Practitioners

Transforming Lives with Comprehensive Type 2 Diabetes Care

What you need to know about managing and reversing Type 2 Diabetes

Do you have type 2 diabetes or are you worried that you’re at high risk of developing it?

Do you know the signs and symptoms to look out for and what your blood test results mean?

For most people, diet and lifestyle have played a key role in developing the condition and they’re the tools that can reverse it too. This means that you’re in control and you don’t have to take medication for life!

Different types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the cells in the pancreas, that create insulin (islet cells), have been damaged or destroyed. Insulin is required by the body to manage blood sugars. However, with type 1 diabetes, because the body can’t produce enough insulin on its own, daily insulin injections are needed. 

Type 2 diabetes is often called a lifestyle disease due to the role that nutrition and lifestyle can play in its development. Unlike type 1 diabetes, the body can produce insulin but it may not make enough or insulin may not be able to perform its essential role. This is due to elevated sugar in the blood creating a constant demand for insulin and the cells become ‘insulin resistant’. When cells become resistant and stop listening to insulin signals, sugar remains in the blood and type 2 diabetes can develop.

Around 90% of people who develop diabetes will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Importantly, people with type 2 diabetes who do not manage their blood sugars can go on to need insulin injections, like type 1 diabetes, because they damage the islet cells in the pancreas and stop producing their own. This is a very concerning state for someone with type 2 diabetes. 

Gestational diabetes can occur during pregnancy, most commonly in the second or third trimester. It is usually a temporary condition but you will need to pay close attention to blood sugar levels for a healthy pregnancy as gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia and higher birth weight, which can make delivery more challenging. Developing gestational diabetes can put you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Check out Tommy’s website for more insight on whether you’re at risk.

How does Type 2 Diabetes develop?

Did you know? … diabetes develops when there is too much sugar in your blood.

Whenever you eat or drink, the body breaks it down into glucose (sugar) to be used by the body for fuel.

As glucose enters the bloodstream, the islet cells in the pancreas release a hormone called insulin, which helps the body to move sugar out of the blood and into the cells for energy or into storage in the liver or muscles for later (glycogen).

Insulin works like a key to a lock, opening the cells and enabling glucose (sugar) to go inside to be used as energy.

Insulin diagram_ owned by Integral Wellness

When blood sugar levels in the bloodstream decrease, insulin levels follow suit.

But if the cells in the body can’t use insulin properly, it can result in a condition called insulin resistance. This means that the cells need more and more insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream. 

If this pattern continues, the cells stop responding to the release of insulin and become resistant to it. This results in high levels of glucose in the blood and rising blood sugar levels. 

Excess sugar is stored in fat cells, mainly around the mid-waist and stomach area,
because there’s nowhere else for it to go.

Rather than insulin resistance, we want to have the opposite – insulin sensitivity. This is when the cells are very effective at taking up sugar from the blood.

Signs of insulin resistance can include:

  • Struggling to lose weight, especially around the abdomen
  • High blood sugar levels and high triglycerides on blood tests – often accompanied by high LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ kind) and low HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ kind)
  • Brain fog
  • Low energy, especially after meals 
  • Needing frequent meals/snacks and feeling hangry

Insulin resistance doesn’t happen overnight but it often has no obvious signs. You may have no idea you have it until you’re on the verge of type 2 diabetes.

This was the case for Suzette, who never dreamt that she was anywhere close to being prediabetic. In clinic, we suspected that her symptoms were pointing to prediabetes and blood tests confirmed it. 

Suzette’s priorities immediately shifted to reversing this diagnosis – which she was able to achieve less than a year later after making simple changes to her nutrition and lifestyle and taking the right supplements.

If you’re worried that insulin resistance is already a problem for you, it’s not too late to reverse this.

Meet Suzette who reversed her prediabetes diagnosis.

What is the difference between Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes?

Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. To begin with, the body will often try to deal with insulin resistance by pumping out more insulin. But over time, the pancreas will struggle to keep up and blood sugar levels will continue to rise. 

If you become insulin resistant or even prediabetic, it can be reversed. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re destined to develop type 2 diabetes – especially if you take steps to manage your blood sugar.

Signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Excessive thirst
  • Low energy and brain fog
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent bouts of thrush
  • Dark skin around the neck
  • Skin tags
  • Pain and tingles in hands, legs and feet

Risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Over 13.6 m have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and Diabetes UK predicts that 5.5m people in the UK will have type 2 diabetes by 2030.

The average age of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis is getting younger! It was previously a condition more likely to develop in later life but it’s increasingly affecting those under 40. Why? Sadly, because of the impact of poor nutrition and lifestyle choices including more convenience foods and less activity/movement.

The risk factors are lifestyle-based, although several other factors can play a role too:

  • If you’ve had a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes there is a 2-6x increased risk
  • If you are from South Asian, Black African or African Caribbean decent
  • Your mother had gestational diabetes while pregnant with you
  • You had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy
  • If you have a higher body weight
  • If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)  due to insulin resistance


If you’re at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it’s even more important to take control of your health.

It’s not inevitable that you’ll become type 2 diabetic – as long as you’re supporting your metabolic health.

How does Type 2 Diabetes develop?

Did you know? … diabetes develops when there is too much sugar in your blood.

Everything you eat or drink can impact blood sugar levels – for better or for worse. Knowing what you can or can’t eat to manage type 2 diabetes can be a minefield but getting it right can make a huge difference in avoiding and reversing a diagnosis. 

High sugar and ultra-processed foods may give you an energy boost but this isn’t a good thing long-term. They flood the bloodstream with sugar, resulting in instant energy, due to a spike in blood sugar, followed by a crash. This is the ‘sugar rollercoaster’ that we want to avoid at all costs!

healthy plates of food on a table

Certain types of carbohydrates can also be a problem. Carbohydrates are sugar molecules holding hands so the type, what they are eaten with and your lifestyle makes a big difference to how the body manages them. Every time you eat, you’re stimulating insulin production. Eventually, the cells stop listening to the requests to allow glucose in and you’re on the slippery slope to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. 

Other foods – like fats and proteins -can help to slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Understanding the make-up of your meals and overall diet is key to avoiding and reversing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

“ Natalie is very knowledgeable, patient and caring and actually talks to you through the programme! With her help I've changed what I eat, lost 9.5kg in the first 10-12 weeks, and reduced my hba1c from 47 to 41 within 4 months, so no longer pre-diabetic.

Yes, it's much easier to ignore the problem, keep eating rubbish, and much cheaper to not bother but faced with developing type 2 diabetes and coupled with the potential problems that could bring, for me it was definitely the right decision. ” - Nige

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can affect blood sugar levels and also impact the liver which plays a crucial role in balancing the uptake and storage of sugar (glucose).

Drinking above the recommended units can make it harder to manage your blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes and the additional impact of cardiovascular health needs to be considered. Check out your weekly consumption with Drink Aware’s calculator.

Physical activity

Being physically inactive is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. The NHS recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week for adults spread across the week.

Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, which helps to manage blood sugar levels. Even something as simple – and often underrated – as walking can cut the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 40%

Our client, Suzette, used walking as a key tool in reversing her prediabetes and losing an incredible 14lbs – which just goes to show how powerful it can be!

“With Natalie’s help and encouragement, we both worked hard towards getting my diabetes and cholesterol markers down. I changed my diet and outlook on food, introduced walking every day and started to drink more water. 

Today, less than 9 months from the results, I’m no longer pre-diabetic and have lost just under a stone in weight. I feel fantastic!” – Suzette

Strength training can also reduce risk factors by up to 30% and we’re big fans of helping you find the exercise you enjoy that also helps your body respond better to insulin too. 


Fitting movement into your day can be a challenge but there are lots of simple ways to squeeze in a bit more activity and keep blood sugar levels stable.

Sleep

Did you know? …Poor sleep can impact blood sugar control by as much as 30%.

If you’ve had a type 2 diabetes diagnosis or have gestational or prediabetes, sleep is even more important. Getting too little sleep, or poor quality sleep, can increase insulin resistance and result in poor food choices and an increase in calorie consumption

Higher weight and type 2 diabetes can also lead to sleep apnoea which reduces sleep quality – a vicious cycle that needs breaking!

Need help to get a better night’s sleep? Try our 8 top tips for a good kip.

Body weight

Having a higher body weightcan be a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if you have excess weight around the abdomen. 

Additional weight can make you 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.Abdominal fat increases the production of inflammatory chemicals that reduce insulin sensitivity and makes it harder for cells to respond to insulin. 

Losing weight can delay the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

But you don’t need to have a higher weight to become insulin resistant or develop
type 2 diabetes.

Gut health and the microbiome

Did you know … The microbiome in your gut can impact your blood sugar control and be a risk for type 2 diabetes and weight gain? The gut is the root system of the body that can’t be ignored and it’s important with diabetes too.

Metabolic health and mental wellbeing

If you develop type 2 diabetes, you’re 2-3 times more likely to experience depression.

Research suggests that depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions can be linked to metabolic health. Mental health conditions and insulin resistance often go hand in hand. As many as 40% of patients with mood disorders are also insulin resistant.

Working on key areas of your wellbeing can reduce your risk factor for type 2 diabetes or reverse the diagnosis if you already have it.

If you’re ready to take control of your metabolic health, our team is here to help you uncover imbalances and support you on the road to success.

When should you be worried about Type 2 Diabetes?

If you’re concerned about your blood sugar, your GP can do an HbA1c blood test. Ideally, we want this to be under 42 or 6% but an HbA1c over 38 mmol/L can be a sign of insulin resistance. You can take a look at our Diabetes FAQs blog post for more info on the ranges. 

Pre-diabetes occurs when your blood sugar levels are elevated but aren’t high enough for you to be classed as type 2 diabetic. You’ll usually have started to become insulin-resistant by this point, whether you’re aware of this or not. 

This was the case for our client, Nige, who was stunned to learn that his blood sugar had moved into the pre-diabetes territory and was climbing towards type 2 diabetes.

“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).” – Nige

Insulin resistance can lead to high blood pressure, higher triglyceride levels, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It is also linked to metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions that can increase the risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Can Type 2 Diabetes be reversed?

Absolutely and many of our clients have successfully reversed a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Research has consistently shown that lifestyle interventions such as diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50% – Diabetes UK

Our client, Suzette, reversed a pre-diabetes diagnosis by making simple, sustainable nutrition and lifestyle changes that reduced inflammation and stabilised her blood sugar levels.

“With Natalie’s help and encouragement, we both worked hard towards getting my diabetes and cholesterol markers down. I changed my diet and outlook on food, introduced walking every day and started to drink more water. 

Today, less than 9 months from the results, I’m no longer pre-diabetic and have lost just under a stone in weight. I feel fantastic!” – Suzette

After working on his food choices, restoring his sleep patterns and increasing his movement, our client Nige moved out of the prediabetes range after just three months. He was just one number away from diabetes when we first started to support him! You can read his success story here

If you’ve been told you’re prediabetic or you’re concerned that your blood sugar levels are going in the wrong direction, diet and lifestyle changes can avoid the need for medications. 

With the right knowledge and support, you can bring down your HbA1c numbers and keep them at a healthy level, even if you’re currently on medication.

Book a call with a nutritional therapist to start taking control of your blood sugars and overall metabolic health.

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