Diabetes

Diabetes is a growing phenomenon – with the World Health Organisation reporting approximately 8.5% of adults in the world have diabetes (2014 data – so its probably increased since then!), with 1.6million deaths from diabetes directly, and another 2.2million deaths from elevated blood glucose levels, in 2016 alone.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where your body doesn’t store your glucose into the body correctly – and leaves excess in the blood stream.

Glucose – is a fuel nutrient – and we need it to survive.

To get a good understanding of diabetes and the role of exercise – lets break it down simply.

Normal glucose pathway:

Food is broken down and absorbed into the blood through our digestive system – these nutrients are released and travel along the blood stream to the cells and organs that need them.

Once glucose travels to our muscle and liver cells (the storage cells for glucose), the body recognises the elevation of glucose levels, and secretes insulin from the pancreas.

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Insulin is the hormone that attaches to insulin receptors on the cell wall, which allows glucose channels to open – and glucose to flow into the storage cells – and removed from the blood.

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Glucose can also transfer into the cell via transport pumps – but not as well as the insulin method.

The problem with diabetes:

same process – initially

Food is broken down and absorbed into the blood through our digestive system – these nutrients are released and travel along the blood stream to the cells and organs that need them.

Once glucose travels to our muscle and liver cells (the storage cells for glucose), the body recognises the elevation of glucose levels, and secretes insulin from the pancreas.

BUT…. the storage cell insulin receptors don’t recognise insulin – so insulin doesn’t attach, and glucose does not get transported into the cell. More glucose is absorbed from the meal, and blood glucose levels rise.

7. diabetes extra glucose in cell

This causes an increase in insulin to be released from the pancreas, and overtime, the pancreas becomes tired, and no longer produces insulin correctly (leading to diabetes sufferers to have to inject insulin).

When there is too much glucose floating around it can cause damage to the blood vessels, organs, and nerves of the body, resulting in:

  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Retinopathy (eye damage = visual loss)
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Peripherial vascular disease

And extra insulin in the blood stream make it very hard to lose fat – as your body stops using fat as a fuel in an attempt to burn up all the glucose (Most people on insulin will admit to it being harder to lose weight!).

What can be done about it?

The 2 lifestyle adjustments that can dramatically reduce your blood glucose levels are:

Nutrition and Exercise

Nutrition:

Stay away from sugary foods/drinks and reduce carbohydrate intake – try and eat only complex – slower absorbing carbohydrates (ie brown rice vs white rice, reduce potatoes/pastas/breads).

This will reduce the influx of glucose, by slower absorption into the blood – allowing the few insulin hormones and glucose transfer pumps to do their job.

Exercise:

Exercise causes the cells to become more sensitive to insulin, therefore allow insulin to attach and the glucose channels to open: more insulin working, more channels open, increased rate of storage = less blood glucose.

Exercise also increases the transfer pump action, and also reduces body weight – which contributes to cells losing their insulin sensitivity.

Exercise is so good at storing glucose, it has been shown to be better than many of the common diabetes tablets – and just a 10min walk after every meal can drop BGL readings by 15%

How much exercise:

All forms of exercise help to reduce blood glucose – (resistance & cardio), however it can also occur from as simple as 30mins of walking per day!

If you don’t believe me – check your BGLs before and after a walk – I can guarantee the results will surprise you!

How to exercise safely:

The only real issue with diabetes and exercise is ensuring that you don’t reduce your glucose too much and have, what we call, a hypo (hypoglycemia). So the safety rule is – don’t exercise if your blood glucose levels are below 5mmol/L.

All this means is – try not to exercise on an empty stomach – so time it after a meal, and you will be ok.

**If you are looking at exercising for extended periods (60+mins) or very high intensities (marathons/crossfit/sprinting) – it would be a good idea to seek professional advice, and at a minimum – check your BGLs before and after your session – to make sure you’re not dropping too low!

Don’t let diabetes stop you from living a normal and healthy life – so get out there and start walking today.
Have fun in your health journey, and remember to stay true to yourself.
Authentic Health and Fitness.

Posted in: Exercise, Health

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