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Health and Nutrition

M&S Health & Nutrition



What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly.

The hormone insulin (produced by the pancreas) is required to move glucose from the blood into the cells where it will be used for energy. . Blood glucose levels rise when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, not enough insulin or the insulin doesn't work properly. This can result in the following symptoms - a need to go to the toilet often, increased thirst, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, slow healing of cuts and wounds and blurred vision.

It is estimated up to half a million people have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes - so it's important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

The Two Main Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

  • usually occurs in people before the age of 40 and is often diagnosed in childhood
  • most likely to be an autoimmune condition where the body´s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas
  • treated with insulin by injection or pump, a healthy diet and regular physical activity

Type 2 Diabetes

  • the body can still make some insulin but it may not be enough, or the insulin that is produced may not work properly (known as insulin resistance)
  • usually develops in people over 40, although it may be seen from the age of 25 in South Asian , African and Caribbean societies. It is also becoming more common in UK children and teenagers.
  • treated with a healthy diet, increased physical activity - in addition, medication and/or insulin is often required.

2.6 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, of those around 90% have Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes UK). The contribution of obesity to increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern in the UK and also worldwide. Diabetes affects 246 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 380 million by 2025.

It's important to diagnose, manage and treat diabetes as soon as possible to reduce the risk of long term health complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage. Make sure you have regular check-ups with your GP or diabetes team.

Lifestyle Advice

By making small changes to your lifestyle, you may be able to help manage blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat levels:

  • maintain a healthy weight (BMI of 18.5-24.9)
  • take part in regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day on at least 5 days a week
  • eat three meals a day
  • include starchy carbohydrate foods at each meal
  • try to choose starchy carbohydrate foods that are more slowly absorbed (have a lower glycaemic index) - for example pasta, basmati or easy cook rice, grainy breads, new potatoes, sweet potato and yam, porridge oats and natural muesli.
  • cut down on the fat you eat, particularly saturated fat
  • eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • include more beans and lentils since these have less of an effect on blood glucose levels and may help to control your blood fats.
  • aim for at least two portions of oily fish a week
  • limit sugar and sugary foods - this does not mean you have to follow a sugar free diet
  • reduce salt in your diet to 6g or less a day
  • drink alcohol in moderation only - that's a maximum of 2 units a day for a woman or 3 units a day for a man
  • avoid foods or drinks labelled as 'suitable for diabetics' - they offer no benefit to people with diabetes

How we can help...

Our food packaging carries various labels to help you make healthier food choices:

  • Our Eat Well sunflower logo highlights the healthier option. These foods are developed to strict nutritional guidelines for calories, fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar
  • Front of pack colour coding Choosing more products labelled green and amber throughout the week can help you choose foods for a healthier diet.
  • Our count on us...TM range has been specially developed for customers following a reduced calorie weight loss diet. It is low in fat and calorie and portion controlled. To help reduce calorie content we use sweeteners in our count on us...TM desserts and diet soft drinks.
  • we also offer reduced fat and sugar, no added sugar and low fat alternatives to many products which can help you to make healthier choices

For more information on diabetes visit Diabetes UK