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Can You Avoid Type II Diabetes?

Recently, an awesome colleague and I collaborated on a news piece talking about the three-way link between your health, your sleep and type II diabetes – and frankly, they all go hand in hand.  Dr Nick Mabbott is Australia’s most highly respected and sought after Fatigue Risk Management Consultant, and together we bring you this little piece of light reading to help you understand the three pillars of keeping your type II diabetes risk as low as possible …

Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. A lack of quality sleep night after night, can place an enormous strain on your overall health. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant, such as a car crash, or it can harm you over time and raise your risk for some chronic health disorders, including type II diabetes. In our busy society, many of us are not getting the quality seven to eight hours of sleep that our bodies need to perform at our best. An analysis of 10 research projects, including over 107,000 people, found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was highly linked to length of sleep, initiating sleep and maintaining sleep. Dr Eve Van Cauter and her team at the University of Chicago have conducted numerous experiments on sleep & type II diabetes. In 2004, they utilised (mean age) 22-year old subjects and for six nights only, allowed them to obtain four hours of sleep. The subjects all started the experiment with no type II diabetes symptoms and blood glucose baseline measures were normal. After six nights of four hours of sleep, all the subjects had blood glucose levels in the pre-diabetic range. Findings indicated that the chronic sleep loss was associated with: decreased glucose tolerance (inability for the cells to take up glucose); decreased leptin levels (hormone that sends message to brain to stop eating); increased Ghrelin levels (increases appetite); increases in evening cortisol levels (normally decreasing at this time of day), and adverse cardiovascular effects.

It took seven nights of catch up sleep (averaging 9.3 hours each night) to pay back the sleep debt and stabilise back to normal glucose tolerance levels. For years we have discussed controlling or avoiding type II diabetes using two tools – namely, diet and exercise. We now realise that there are three tools to combat type II diabetes. If you are in the pre-diabetes range or have already been diagnosed with type II diabetes, check your sleep to see if you can make improvements. For a healthy adult, you require between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. If your sleep is too short, affected by constant awakenings or if you have a sleep disorder, please see a sleep professional to get better sleep. Now let’s discuss the other two pillars of health that can assist with type II diabetes risk.

It is well known that maintaining a moderate waist circumference and engaging in physical activity are key elements in the prevention and management of type II diabetes. However, many with this chronic disease do not become, or remain physically active, or reduce their waist measurement because they simply don’t know how to make these changes effectively. Participation in 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week improves blood glucose control and positively impacts blood lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular health and mental health – and it doesn’t mean we all need to turn into a gym junkie or fitness expert to make it happen.

Start by walking, going for a swim, playing at the park with your kids, putting some music on at home and having a dance and then work your way up to some youtube videos, instructing some simple moves with dumbbells or resistance bands that can be done at home. It doesn’t need to be complicated – any activity is better than none. If you do wish to progress to engaging a coach or trainer, please choose carefully and find someone who understands you and your goals, and knows how to get you there safely. When it comes to reducing your waistline a little, that can be pretty simple too. Cut down on your saturated fat intake (think: butter, margarine, pastries, and the white fat on the side/running through your steak), minimise your sugar intake and reduce the amount of alcohol to 1-2 standard drinks two days per week. The aim for men is to have a waist measurement under 100cm and for ladies we aim for under 90cm. Just making these simple changes in your daily routine can not only reduce the impact of type II diabetes, but it will also leave you feeling healthier and more energetic.

For more information on sleep and fatigue risk management, please contact my good friend Dr Nick Mabbott via his website.

(and just for the record – this content isn’t sponsored in any way, shape or form.  Dr Nick and I just share a passion for good health!)