green tea is packed with antioxidants, and lemon with ashwaganda tea is fantastic for digestion! If you find herbal teas bland, add a tiny drizzle of honey to make it taste a bit nicer!

4. Get your vitamin D!

Studies have shown that having optimal vitamin D levels is linked to preventing insulin resistance. This essentially means that vitamin D helps the body to utilise sugar effectively, helping sugar to get inside of cells and maintaining optimal blood glucose levels.

I’m not personally very big on supplements, but if you are from somewhere that lacks sun, I would recommend supplementing vitamin D.

Take a supplement that contains 10 micrograms (400 IU) a day (according to NHS guidelines) all year round.

Do not take more than 100 micrograms (4000 IU) a day.

If you are looking at vitamin D supplements for your children, double check the NHS website right here for doses.

5. Eat your anti-inflammatories!

increase insulin sensitivity for type 2 diabetes prevention

Anti-inflammatory foods and herbs help to promote insulin sensitivity. So try to incorporate some of these in your daily diet!

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 80g blueberries
  • 1 avocado
  • 150g salmon
  • 5-7 walnuts

Thank you for reading 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes! I really hope this helps you to make some positive changes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to read 5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c! and my Sausage Casserole Recipe!

Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes

This week I am giving some tips on how to keep your kidneys healthy when living with diabetes!

Lots of people living with diabetes often worry about the complications that occur due to persistent hyperglycaemia. So, I decided to write a series on how to keep organs and systems healthy, and preventing complications from occurring, aside from keeping sugar levels stable!

So be sure to check out How to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes!

1. Drink up!

drink water for healthy kidneys

Drinking adequate water is essential for optimal kidney function. The role of the kidneys is to filter the blood and remove toxins. Without adequate water intake, the efficiency of toxin elimination decreases, which makes the kidneys work harder!

Therefore, it is vital to drink at least 2 litres of water a day (more if you are active!) to aid kidney function and toxin elimination.

To make water more interesting and fresh, add fruits such as lemon, lime or strawberries!

2. Keep your blood pressure in check!

Having high blood pressure can put stress on the blood vessels and filtration tubules in the kidneys. This can lead to weakness and damage, causing protein to leak into the urine.

Having persistent high blood glucose as well as high blood pressure increases the risk of getting kidney disease.

Therefore, it is imperative to control blood pressure as well as blood glucose. This can be achieved by:

Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight (summary below):

Avoid processed foods and table salt. Season food with natural sea salt as your source of sodium.

foods for healthy kidneys

– Eat brown and wholemeal carbs to aid blood glucose control and to add fibre.

– Choose unprocessed protein sources such as chicken, turkey, beans and legumes.

– Eat the rainbow to pack in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Challenge yourself and try to eat 7 a day!

– Get your omega 3’s! Found in salmon, walnuts and chia seeds.

Exercising!

-Try to get a mixture of cardio and resistance training in your weekly regime. Different types of exercise have different benefits so always try and incorporate both types!

Cardio helps to decrease blood pressure and strengthen the heart, and resistance training strengthens bones and builds muscle!

3. Alcohol and smoking

Drinking excessive alcohol can make the kidneys less effective at filtering the blood and removing toxins. Alcohol also causes severe dehydration that could contribute to the formation of kidney stones, infections and other conditions that will cause kidney damage.

So make sure you are watching your alcohol intake and drink sensibly!

Smoking is a no go! Cigarettes are packed with chemicals that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, blood clots and many more diseases!

So if you smoke, I urge you to try and quit. Smoking causes damage to not only the kidneys, but all organs and body tissue.

4. Get your checks!

tests for healthy kidneys

In the UK blood and urine checks are carried out at least twice a year.

These check ups are vital in looking at your general health and to catch any complications of diabetes early!

If you have any kidney damage this will be picked up on urine and blood tests so doctors can act quickly to prevent further damage.

So please make time for these appointments and put your health first!

Thank you for reading How to keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes! I hope you found this information useful and this post helps you to make positive lifestyle changes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Simple guide to fitness with diabetes! and 5 foods diabetics should be eating!

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Diet, Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to read food labelling effectively!

Knowing how to read food labelling is a great skill to have in order to achieve better health.

I just want to note that this post is not to scare you about consuming certain products, it is a guide to choosing products with less processed ingredients if this is what you are interested in.

Knowing where to start can be confusing and misleading! So keep reading for some basic tips to make sure you are buying products that are better quality and more natural.

1. Traffic light labelling

traffic light food labelling

Most products now use traffic light labelling to give you a quick insight into the general nutritional values it provides.

While this can be extremely useful, I would not recommend assuming that a product is ‘healthy’ just because it has all green sections. Use this as a starting basis, and always turn the packet over and look at the rest of the information provided.

I recommend using the traffic light system for packaged products, such as snack bars or crisps. Products like this tend to be higher in saturated fats and sugar, if this is a concern for you then look no further than traffic light labelling.

I find the traffic light system detrimental when buying natural products such as nuts and seeds. Of course products like this are high in fat and show as ‘red’. This does not mean nuts and seeds are ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’, they are high in good fats and are majorly beneficial to the body.

So, to summarise, the traffic light system can be useful, but do not let it cause you to draw a false conclusion about a product too quickly. Read point 2 for the next step!

2. Ingredients list

peanut butter, food labelling

Lets get straight to it, the first 3 ingredients are key when deciding whether or not to buy a product.

If the first 3 ingredients are natural and necessary for the product, it is likely to be good for your health. For example, if peanut butter has 96% peanuts, sustainable palm oil and a pinch of sea salt, this is a product you should go for.

However, if the peanut butter has more than 3 ingredients (which just is not necessary), and some are artificial, there is probably a better option out there! For example peanut butter that has 90% peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated oil and table salt.

A general rule of thumb, if the product has an ingredients list longer than your arm, there is probably a better option out there!

3. E-number look out!

A lot of people simply look for ingredients starting with ‘E’, and assume if there aren’t any, it is additive free!

But unfortunately it is not quite this simple. Manufacturers can use the E-code, actual name of the additive, OR the trade name of an additive. For example, Aspartame could be labelled as Aspartame, E951 or Nutrasweet.

If you would like to limit additives, try to avoid products with really long ingredients lists and always look up ingredients that you do not recognise!

4. Misleading food labels

low sugar, food labelling

A lot of manufacturers use certain colours and phrases on packaging that pull you into a false sense of security.

For example:

  • ‘Low calorie’
  • ‘Sugar-free’
  • ‘Low-fat’
  • ‘Natural’

A product might be ‘sugar-free’, but what has the sugar been replaced with? Most of the time sweeteners are added to decrease the amount of calories. This is a great point to know because you have the choice to consume the version with natural sugar, or the version with sweeteners. I would personally recommend going for products with more natural ingredients.

I also wanted to point out that consuming additives once is a while is not going to cause any damage, so please allow yourself a treat every now and then!

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Thank you so much for reading my tips on how to read food labelling effectively! I really hope you found it useful and please drop me any questions! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this blog, be sure to read 5 ways to improve digestion! and my Simple guide to fitness with diabetes!

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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes

I have been getting a lot of questions recently about complications related to diabetes, so I thought I would write a little series about how to prevent these complications!

This week the focus is on how to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes! Of course the obvious is prevent high blood sugars, but I have gathered a few more tips I hope you find useful!

So, keep reading for my top tips on how to keep your eyes healthy while living with diabetes!

1. Avoid the rollercoaster

High sugar levels alone can cause damage to the eyes, but having extremely high sugar levels followed by low sugar levels can also be very damaging and is best to avoid.

 roller coaster - keeping eyes healthy with diabetes

Drastic fluctuations can be extremely damaging to the blood vessels at the back of the eye because the excess glucose damages the walls of blood vessels. If this is followed by a drastic reduction in blood glucose, it can deprive the eye of oxygen.

Therefore, try to not over-correct a high sugar level and try to gradually bring your glucose back into range.

I like to treat high blood glucose with a small correction dose, and some gentle exercise, such as going for a short walk. If you have an FGM/CGM, keep track of your levels to ensure you do not drop into a hypo after treating a high.

2. Protect your eyes

This is a really important point! And there are a few different factors to consider to keep your eyes protected!

sunglasses to keep eyes healthy with diabetes
  • Wear sunglasses! – Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause eye damage and can lead to long-term eye problems. So make sure you invest in sunglasses with UV protection as cheaper products do not provide adequate protection. 
  • Stay hydrated! – dehydration can cause thinning of tissue in the eyes, as well as making eyes sore and itchy. Looking at screens for a long time can contribute to dryness, so drink lots of water and take regular breaks from staring at screens. If you suffer from dry eyes, also consider buying an eye spray, or drops for extra moisture.
  • Get lots of shut eye! – Sleep is your body’s time for healing and regeneration, so getting adequate sleep is essential for eye health. Try to get yourself in a regular sleep routine, and priorities your self-care time!
  • Quit smoking! – Smoking puts more pressure on the eyes and increases the risk of getting complications from diabetes. Smoking increases blood pressure which can also contribute to eye damage. So if you smoke, I would strongly recommend taking the steps to quit and to prioritise your health.

3. Get your annual screenings

Getting your eyes checked regularly is imperative. I know it isn’t the nicest of processes, but knowing your eyes are healthy can really help to ease the burden of diabetes. I don’t really like getting them checked, but thinking of it like this makes the process a lot more bearable!

Furthermore, if the doctor does find some changes in your eyes, the quicker we know, the better! If damage is found early we can intervene and prevent this damage getting worse, and becoming permanent.

So get organised, arrange your appointments and set reminders to make sure you don’t miss them!

4. Nourish your eyes

There are certain nutrients that are essential for eye health, here is a brief list of what to prioritise!

raw almonds for keeping eyes healthy with diabetes
  • Vitamin A/Beta-carotene – Vitamin A is essential for eye health, sight, and the structure of eye tissue. Generally, vitamin A is found is orange fruit and vegetables, so include carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and mango in your daily diet!
  • Lutein – Lutein provides protection from UV damage and can be found in dark leafy greens! Try to include spinach, kale and Swiss chard in your diet! Dark leaves are also packed with antioxidants which help to prevent damage to body tissues.
  • Omega-3 – Essential fatty acids are great at preventing dryness, and can be found in salmon, mackerel, walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts and chia seeds.

A final point to know, is that having high cholesterol can also massively contribute to eye damage. Eating plenty of unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats can help to balance cholesterol. Unsaturated fats can be found in peanut butter, avocado’s, legumes, fish, nuts and seeds.

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Thank you for reading how to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes! I really hope you found this useful and helps you to protect your eyes! Make sure you subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to read How to stop worrying about diabetic complications! and 5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c!

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Education on Diabetes, Psychological

Diabulimia 101!

This week I would like to turn your attention to a condition called Diabulimia which is unfortunately becoming more common. It is an eating disorder related to diabetes, which can be incredibly dangerous and damaging.

Keep reading for an overview of Diabulimia and how to recognise and support it.

What is Diabulimia?

what is diabulimia

Diabulimia is when an individual living with diabetes (Type 1) stops injecting insulin in order to achieve extreme weight loss.

When people living with diabetes stop injecting insulin, glucose cannot be absorbed and used for energy. Glucose levels will build up in the blood and will eventually be filtered out by the kidneys and removed in urine.

People living with diabetes are susceptible to developing eating disorders because of constantly being ultra-aware of calorie intake, carb counting, and fearing hypo’s. This can result in the individual developing an unhealthy relationship with food and changing insulin doses for weight loss.

A point to note is that women and girls living with diabetes are statistically more likely to develop Diabulimia.

Why is it dangerous?

Having long-term high sugar levels due to not injecting insulin is extremely damaging to the body and can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys and limbs.

eye damage - diabulimia

Excessive glucose in the blood causes damage to small blood vessels. This can potentially result in blindness, Chronic Kidney Disease and neuropathy (to name a few).

Diabulimia also poses the risk of developing DKA (Diabetic Keto-acidosis). This is a very serious complication of diabetes that can be fatal, and can occur very quickly if no insulin is being injected.

This is why it is absolutely vital to get help as soon as signs of Diabulimia show.

What to do if you think you have Diabulimia

Recovery from Diabulimia is absolutely possible, given the correct help and support.

Diabulimia is recognised by GP’s and consultants, so having a chat with them is a good place to start. The consultant or GP will refer you to a specialist to help your recovery.

Managing and living with diabetes can be both mentally and physically challenging. It is super important to address any problem and it is not shameful. Everybody living with diabetes will require support, it does not make you weak.

If you would like to talk to someone you don’t know, Diabetes UK have a helpline to get you started.

How to support someone living with Diabulimia

supporting Diabulimia

If you notice the signs of Diabulimia in a friend or family member living with diabetes, it is definitely worth talking to them about it. This can establish what you can do to help them.

They may become defensive, but the person will know you are there for them and it might help them to realise they have a problem.

The fantastic charity DWED (Diabetes with Eating Disorders) provide support to both the individual with an eating disorder, as well as support and guidance to family and friends. They have two Facebook groups so be sure to check them out!

Thank you for reading my Diabulimia 101, I really hope this was informative and can provide some guidance in these situations. Make sure you subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to read Diabetes technology 101! and How to handle a hypo mid-workout!

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Education on Diabetes, Parents

Supporting a child transitioning into secondary school while living with diabetes

Transitions for children alone are challenging, but taking diabetes into account too can make this process really tough. This is why it is vital to give children living with diabetes the most support we possible can, to make this process bearable.

I thought it would be great if I shared some first-hand tips that really helped me when I went through the process of starting secondary school while managing my diabetes.

So keep reading for my tips on supporting the transition into secondary school while living with diabetes!

1. Educate the school

This might be an obvious point, but the school must be informed about how they can help and what they can do to support living with diabetes in every way. So arranging an in-depth meeting is super important to establish how the school will work with you to meet the child’s needs.

meeting to discuss child's needs

Some points to consider are:

  • Where the child feels comfortable injecting
  • Explaining how to use the technology the child is using (FGM’s, CGM’s, pumps)
  • Hypo plan – informing teachers, access to snacks and so on
  • Educating students and teachers about T1D

A good point to note too, is that even if the school has had previous students living with diabetes (which is great!), it doesn’t necessarily mean they know it all. It is really important that the school recognises that your child might have certain areas they need support with. For example, they might need support with opening up and talking about T1D.

Everyone needs to be clued up during a transition period. All relevant teachers need to be aware of the condition, and know the hypo protocol. The last thing a child needs on top of transitioning into secondary school is inadequate support if they need it, so make sure the school has informed everyone who needs to know about diabetes!

Also make sure you chat with your diabetic consultant/team as I’m aware they sometimes have a designated member of the team who will go and talk to the school, provide education about living with T1D and ultimately ensuring the child’s needs are met.

Get a buddy!

buddy to support living with diabetes

I would absolutely recommend allowing your child to choose a friend who will help and support your child if they have a hypo, or any other need related to diabetes. This was particularly useful to me during the younger years of secondary school as I was shy about my diabetes.

This also really helps to deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation, which every person living with diabetes has experienced. Having a good friend to rely on also helps to build confidence when talking about diabetes.

Learn 3 phrases!

This is a tip that has helped me for a very long time, and still does now!

So, come up with, and learn 3 phrases you or your child can use when people ask ignorant or difficult questions about living with diabetes.

For example, if someone asks ‘should you be eating that with diabetes?’, a good phrase which would work with this is, ‘thank you for your concern, however, I know my body, and I know what it needs.’

Knowing these phrases means you are prepared for any situation, and stops you from having to think on the spot.

For more information on this topic, check out my post on Dealing with annoying questions about diabetes!

Speak up

you are not alone diabetes

By this, I mean speaking up about any issues you or your child is having regarding diabetes. Choose someone you are comfortable with, whether that be a teacher, another family member, or a specialist.

I am a huge advocate for speaking up because this is what enabled me to accept my diagnosis, spread awareness and to be successful no matter what!

A huge topic many people living diabetes find trouble with is talking to other people about living with diabetes. Whether it’s lack of understanding, or ignorant questions, speaking up will help to overcome the issue. A problem shared is a problem halved and often people can give you some really useful advice that helps to build confidence and reduce anxiety!

Ultimately, it is the schools duty to help ensure that the transition into secondary school is smooth, and every child has the support they need to succeed and maintain a healthy mindset.

Thank you so much for reading my tips on supporting a child transitioning into secondary school while living with diabetes! I really hope you find this useful and it will make the transition a bit easier! If you have any questions at all, drop me an email! And be sure you follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Chicken Stew Recipe! and Has your child been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes? Read for my top tips!

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Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to reach diabetic remission!

Being diagnosed with pre-diabetes can be really scary, but having an early diagnosis means you can act quickly. Pre-diabetes is classed as having a HbA1c of between 42-47mmol/mol. 48mmol/mol and above is then classed as having Type 2 diabetes.

If you have an elevated HbA1c it is very likely you also aren’t feeling the best, so it is important to act quickly. Reaching remission and getting your HbA1c back in range is absolutely possible, it takes some lifestyle changes, patience and a positive mindset.

Take that first step for yourself and your health! Keep reading for my tips on reaching diabetic remission!

Get Moving

walking diabetes remission

In order to decrease sugar levels getting movement in is vital for using up some glucose.

I recommend starting simple, and finding what you enjoy. If you are unsure where to start, begin with walking and/or swimming. Find where your fitness level is at, and then work by gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your chosen activity.

Exercise of course aids weight loss which can be essential in reaching diabetic remission. If you want to help keep yourself accountable, think about consulting a personal trainer, or ask a family member or friend to be your accountability and workout partner.

Re-evaluate your diet

Altering what you are eating and making some dietary swaps is vital for decreasing HbA1c and getting back to optimum health.

Firstly, think about swapping white and refined carbohydrates to brown and wholegrain carbohydrates. White carbs can contribute massively to glucose spikes, so it is definitely worth swapping to sources of carbs that release more slowly. For example incorporating brown pasta, rice and bread, oats, quinoa and oat cakes into your diet. Also opt for dark chocolate (70% plus) over chocolates packed with refined sugar.

legumes - diabetic remission

Furthermore, make sure you are getting sources of essential fatty acids everyday. Eating nuts, seeds and legumes helps to reduce inflammation and can also provide a source of protein.

Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, try and aim for at least 7 a day! Also avoid fruit juices from concentrate, fresh fruit juices are fine on occasion, however cranberry juice is much lower in sugar compared to others, so be sure to give cranberry juice a try!

If you would like some further guidance, seek advice from a professional nutritionist.

Invest in technology

blood tests - diabetic remission

In my opinion, it is definitely worth having a blood glucose testing kit. This way you can test your blood glucose if you feel unwell, or it can help to identify what time/times of the day your levels are spiking.

Being able to collect data yourself gives you more control over your health and can help you to reach diabetic remission faster. But please try not to obsess over numbers and remember that it is there for guidance.

In the UK, sometimes testing kits are given on the NHS, but usually only if you ask, so be sure to ask your GP or consultant! If you are from a country where you have to pay, do some research and see what you can find, it doesn’t have to be the flashiest monitor, a basic finger-prick monitor is great. If you can’t afford any technology, don’t panic! It is possible to achieve remission without technology!

Detox and reduce inflammation

Type 2 diabetes causes widespread inflammation, meaning it is vital to aid detoxification to reduce inflammation.

Here are 4 ways to support the liver to aid detoxification:

1.Decrease the toxins going into your body. Try to completely avoid alcohol, refined sugar, table salt and smoking, also limit caffeine intake and swap to organic foods to reduce pesticide intake.

detox - diabetic remission

2. Increase water intake! Water is vital for all functions of the body, including flushing toxins out! I also recommend getting a filter jug and keeping your water at room temperature. Drinking cold water can cause the digestive system to slow down, which we don’t want during detoxing. So drink room temperature water, or warm water.

3. Sweat it out! Another way we get rid of toxins is through sweating. So make sure you are completing at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, you will reap the benefits!

4. Support your liver with nutrients. Increase antioxidant intake by eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, berries, green tea, lemon and so on! Remember to eat the rainbow everyday! Also include garlic, ginger, turmeric and black pepper in your diet everyday.

Decrease your stress load

The hormone cortisol can contribute to chronic hyperglycaemia, therefore being a big factor in developing pre-diabetes.

Chronic stress has a number of detrimental impacts on the body, including high blood pressure, obesity, Type 2 diabetes (and pretty much any illness!).

So confide in family and friends and share how you are feeling. Educate yourself and the people around you about living with diabetes and tell them how they can support you.

Read my posts Is stress making your glucose levels impossible to control? and Confused about ‘types’ of diabetes? Here is your diabetes 101 for more guidance!

Thank you for reading my tips on how to reach diabetic remission, I hope you found this useful and reassuring! Be sure to subscribe for more content and follow me on Instagram!

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Diet, Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

5 ways to improve digestion!

Here are my 5 ways to improve digestion, which are super easy! Supporting and improving digestion is vital for health, whether that’s supporting glucose control, increasing energy levels or aiding weight loss. When digestion is poor a range of problems and illnesses can arise, such as autoimmune conditions, allergies and intolerances.

So, keep reading for 5 ways to improve your digestion and promote your health!

1.Eat prebiotic foods

It is commonly known that we have bacteria in our digestive system, which is called the microbiome.

banana = prebiotic food

There are strains of bacteria which are beneficial for us, and others that are detrimental. The beneficial strains promote health because they aid digestion, absorption and can even help to make vital nutrients, for example folate.

The following foods are fantastic prebiotic foods to include in your diet, yogurt, kimchi, bananas, miso, and pretty much any fermented foods.

If you would like to take an extra step, taking a probiotic supplement with your main meal will help to repopulate the good strains of bacteria in the gut.

2. Avoid refined sugar

Refined sugar can be extremely detrimental to health. Not only does refined sugar contribute to glucose spikes, it also feeds the bad bacteria in the gut. This can lead to digestive complications, such as bloating, SIBO, leaky gut syndrome and many more!

avoid refined sugar for digestive health

So I would definitely recommend cutting down on refined sugar, especially if you are struggling with digestive issues such as bloating. It is alright to have an occasional treat, but just be aware that refined sugars are not your friend and may worsen digestive symptoms.

Try and stick to natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables and natural sweeteners (like honey), rather than white sugar or artificial sweeteners.

3. Don’t drink with meals!

This may come as a surprise to you but drinking a lot of liquid with food is not great for digestion.

I don’t just mean alcohol, I am also referring to hot drinks, soft drinks and even water.

When we drink a lot of liquid with food, it can dilute digestive enzymes, making digestion slower and sluggish. This can also be a big factor that contributes towards bloating for many people.

beer - don't drink with meals

Furthermore, fizzy drinks and alcohol can outcompete food, meaning that they will be absorbed ahead of beneficial nutrients.

Remember that water is vital for digestion, but water needs to be consumed throughout the day to replenish digestive juices, rather than mostly being consumed at meal times.

So, if you need a drink with meals, sip fresh, room temperature water while eating and wait around 20-30 minutes after eating to drink lots of water. Prioritise drinking the bulk of your water between meals!

4. Pack in fibre!

Fibre aids the flow of digestion and passing stools. This is vital because this is a major way we eliminate toxins. When digestion is poor, we do not absorb nutrients effectively and we do not eliminate toxins effectively.

brown carbs - fibre

So eating enough fibre is vital for regulating bowel habits, and keeping the whole body healthy.

Furthermore, fibre feeds healthy strains of bacteria in the gut, which helps to prevent the over-growth of bad bacteria.

Add more fibre to your diet by swapping to wholegrain and brown carbs, eating fruit, leafy vegetables and legumes.

5. Eat Mindfully

Eating mindfully means knowing exactly what you are eating and paying full attention while you are eating. For example, thinking about the texture, taste and smell of the food that you are eating.

When people are not concentrating properly while eating, they tend to eat too quickly, chew food inadequately and will potentially overeat. This will impair digestion and may mean the person is not getting the full benefits from the foods they are eating.

So try to eat without distractions, chew your food as much as possible to make digestion and absorption more efficient, and sip water while eating.

Thank you for reading my 5 ways to improve digestion, I hope you found these tips useful! Make sure you subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to read my Delicious Banana Brownie Recipe! and Simple guide to fitness with diabetes!

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Education on Diabetes

Diabetes technology 101!

After talking about diabetes technology in my last post How to stop worrying about diabetic complications!, it would be informative to explain what types of diabetes technology is out there, what they do and the differences between them!

So keep reading for your diabetes technology 101, and to find out everything you need to know to get started!

Flash Glucose Monitoring (intermittent glucose monitoring)

FGM’s are small sensors that you scan with a receiver to view your sugar levels. The receiver can either be a monitor that looks similar to a finger- prick monitor, or can you connect your sensor to your phone via an app. 

FGM’s tend to be placed on the upper arm, and have to be removed and replaced every 2 weeks. 

FGM diabetes technology 101

FGM’s take glucose readings from the interstitial fluid (fluid between cells), but can sometimes have a 10 minute lag. This means occasionally finger-prick tests might be needed, if you feel differently to what your sensor is telling you. 

The FreeStyle Libre is a type of FGM, and is now widely used across the UK and being distributed by the NHS to individuals who fit ‘the criteria’. 

The current criteria in the UK to get an FGM is: 

1.T1D’s who check glucose levels more than 8x a day 

2. T1D’s how have severe hypo’s or reduced awareness of hypo’s 

3. Any individual with diabetes who also suffers from kidney problems 

4. Pregnancy 

5. Cystic fibrosis induced diabetes with insulin therapy

FGM’s are fantastic for establishing what foods or factors could be causing glucose spikes.

For example for my FreeStyle Libre showed me what tends to happen to my sugar levels when I eat certain foods. I find that when I eat potatoes, I spike very quickly, and then drop into a hypo fairly soon after. In order to prevent this I always go for a walk after eating potatoes and then I have a little snack to keep my levels balanced.

CGM’s

CGM stands for Continuous Glucose Monitor, and it is a sensor that can be applied to a variety of places on the body. 

For example the Dexcom can be placed on the lower stomach, upper arm or upper bottom. 

CGM sensors have to be changed like FGM’s. How often they need to be changed depends on the brand. For example some models have to be changed every 7 days, while others don’t need to be changed for weeks. 

CGM’s also take glucose readings from the interstitial fluid rather than the blood. The test reading is automatically sent to the connected device where you can see what your sugars are doing. This makes glucose testing much easier for people living with diabetes, because you can simply read the glucose results on your phone, rather than having to get your whole kit out and perform a finger-prick test. 

The current criteria for getting a CGM in the UK is: 

1.Having at least 2 hypo’s a week without being aware 

2. Complete unawareness/ lack of feeling hypo’s 

3. Having extreme fear of hypo’s 

4. Consistently having a HbA1c of 75 mmol/mol despite testing glucose more than 10 times a day 

CGM’s are fantastic for better glucose control and lowering HbA1c, because they allow you to identify factors causing your hyper or hypoglycaemia episodes. 

CGM’s and FGM’s sound pretty similar right! The main difference between a CGM and FGM, is that CGM’s send updates on your sugar levels continuously (by Bluetooth) without you having to do anything. FGM’s however, only gives you information when you scan the sensor yourself. The CGM also has the ability to set an alarm off if your glucose is entering hyper or hypoglycaemia range, which can be pretty useful! 

Pumps

Pumps are devices that administer insulin into the body, rather than having to manually inject.

There are two types of pumps, Patch pumps and Tethered pumps.

Patch pumps are directly attached to the skin (like a CGM or FGM). Tethered pumps have a tube connected to a pump that can sit in the pocket, or can be attached to a belt. 

Both pump types are connected to be body by a cannula, in general cannulas need be changed every couple of days. The individual living with diabetes will be taught how to change the cannula themselves. 

The current pump criteria in the UK is: 

1.T1D’s who cannot reach their target HbA1c without having severe hypo’s 

2. An elevated HbA1c despite carefully trying to manage diabetes 

If you’re living with diabetes and fit the criteria for getting a pump, I would recommend researching types of pumps more in-depth and of course talking to your diabetic team.

The information I have outlined on Insulin pumps is quite brief, so click here for some further information on pumps and how you can get started.  

Making a decision

Also remember that technology does not suit everyone, try what you are comfortable and ready for! For example, I am more than happy just having an FGM, and I personally do not want a pump. I manage my diabetes and hit my HbA1c target with my FGM and manual injections. 

If I’m being completely honest, I would absolutely ask your team and push to try some new tech if you want to try it out. Your team may not be fully willing to let you try the latest test tech, but you will not know how well it works until you try it! (And nor will your team).

Price diabetes technology 101

If you do not fit the criteria for getting an FGM, CGM or Pump on the NHS (in the UK), you can purchase technology. Ask your diabetic team for more guidance on prices and options should you be interested.

And as I advised in my previous blog, I would recommend starting with an FGM if you’re interested. They are generally smaller and easier to get along with when transitioning to new technology.

Thank you so much for reading my Diabetes technology 101! I really hope you found this information useful, and it has inspired you to look into new types of diabetes technology. If you have any questions or need further guidance be sure to drop me a message! Please subscribe and give me a follow on Instagram!

If you liked this blog be sure to read 5 foods diabetics should be eating! and my Delicious Banana Brownie Recipe!

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Education on Diabetes, Psychological, Top Tips

How to stop worrying about diabetic complications!

Firstly, I wanted to say that it is important to be aware of the long-term diabetic complications that can be caused by persistent hyperglycaemia. BUT, constantly worrying about this is only going to make you stressed, miserable and can even be majorly contributing to hyperglycaemia!

So, if you regularly worry about getting long-term complications, keep reading for my tips and advice on how to stop worrying about getting diabetic complications!

Reduce your stress load

You might just be stressed due to worrying about complications that diabetes can cause, however from my experience, I only start to worry about this when there are other big stress factors in my life.

When people are stressed, it starts with one large stress factor, followed by smaller factors that add up to create an overwhelming feeling.

Having a high stress load can have a massive impact on your health, from interrupting sleep, causing binge eating, or no eating at all, not to mention the impact stress can have on glucose levels.

stress management for diabetic complications

My point is – we must look at ways to decrease your stress load!

My advice is to get pen and paper, and create a list of all of the factors that are currently causing you stress, no matter how big or small the factor feels.

Next, go through this list and write next to it one little thing you can do to relieve this stress factor. For example, if you have a headache, drink a glass of fresh water.

Once you have ticked off the ‘smaller stressors’, I guarantee you will feel less daunted.

When it comes to complications that surrounds diabetes, I want you to think of what you can do right now. So if you have hyperglycaemia and it’s making you worried, firstly drink a glass of fresh water, secondly grab your diabetic kit and do a form of low -impact exercise, such as a walk if you can. Clear your head and your sugars will begin to come back down into range.

Another point I wanted to make is that if your hyperglycaemia is out of your control, i.e. you’re ill, do not be hard on yourself! Again, do what you can, and remember that a small phase where you have high glucose levels does not automatically mean you will get long-term complications.

Take a holistic look at your lifestyle

Here I don’t just mean looking at your diet and exercise, I mean looking at all of the individual parts that contribute to health and happiness.

For example:

  • Sleep
  • Water intake (fresh, filtered water)
  • How you feel about yourself
  • Toxin load
  • Fresh air and sunlight
  • Getting movement in
  • A diet rich in whole foods

All of these factors contribute towards your health and well-being.

So by focussing on factors such as making you sure you get adequate sleep and water, taking time to be outside, moving your body and fuelling with whole foods, I guarantee you will feel more positive about yourself and your life.

Furthermore, all of these factors decrease the likelihood of getting long-term diabetic complications! So prioritise self-care, it is not selfish! It is a necessity!

Get advanced technology!

I know it can be hard to get the latest tech due to financial circumstances or enormous waiting lists in healthcare systems, but I really encourage everyone living with diabetes to try a sensor, at least!

My advice is to start with a flash glucose monitor, because they are small and easy to use. I use the FreeStyle Libre sensor and I have never felt better about my sugar levels and living with diabetes! This piece of technology has helped me to achieve my lowest HbA1c and has allowed me to look at what factors influence my sugar levels the most.

FreeStyle Libre - diabetic complications

I also wanted to say to people who might be worried and embarrassed about wearing a sensor, that the benefits you could see mentally and physically will soon take more importance. At first I was terrified to get a sensor because people would know I have Type 1 diabetes just from looking at me. But I soon realised that my health is WAY more important than a couple of people who might make negative comments about my diabetes. People are actually really interested and often have very positive things to say!

Using the Freestyle Libre has truly changed my perspective about living with diabetes and has really helped me to stop worrying about short-term and long-term complications of diabetes. So please give more advanced technology a try if you get the opportunity, it could change your life the same way it changed mine!

It’s ok not to be ok!

No matter who you are or what your situation is, sometimes it is ok not to be ok!

If you’re super stressed and your mind keeps slipping back to worrying about the complications that surround diabetes, the first step is to accept that you are stressed and worried.

self care -diabetic complications

The next step is to vent. Vent to whoever you want, even write it down and then throw it away! A problem shared is a problem halved, it will make you feel so much lighter and less worried about complications!

Next, you need to help yourself. This can be by looking holistically at your lifestyle, talking to your diabetes team, or seeking extra help by consulting a nutritionist or well-being coach for example.

And if you think you have no one to talk to, always remember I am here, I understand what you are going through (or I will do my best to). My messages are open so please utilise this if you need or want to!

thank you - diabetic complications

Thank you so much for reading my tips on how to stop worrying about getting diabetic complications! Subscribe for more content and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this blog be sure to read Is stress making your glucose levels impossible to control? and How to set sustainable goals for yourself!