So yesterday I had my six monthly diabetic appointment with my nurse and diabetic specialist, which went incredibly well! In fact, I was literally in her office for 60 seconds! The conversation was:
Doctor: "Hba1c is perfect, thyroid is perfect, liver function and urine tests are good, what's your secret?"
Me: "I live a healthy lifestyle, eat well, train and partcipate in regular physical activity"
Doctor: "Well whatever it is doing keep it up! Do you have any questions?"
Me: "No not really...."
Doctor: "OK you're free to go, see you in 6 months"
Yes I know what you're thinking....what a waste of a 30 minute wait! But to be honest, my control and lifestyle has never been down to the advice that the clinic has given me over the years.... in fact, I do the complete opposite to what they suggest, yet I manage to maintain stable control and maintain a Hba1c of 41 (5.9) for nearly 2 years..... That does not mean that people should not listen to their doctors of course, I just found that doing my own research was much more useful. In terms of my diabetes control, there are numerous factors that I find incredibly important in order to obtain normal BG readings, including:
- Physical activity(as simple as walking 12,000 steps per day)
- Weight training (improves insulin sensitivity and burns energy throughout the day)
- Healthy eating (avoiding processed, refined foods)
- Consistency with eating (prepping meals for the week so I know exactly what I am eating and therefore I know exactly how much insulin to give)
- Regular BG checks (For me every 2-3 hours)
- Peer support (surrounding yourself with others going through the same challenges)
- Mind set (learning not to let unavoidable high readings effect motivation)
But one of the most important factors for me in terms of my control links in with something that is never really spoken about, nor explained to us as a diabetic population......GUT HEALTH.
OK, so the gut is often referred to as the 'second brain', which plays an incredibly important role regarding an individual's health. I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty of it all, but basically, if your gut is full of bad bacteria, this ultimately effects many other factors, including mood, general health, skin, mental health, immune responses etc. you name it, the gut is most often linked. I will give you an example.....for years I suffered eczema on my wrists, which would not go away no matter how much E45 I applied. Then my health coach (Simon Hall), turned to me and said:
'That is to do with your gut health'.
My response was:
'No it's not, it's my skin! How can it be linked to my gut!?
He then explained that I was eating something that was aggravating my gut lining, causing bad bacteria to flourish, leading to eczema break outs. He then explained how individuals usually do what's called an elimination diet to remove foods that could be aggravating the gut lining, to see how the body responds. Long story short, I cut out dairy and sweetener and what happened?! My eczema went in the space of 2 weeks.....COMPLETELY GONE...
According to Hippocrates ("") 'All disease begins in the gut' and I am starting to agree!
Now, going back to Diabetes.......
So at my last appointment yesterday, the doctors at the clinic told me to carry on doing what I was doing, which yes does link in with a healthy lifestyle. But, I have always had a healthy lifestyle, even when my Hba1c was sky high and I was injecting almost 100 units a day on a low carb diet (insulin resistant). So what's different? My gut health! Almost two years ago, I went on an elimination diet to help with my eczema, but my coach also pointed out this would help with my control. When I started killing off all of my bad bacteria in my gut, my diabetes control began to improve dramatically! In the space of 2 weeks, I was requiring only a third of my original dosage of insulin. My body began to become sensitive to my insulin again, halleluhah!!!! But I couldn't get my head around what was happening? My coach explained that since eliminating the foods that bad bacteria feed off, this causes the bacteria to then die, allowing the good bacteria to flourish, then allowing the body to function more efficiently.
So for a good year I continued to cut out what was causing gut inflammation, in my case dairy and sweeteners. Don't get me wrong, if I wanted a bit of chocolate or a diet coke as a treat I would, but it was long term consumption that caused my inflammation...... What a load of rubbish you might say? Well....... a few months ago, I thought to myself 'I really can't be arsed cutting dairy and sweetener out of my diet anymore, I want to enjoy my endless cups of milky coffee and white chocolate!' So I started to eat it normally again....... and guess what happened:
- My eczema came back
- My insulin needs doubled as I became insulin resistant once again
- I became tired and lethargic
- My bloods would spike from the smallest thing!
So this is proof for me (not everyone!) that my gut health plays a HUGE role in my diabetes management. So, the past couple of months I have eliminated inflammatory foods again, resulting in increased insulin sensitivity, NO ECZEMA, better diabetes control and a general feeling of increased energy and overall health.
Now here is another example of the importance of gut health.... 2 years ago I was told my cholesterol was 10, which is dangerously high. But I couldn't understand it! I was fit as a fiddle, ate VERY healthily, never ate takeaways and I exercised endlessly throughout the week. So the doctors told me to cut down on my fat intake, as at the time I was on a high protein, high (good) fat diet. The other day I went back to the clinic as I mentioned and my cholesterol had come down to 4! Maybe you're thinking that this is because I cut down on my fat intake? Think again...... I went away from the first appointment and me being me refused to follow their advice. In fact my fat intake is much higher now than when my cholesterol was at an all-time high! So what have I don't differently? What have I improved?
MY GUT HEALTH!
Don't get me wrong, I know I am not a doctor and I am sure many people will argue against me, but I am a big believer that the gut plays a huge role in diabetes management and overall health based on my own personal experiences, supported by the fact a lot of research is now going into diabetes and gut health! I believe more emphasis should be placed on gut health and diabetes, especially in the clinical setting. If that was the case, maybe my appointment would have lasted a lot longer than 60 seconds!!
Thanks for reading!