Receiving a diagnosis from the doctor can feel like you’re disconnected from what’s happening to you. But that couldn’t be further from the truth and Nige proves it. Find out how he reversed his diabetes fate in record time and lost weight in the process by working with Natalie.
The diagnosis from the doctors
Nige went for a standard routine blood test at the doctor’s but what he didn’t expect was to hear the words, “You’re pre-diabetic” from the GP. It was a complete shock as he wasn’t even aware that he was close to being pre-diabetic, yet his HbA1c (the marker for diabetes) was in pre-diabetes range. Why had no one told him his blood sugars were creeping up?
The GP referred Nige to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – an online group that supports pre-diabetics to make changes and avoid diabetes – but in Nige’s own words it was “useless” and not something he felt was benefiting from.
After six months, Nige went back to the GP to see how he was getting on. Admittedly, nothing much had changed in relation to his eating, so he didn’t expect it to be any better, but he certainly didn’t expect it to be any worse.
“You’re HbA1c level is just one number away from being a diabetic” – GP.
How could this happen so quickly?!
Determined not to become a type 2 diabetic, Nige researched for people who could help and found us at Integral Wellness, finally hopeful he would get the support he needed.
“I needed real advice and help about foods, what to eat, what to avoid and why etc – and I needed to be able to talk to a human being about it all, not just read information for myself (which was still confusing).”
Changing food habits
Diabetes isn’t a condition that happens overnight – although for Nige it certainly felt like it had – it’s the result of consistently high blood sugars based on several factors including:
- What you eat
- How well you sleep
- Your exercise choices
- And stress levels
Nige was keen to tackle the food aspect first. There were a lot of meals and food choices that were doing his body good – oily fish, vegetables, salads – but he knew the snacks and possibly some carbohydrate choices weren’t helping him.
Keen to know the ‘why’ behind certain food changes, so he could get in control of his blood sugars for the long term, I talked Nige though some key points that disrupt blood sugars when it comes to food.
- What foods help regulate blood sugars and what foods tend to spike them
- Easy swaps to keep everyone happy with family meals
- The impact of grazing, or frequent snacking, throughout the day
- The best foods to choose for a snack if hungry between meals
- How to manage food choices when travelling with work
- The order to eat foods when out enjoying yourself
Busy with work and sometimes having limited time to make changes or meals, Nige and I worked step-by-step over 3 months, keeping all changes realistic and manageable for the weeks ahead of him.
Having someone to discuss food choices with made a huge difference to Nige and his ability to be able to make a change. It wasn’t confusing anymore and he wasn’t left wondering if he was, or wasn’t, doing the right thing. It was clear and he knew exactly what to do – so he did it and his results speak for themselves!
“Natalie is very knowledgeable, patient and caring…is contactable most times for advice and actually talks to you through the programme!”
Restoring sleep and getting energy back
Although the food was key for Nige’s success, we couldn’t ignore how fatigued he was and how much his sleep was disrupted by waking in the night. A poor night’s sleep can disrupt blood sugars and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Alongside Nige’s pre-diabetes diagnosis, the GP prescribed Statins to help reduce cholesterol levels too. This medication is quite common, but it can cause fatigue and blood sugar issues as it depletes certain nutrients.
I was conscious the Statins could increase Nige’s diabetes risk and therefore recommended some additional supplements to help ensure the nutrients for energy were provided. We also worked on ways to improve Nige’s deep sleep and reduce – and even stop – the frequent waking for the bathroom.
Exercise matters too
With most health issues, the right approach is multi-factorial, and this was no different. A lack of muscle mass can make it harder for the body to regulate blood sugars.
The science: To get sugar out of the blood, the body will pack it away in cells ready to be used as energy. If the cells are full, the body will use the two storage places available – the liver and the muscles. Lack of muscle mass means the storage space is reduced, and the sugar will remain in the blood. More muscle mass also means the body utilises more energy at rest so the sugar in cells can be used up too.
Nige was keen to feel stronger, as well as control his blood sugars for the rest of his life but hated the idea of going to the gym. The gym isn’t for everyone, but it certainly isn’t a barrier to getting strong. We discussed the right weights to purchase for use at home and I helped to organise a PT session for Nige so he could begin strength training confidently.
Within 3 months, Nige had:
- Lost 9.5kg
- Reduced his Hba1C from 47 to 41 – no longer pre-diabetic
- Changed his food choices and gained lots of knowledge
Next steps for Nige – keep going and don’t ignore the stress
There are many aspects of modern-day life that cause stress and it can be hugely impactful on the body for many reasons, including:
- Disrupting blood sugar balance
- Increasing inflammation in the body
- Reducing nutrient absorption in the gut
- Contributing to poor sleep and low energy levels
Everyone has their favourite ways of relaxing and managing stress. For Nige, getting out on his mountain bike more often is something he is now working on so he can de-stress.
In a few months’ time, he’ll be back at the GP for another test to see if he’s reduced his HbA1c (diabetes risk) even further. I’m confident with these changes, Nige will be in for another positive surprise this time!