4.3 million people in the UK suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. And a further 2.4 million are at risk of developing the condition,. So qualified nutritional therapist and naturopath Caroline Peyton shares some tips on how to take positive and preventative action by amending your dietary choices.

Find Caroline, who has run clinics in Wiltshire and the Cotswolds for more than a decade, here –

Cutting Type 2 Diabetes Risk - Caroline Peyton
Cutting Type 2 Diabetes Risk – Caroline Peyton

About the condition

Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to control the levels of glucose circulating in the bloodstream. This occurs for two reasons:

a) The pancreas is no longer able to produce enough insulin. That’s the hormone that controls the movement of sugar into the cells for your body to use as energy production.

b) The body’s cells no longer recognise the signal to take up glucose from the bloodstream. The cells then become resistant to insulin and cannot take up the glucose leaving levels in the blood at danger levels.

Type 2 diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease because dietary and lifestyle choices (like exercise) can determine whether you’re at risk of developing it. Dr David Unwin, a GP in Southport, won the NHS Innovator of the Year award in 2016 for his work with diabetes patients. He proved that making dietary adjustments can help to reverse the effects of Type 2 Diabetes.

Diabetes awareness week

Ahead of Diabetes Awareness Week (June 12-18), here are my top tips for reducing your consumption of foods that can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

Your focus should be on reducing all sugary and starchy foods as these deliver too much sugar into the bloodstream too fast.

1. Starchy grains

Did you know that all grains – like wheat, oats and barley – are starches? They are a rich source of simple sugars (glucose) which become transported into the bloodstream. But, white refined grains – like bread, pasta and white rice – have lost their fibre content. We digest these more rapidly to become simple sugars, which can spike blood sugar levels. So you want to avoid white refined grains and only eat wholegrains (such as oats, brown rice, and wholegrain bread) in small portions, once a day. My top tip is to avoid pasta altogether!

2. Wheat-based products

Wheat-based products: Far too many of our food choices contain wheat. Think pizza, pies, pastry, crackers, cakes and biscuits. These tend to lack sufficient protein and fats and are often served alongside more starchy foods like potatoes. It’s a starch/sugar overload! My tip is to choose one or the other.

3. Starchy (root) vegetables

The word starch highlights the sugar content of these foods. Many of these are what we know as the root vegetables like potatoes – both white and sweet varieties -, parsnips, swede, beetroot and turnips. Sweetcorn and butternut squash are also starchy vegetables. Beetroot, sweet potato and squashes are nutritious choices, so you can eat these in moderation. And carrots, while belonging to the root vegetable family, are actually non-starchy. If you eat the others, keep them to small portions and do not eat them with other starchy foods: eg. potato and parsnip, beetroot and pasta, squash and rice. Choose one or the other.

4. Cereals

Did you know that most of the cereals we eat are based on refined grains and deliver far too much sugar into the body? The marketing hype may mention added nutrients and fibre, but the carbohydrate/sugar levels are usually too high to be a wise breakfast choice. Also, you should be careful when choosing ‘healthy looking’ muesli or granola because the combination of grains and dried fruit increases the sugar content. My tip is to avoid them.

5. Fruits

But fruit is healthy, right? Many fruits have a high sugar or starch level. Tropical fruits (pineapple, mango), grapes and bananas tend to be the worst culprits as they quickly deliver sugar into the bloodstream. Eat fruits in moderation, no more than two portions a day. Dried fruit and fruit juices are even worse choices as they have even higher sugar levels.

The vast majority of the population eats too many of these foods every day. Be mindful of your choices, reduce your overall intake and you will be helping to keep your risk of Type 2 Diabetes at bay.

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