Diabetes is a condition in which the level of sugar in the blood is too high.
In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar is too high due to the insulin produced by the pancreas not working properly, or because the pancreas can’t make enough insulin.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood.
It does this by transferring glucose in the blood to the body’s cells, which fuels the body with energy.
Without insulin, or if insulin is unable to do it’s job properly, glucose will stay in the blood.
This is dangerous because if left untreated it can lead to problems involving the eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart.
Aside from taking medication, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by following a healthy lifestyle and losing excess weight.
This is because people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from complications, and develop the condition in the first place, as a build-up of fat increases insulin resistance.
Losing excess weight can therefore help minimise the effects of type 2 diabetes and prevent complications from occurring.
According to Tilly Spurr, nutritionist at Future Fit Training, a rapid weight loss diet may be the best at reducing symptoms of diabetes.
Health experts usually promote gradual weight loss diets as a means of shedding excess weight, as they are more sustainable in the long term.
However, according to Spurr, “recent studies in diabetic individuals have shown quick weight loss reduces the amount of fat in the liver and pancreas and can put diabetes in to remission”.
“Put simply, most body fat stores are quite stable but the fat around the organs breaks down quickly when there is a sudden need for energy.”
“Removal of this fat improves glucose regulation and this will make further weight loss easier.”
Spurr recommends meal replacement drinks as a means to achieve rapid weight loss, but warns they should only be consumed for a minimal length of time.
“These [meal replacement drinks] do little to teach healthy eating habits but have been shown to have a greater than expected effect on reducing diabetic symptoms,” said Spurr.
“They should only be used for a short period of time before returning to full meals and ideally with medical supervision.”
Outside of weight loss, Spurr recommends the DASH, Mediterranean, Nordic and Okinawa diets as methods to lower the risk of diabetes and boost insulin sensitivity.
“Looking at these diets closely there are several similarities between them that are important,” said Spurr.
“All of them include high fibre intake, plenty of fruit and veg, include seafood or fish, promote healthy oils and the use of herbs, spices, nuts, seeds and berries. Low-fat dairy is encouraged but animal protein intake is low.”
“All the diets are particularly high in phytonutrients and polyphenol flavonoids and carotenoids which are responsible for fruit and vegetables colours and are linked to better insulin sensitivity and regulation.”