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"Blessing in disguise" – how young diabetic patients change their lives Society


reDaniel Halliday says diagnosing type 2 diabetes was one of the best things that happened to him. This is because before receiving the diagnosis in October 2017, Halliday was depressed and associated with home. He became agoraphobic after the knifepoint assault in 2014 and was unable to work. On a typical day he would wake up, play video games and eat: fried breakfasts, pizza, pringles and sweets. Oh and Greggs.

"I have always said that Greggs was one of the main contributors to my diabetes," sighs Halliday.

At its heaviest moment, he weighed 136 kg (21 pounds) and had a 42-inch belt.

The diagnosis of diabetes was a shock. Initially, Halliday, a 34-year-old NHS employee from Thornby, Northamptonshire, denied. "I thought," I will eat whatever I want, I don't care. " But restless health fear in March 2018.He gave him the shock he needed. Halliday began to venture outside the house, first at the end of the street and then further. He eliminated fatty, high-carbohydrate and processed foods from his diet – no more cakes and chips. He started playing badminton and football.

The pounds have fallen – now weighing 95 kg (15th place), and his diabetes is in remission. More importantly, Halliday regained his life. "It knocked me out of my bad lifestyle. It was a blessing in disguise. I realized how much life I had wasted, not quite living. "

Halliday was able to control his diabetes through diet and exercise because he has type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which is considered hereditary, should not be confused with type 1 diabetes, which is often associated with obesity and inactivity. Three out of five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented, but the consequences can be serious. People with diabetes may be blind, have a heart attack or stroke, or may need amputation. The life expectancy of a person with type 2 diabetes is reduced by a decade. This is a terrible, terrifying disease – that's why Kelly Perrin, 31-year-old financier from Rushden, Northamptonshire, cried when she was diagnosed in January. "I knew it was serious," he says.

Although it was once thought to be an inevitable degenerative disease, the good news is that a groundbreaking 2017 article by researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Newcastle stated that patients who lost significant weight – about 15 kg – were able to send type 2 diabetes in remission. However, despite the fact that we know how to avoid type 2 diabetes – and how to send it into remission – the numbers are still rising.

Diabetes is a global epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, 422 million people had diabetes in 2014, compared with 108 million in 1980. Ninety percent of people with diabetes have type 2, compared with 8% of people with type 1 and 2% with rarer forms of the disease. In the United Kingdom, 5 million people are predicted to have type 2 diabetes by 2025. The cost to the NHS is colossal: £ 10 billion a year is allocated to diabetes, which is one-tenth of its budget.

And a record number of young people are diagnosed with this disease. According to a study by the University of Leicester and the University of Melbourne, one in eight people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the UK is between 18 and 40 years old. This epidemic of young people who have been diagnosed with diabetes is very worrying because until recently diabetes was considered an illness of an elderly person. "We see children with type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Faye Riley from Diabetes UK. "It's extremely disturbing. A few years ago it didn't exist. "

The reason for the increase in type 2 diabetes is that we are becoming fatter and more and more inactive. Ninety percent of adults with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and obese adults are five times more likely to develop diabetes than those without it.

"People consume too much sugar, salt and saturated fat and do not reach the recommended level of physical activity," says Riley. Environmental factors also play a role: our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and readily available, cheap processed food. "We live in an unhealthy society where people can't always make healthy choices," explains Riley. Perrin tries to resist the transition to the pastry shop. "Sugar is literally everywhere – in chocolates at the supermarket checkout, in pretty, bright colors."

"Nowadays they say you should have a high five a day," says Emma, ​​a 34-year-old parent from Cumbria. At the age of 28, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. "When I was young, there was nothing. We all grew up on cheese on toast, fries and beans, so that's what I fed my children. "

Emma had her first child at the age of 18 – and the money was strained. "We lived for the moment with benefits. You chose the cheapest option, which was usually a bag of fries or cheese on toast. "After diagnosis, Emma found out about nutrition. "I feed my children better now," he says. "But I did damage to me."

Not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight. There is also a genetic element, and BAME communities are more susceptible. 25-year-old Sian Bailey, a teacher from Sheppey Island, Kent, was diagnosed in June. The Bailey dress in size 10 is slim – but she blames her poor diet for her diagnosis. "I ate for convenience, instead of eating healthy food … I would choose the easiest, cheapest food." Bailey ate three take-aways a week, usually McDonald's or Chinese.

She is determined to manage her condition through diet. "I'm only 25 years old. I've already seriously damaged my body. I want to do everything in my power not to stay in the hospital. "

Sending type 2 diabetes for remission using diet alone requires serious discipline. But the alternative – a lifetime on drugs that don't always work – is worse. "Patients can take 10 or even 12 drugs that do not control all symptoms or prevent the progression of the disease," says prof. Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow, co-author of the 2017 study, which showed that type 2 diabetes can be reversed diet. "Pain caused by nerve damage can be terrible. Handles infections, ulcers, amputations, blindness, kidney failure and dementia. Patients often stay in hospital for months. "

To reverse type 2 diagnosis through diet, patients should eat 600 calories a day for six weeks. The so-called Newcastle diet recommends that patients consume three diet cocktails daily to take up to 600 calories in total, and another 200 calories of non-starchy vegetables can supplement their diet. In tests conducted at the University of Newcastle, seven out of 11 people using this diet were free from diabetes within three months.

It is important to remember that they are not cured of diabetes – the disease only goes into remission. If they gain weight, diabetes can come back. "If you can lose enough weight, you can get rid of extra fat that disrupts the liver and affects the functioning of the pancreas," says Lean. "Everything is back to normal. The best way to avoid diabetes complications is to have no diabetes. "

John Thomas, who changed his diet to try to reverse his diabetes at home in Bangor, North Wales.

John Thomas, who changed his diet to try to reverse his diabetes at home in Bangor, North Wales. Photo: Christopher Thomond / The Guardian

University lecturer, 42-year-old John Thomas from Bangor is one success story. After being diagnosed in 2015, Thomas was prescribed metformin in the form of blood sugar and insulin modulating. One day, he heard Dr. Michael Moseley talk about how type 2 diabetes can be reversed on the radio. "I wrote his name in my mind, thinking," I have to check it, "he says. A few weeks later, his wife watched the documentary film "The Truth about Carbs" and collaborated with him. "She said," You have to do something about it. " After a thorough review of academic literature – he is a scientist by education – Thomas began to use low-calorie and low-calorie diets. (Like Thomas, people with type 2 diabetes can experience successful weight loss, severely limiting carbohydrate intake.)

"The most surprising aspect of it all was that I wasn't hungry at all," says Thomas. He continued to eat his usual vegetarian curry, but gave up rice, bread and sweets. The weight has melted. Thomas sends me a graph that tracks blood sugar levels during a diet – the line falls vertically, like a bird falling from the sky. His diabetes is currently in remission. "It's a huge problem," he says.

Not everyone finds it so easy. Very low calorie diets are difficult, especially if you have trouble finding time to cook. Emma wants to lose weight, but it seems impossible. "Often I don't have time to make healthy choices," he says. "I have four children who don't eat the same food, so I run after them and then stay longer, so I just take a sandwich."

He does not follow the low calorie regime and is worried about his long-term health. "When I go to sleep at night, I think," I have to make this change tomorrow. " She hopes to start a low-calorie diet when her youngest daughter begins a nursery. "Then I can focus more on myself. Because one of my worst fears is leg amputation or blindness. "

Perrin tries to stick to a low-calorie diet, but it is difficult for her to learn eating habits. "I eat out of boredom," says Perrin. "It gives you something to do when you watch TV." He abandoned her sugar. "I felt terrible." However, she has lost half a stone so far and hopes that her diabetes will be in remission. "It was hard," he says.

How to encourage people to lose weight? "It's about education," says Riley. "Making sure people understand the risk so they can take preventive steps, such as changing their diet and increasing activity, before it's too late."

Riley welcomes the government's commitment to halving child obesity by 2030, and supports the sugar tax. However, we need public health intervention on a larger scale if we want to stop the diabetes epidemic. Lean calls for reforming the roots and branches of our national eating habits. "We must go back to how our parents and grandparents ate. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables – and meat for special occasions. "

Fat is stigmatized – and people with type 2 diabetes are often unfairly assessed. "To some extent, I have the body I deserve," says Perrin. "I've eaten a lot of crap for years. But this is not just self-mutilation. "Emma doesn't tell most people about her diagnosis because she finds her embarrassing. When he goes out to lunch with friends who know, he worries that they are watching what he eats.

"I think:" Will they judge me for my choices? ". Her mother also criticizes her. "She has all the time in the world to go to the gym," says Emma.

Public health news about type 2 diabetes is difficult – you don't motivate people like Emma to make healthier choices by embarrassing them. But we must fix it because it is an unprecedented state of emergency for public health. Lean hopes to see a kind of radical change in awareness around obesity that we have witnessed in a crisis.

"Diabetes prevention must begin among young people. We have Greta Thunberg who shows that young people can understand different things … We need to bring young people to speed. Diabetes is a deadly serious illness and we must all stop it. "

Thomas evangelizes, showing others with diabetes that this can be reversed by diet. Unfortunately, he is not always successful – his mother and brother at home in Chennai are in pre-diabetes, but they are not listening. "They think it's too hard," says Thomas. "They say," You have the will and determination, but we don't. "

Halliday also conveys a message between his busy schedule (former agoraphobic is currently preparing to present the drama "The Addams Family"). "I want to give people the belief that this can be done," he says, "because I was a hermit living in my own home. If I can do it, anyone can. "

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