Ageing Well – Diabetes

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Three quarters of over 75s have diabetes but it’s not an inevitable part of growing old.

It is estimated that some 4 million people in the UK have Diabetes, a figure that is set to rise to 5 million by 2025. Of those living with the condition, 90% have Type 2, which is the most common form of the disease to develop in older adults, up to a million people are thought to have the condition without knowing it.

Diabetes is a disorder that disrupts the way your body uses sugars from the food it digests. In Type 1 diabetes, which typically begins in people under the age of 30, no insulin is produced. The far more common Type 2 diabetes involves sufficient insulin—but an acquired resistance to it—so glucose is not processed properly by the body.

Both types of diabetes lead to blood sugar levels that are too high, which can lead to serious problems. The proportion of people who have diabetes also increases with age. According to Public Health England reports, in 2016, 9% of people aged 45 to 54 had diabetes, but for over 75s it was 23.8% and rising.

Amongst the elderly population it is Type 2 diabetes that continues to be growing problem. Diabetes at older ages has even larger health ramifications as people are more likely to suffer from other conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage; as well as kidney failure, and worsening vision.

While Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days. Many people have Type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be fairly mild. They can include:

(*please seek medical advice if experiencing any symptoms)

Diabetes can be an extremely serious disease for those that have it and treating it and its complications costs the NHS almost £10 billion a year, however, developing Type 2 diabetes, is not an inevitable part of ageing.

You can take steps to delay or prevent Type 2 Diabetes, and subsequent declining health. Adopting healthier habits like regular exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet, can keep blood glucose levels in a normal range.

In addition to a nutrient-rich diet, for those experiencing insulin deficiencies or have acquired a resistance to it in later life, it may also be worth taking a Chromium supplement each day.

In its natural state, Chromium is a trace mineral found in abundance in liver, yeast, grains, chicken and brewer’s yeast. It works with insulin to metabolise sugar, helping to maintain and regulate normal blood glucose levels. The use of chromium supplements can therefore help to control type 2 diabetes or the glucose and insulin responses in older people who are more at risk of developing the disease.

In addition, Chromium can help reduce cholesterol by reducing low density lipo-protein (LDL) and increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL).