Strictly's Nikita Kuzmin talks about being diagnosed with diabetes
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Roughly 13 million people in the UK are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes – a condition characterised by high blood sugar levels. The signs of the disease can vary from person to person and be subtle so as to not raise any suspicion. With that in mind, Doctor Paul McArdle has shared a key symptom you “might not have noticed”.
He said: “When the levels of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood are too high it can cause a lot of symptoms, however people with type 2 diabetes often don’t notice any symptoms prior to diagnosis.
“This is because the condition develops slowly, and we quite often run blood tests in people at high risk, so it gets picked up early.
“However, there are some important symptoms to watch out for, including feeling tired, thirsty, and peeing a lot – especially at night.
“You might not have noticed that you’ve started to take a glass of water to bed or that you’re getting up more in the night to visit the loo.”
Other “less obvious symptoms” that can show up include genital itching, thrush, blurred vision or wounds that take longer to heal.
The need to drink more water is connected to the increased need to urinate that comes with diabetes.When you have diabetes, your kidneys work extra hard to remove excess glucose from your blood. But at a point, your kidneys can’t keep up.
Glucose builds up in your urine and as a result, brings lots of fluid with it, explains the Mayo Clinic.
Doctor McArdle added: “If you have any of these symptoms and think you may have type 2 diabetes, contact your GP, or call NHS 111 to get advice about testing.”
Diabetes isn’t necessarily just down to eating lots of sugar. It can be inherited and is strongly linked to other lifestyle factors.
Obesity, your overall diet, and how active you are also contribute to the onset of diabetes.
The best ways to control your blood sugar, according to Doctor McArdle
“Whilst sugar isn’t necessarily a cause of diabetes, removing obvious sources of sugar from the diet is an important first step if you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,” he said.
The first “really simple” step he recommends is making some swaps from foods and drinks high in sugar to no-sugar alternatives.
He said: “Non-sugar sweeteners can be used in hot drinks like tea or coffee and can be a great help towards reducing your sugar intake in those drinks too.
“There’s a wide range of different types in tablet, liquid, and granular forms so try a few different ones to find the one that suits you best, there are 11 non-sugar sweeteners approved for use in the UK and each has a unique flavour profile and range of benefits.”
There is some debate among health professionals about how beneficial non-sugar sweeteners are. Some observational studies have connected non-sugar sweeteners to a range of health problems, including glucose intolerance, and stroke.
One study by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia found that two weeks of consuming high amounts of sweeteners could change the way the body reacts to sugar – which increases your risk of diabetes. Researchers gave 27 people one of two sweeteners, acesulfame-K or a dummy placebo. Those who consumed the acesulfame-K were found to have higher glucose intolerance.
But health experts that weren’t involved in the study explained that it had limitations, such as being based on a small group of people.
Emma Elvin, clinical advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “This is a small study with interesting results, but it doesn’t provide strong evidence that artificial sweeteners increase the risk of type two diabetes.”
In another study, thousands of people were asked to record everything they ate and drank over a three-day period.
The researchers found that people who regularly consumed artificial sweeteners had a nine percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which include things like heart disease and stroke.
But this study didn’t explain exactly why the association existed. Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “Observational studies like these can only show a link, and more research is needed to understand the relationship between artificial sweeteners and the risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases.”
The NHS concludes: “It’s been suggested that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and, therefore, may play a role in weight gain and obesity.“But research into sweeteners and appetite stimulation is inconsistent. Also, there’s little evidence from longer term studies to show that sweeteners cause weight gain.”
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