Type 2 diabetes: Simple sugars could contribute to feelings of fatigue – what are they?

This Morning: Type 2 diabetes can be ‘devastating’ says expert

When you have type 2 diabetes, managing blood sugar levels can feel like walking on a tightrope. Too far to the left and you end up with hypoglycaemia; too far to the right and you have hyperglycaemia. Then there’s your diet to consider, which can sway you either way.

The Global Diabetes Community noted simple sugars are found in fruit, vegetables and milk that “raise blood glucose levels quickly”.

Also known as simple carbohydrates, spikes in blood sugar levels causes the body to release insulin “to pull glucose out of your bloodstream”, said LiveStrong.

This can lead to feelings of drowsiness in anybody (colloquially known as a “crash”), but can cause more issues in somebody with diabetes.

Medical News Today explained the pancreas in diabetics can’t produce enough insulin, or the body doesn’t use insulin effectively.

Thus when simple sugars are eaten, and blood sugar levels rise, cells aren’t able to absorb glucose from the blood, so fatigue results and then damage to the body can begin.

Signs of high blood sugar levels emerge as the body tries its hardest to remove excessive sugar from the bloodstream.

This includes: frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger despite eating, unexplained weight loss, and blurred vision.

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When blood sugar levels remain too high for too long, possible complications include kidney failure, heart disease and nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy.

What does this mean for eating simple sugars? Surely the consumption of fruits and vegetables are needed to lead a healthier life?

These foods aren’t to be avoided; they contain nutrients and may be sources of dietary fibre.

The charity Diabetes UK stated: “Whole fruit is good for everyone and if you have diabetes, it’s no different. You shouldn’t avoid them because they’re sugary.”

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Diabetes UK added: “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way of eating for everyone with diabetes.”

However, making healthier food choices is actively encouraged, such as having two slices of avocado with a hardboiled egg for breakfast.

Lunch could include a tuna salad sandwich, while dinner could be curry with chickpeas and brown rice.

The NHS advised people with type 2 diabetes to “eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta”.

In addition, “sugar, fat and salt” need to be kept to the minimum, and you’re better off not skipping any meals.

As well as diet, physical exercise is key to help manage blood sugar levels – “aim for 150 minutes of activity a week”, added the NHS.

In order for the physical activity to count as physical exercise, you need to get out of breath.

This could be: fast walking, climbing stairs, strenuous housework, jogging, rollerblading, or cycling.

For anybody carrying a little bit of extra weight, “losing weight will make it easier for your body to lower blood sugar levels”, suggested the national health body.

To figure out if you’re “overweight”, you can work out your body mass index (BMI) here.

There is evidence that eating a low-calorie diet (800 to 1,200 calories a day) for three months (maximum) can help with symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

“Some people have found that their symptoms go into remission,” added the NHS.

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