SHOCKING new research today revealed that one third of all hospital deaths from Covid-19 in England have been among diabetics.
Experts said the major study, which included all patients hospitalised with coronavirus over ten weeks, showed that diabetes – which is often fuelled by obesity – is driving Britain’s death toll.
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One third of all hospital deaths from Covid-19 in England have been among diabeticsCredit: Getty – Contributor
In particular, it revealed that Brits with type 2 diabetes face double the risk of dying if they catch the deadly virus.
This revelation has inspired many people with type 2 diabetes to try and get their condition into “remission” – this means that your blood sugar levels are healthy without needing to take any diabetes medication.
But how exactly can you reverse type 2 diabetes? Well evidence suggests that the key to remission is weight loss.
In particular, research from Diabetes UK has shown that losing around 15kg within three to five months significantly improves your chances of putting your type 2 diabetes into remission.
It’s important to point out that if you do want to start losing weight quickly to work towards remission, you should talk to a healthcare professional before you begin.
Here, with the help of some top experts, we take you through some of the main ways to reverse type 2 diabetes…
1. Keep active
One way people can increase their chances of reversing type 2 diabetes is through regular exercise.
This is because keeping active can help you keep your weight under control and reduce your cholesterol – a risk factor in diabetes.
Emma Shields, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, told The Sun Online: “We understand that people might not have access to their usual form of exercise but staying at home doesn’t have to mean we move less.
Things like hoovering, dancing to music, or working in the garden – if you have one – can all count
Emma ShieldsSenior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK
“There’s lots you can still do to increase your heart rate.
“Things like hoovering, dancing to music, or working in the garden – if you have one – can all count.”
Dr Daniel Atkinson, clinical lead at Treated.com, adds that even you don’t get some exercise every day, those with type 2 diabetes should still aim for a weekly target of two and a half hours.
He says: “Go for walks outside and get some fresh air – but be sure to practise social distancing when you do so.”
What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
- Feeling thirsty all the time
- Feeling very tired
- Losing weight without trying to
- Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
- Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
- Blurred vision
You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are over 40 (or 25 for south Asian people)
- Have a close relative with diabetes (such as a parent, brother or sister)
- Are overweight or obese
- Are of south Asian, Chinese, African Caribbean or black African origin (even if you were born in the UK)
2. Follow a low-carb diet
Some people have put their diabetes into remission by losing weight through a low-carb diet.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of patientaccess.com, says: “In the last few years, more and more people with type 2 diabetes have been following a low-carb diet.
“Replacing ‘refined’ carbs with lots of low-carb vegetables and foods with low ‘glycaemic index’ (a measure of how fast food is absorbed and causes your blood sugar levels to spike) can help you lose weight.
“But in addition, it may even allow you to put your diabetes into ‘remission’ – allowing you to stop your medicine but keep your blood sugar levels normal.”
Generally, low-carb eating is when you reduce the total amount of carbs you consume in a day to less than 130g.
To put this into context, a medium-sized slice of bread is about 15 to 20g of carbs, which is about the same as a regular apple. On the other hand, a large jacket potato could have as much as 90g of carbs, as does one litre of orange juice.
3. Drink plenty
One of the best ways to lose weight and get type 2 diabetes under control is through drinking more water.
This is because water is known to boost your metabolism, cleanse your body of waste and it also acts as an appetite suppressant.
Helen Bond, registered dietitian, told The Sun: “Drinking enough water and fluid is essential to help our body’s function well.
“We get some fluid from the foods we eat, but on top of this, it’s estimated women need around 1.6 litres of fluid and men around two litres a day.
“Water is the best choice as it’s calorie and sugar free, but tea and coffee, low sugar squashes, reduced fat milks and diet fizzy drinks also count towards our fluid intakes.”
4. Moderate your alcohol intake
Cutting down on your alcohol intake can help to maximise your weight loss and boost your chances of reversing type 2 diabetes.
This is because alcohol has a sneaky way of increasing your daily calorie intake without you realising it.
One pint of beer contains an average of 208 calories while a glass of wine may contain 83 calories.
On top of this many people find themselves reaching for a pizza or a kebab after a night of heavy drinking – which will make your calorie intake go up even more.
Helen says: “Make sure you stick to no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, as drinking too much alcohol can irritate our digestive system and can also interfere with your blood sugar levels.
“Alcohol can also contain a lot of calories, which can lead us to putting on weight.”
5. Cook meals from scratch
Cooking meals from scratch puts you in control – and should help you to cut down on unhealthy foods.
Dr Atkinson says: “Being at home more may give you the opportunity to eat fresh food and make home cooked meals more often than you normally would.
“You should reduce your intake of processed foods like ready meals, and cook your meals from scratch so you can have control over the amount of fat, salt and sugar is in your food.
Cook your meals from scratch so you can have control over the amount of fat, salt and sugar is in your food
Dr Daniel AtkinsonClinical lead at Treated.com
“Recipes are easy to find online, and easy to follow, if cooking is not your strength.”
Emma, from Diabetes UK, adds: “Now we’re spending more time at home, it’s a great chance to experiment with new recipes and foods.
“Cooking from scratch puts you in control, so you know exactly what’s in your meals.
“Why not start by thinking about how you can get more vegetables into your meals? For example by grating carrot or courgette into pasta sauces, stews or soups.”
6. Cut down on takeaways
Takeaways are often cheap, convenient and satisfying but, unfortunately, they’re not always very healthy. Some takeaway meals can push you over your recommended daily maximum amount of salt and fat.
Dr Atkinson urges people to limit how many takeaways they have every month, particularly those with type 2 diabetes.
“Ordering a takeaway as a treat once in a while is fine, but you should try to keep it as that – maybe ordering one a week, or once a fortnight,” he says.
“Set aside the night to order yourself a takeaway, like a Friday night, and plan your meals for the rest of the week.
“Social distancing should still be observed when ordering food, so pay for your meal online to avoid having to pay cash, and consider that you may not be able to collect your food from the delivery person themselves, but rather “from a safe distance.”
7. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep can help aid weight loss – because sleep affects two “hunger hormones” known as ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is released after the brain signals the stomach is empty, while leptin is released from fat cells to suppress hunger – and tell the brain it’s full.
But, when you don’t get enough kip, the body makes more ghrelin and less leptin – leaving you hungry and increasing your appetite.
Helen says: “Sleep is so important for your gut, immune and overall health, so try to get the NHS recommended six to nine hours of sleep every night.
“Your gut and immune health will thank you.”
8. Buy fewer snacks
People can help themselves move closer to putting their type 2 diabetes into remission is by cutting down on unhealthy snacks.
Helen says: “The danger of being cooped up at home all the time, fed up and missing friends and family, is that we look to food to cheer ourselves up.
“So it’s time to stop buying in too many high calorie, high fat, high salt foods during lockdown – they will do your blood sugars, cholesterol levels and heart health no favours.
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“If you don’t have them in the house, you will not be tempted to constantly raid the fridge and cupboards, when you need a little pick-me-up to fill in the boredom gap.”
Despite the above top tips, Diabetes UK say everyone with type 2 diabetes is different – and something may work for some, while they may not work for others.
Emma, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, concludes: “There isn’t a one size fits all so what is important to remember is that whatever you decide to do, it should work for you.”
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Healthy breakfast recommendations from someone who’s combatting type 2 diabetes