The number of people with Type II Diabetes in the UK is increasing. Estimates suggest that numbers have doubled in the last 20 years. That’s a worrying statistic and shows just how important it is that you are in a strong position to support your clients presenting with this disease. So, what can you as a functional medicine practitioner do to transform the experience of Type II Diabetes for your clients? Read on to discover how guest expert and FDX Practitioner Christine Bailey approaches this condition and how dietary approaches to Diabetes work.
What is Type II Diabetes and what does it mean for my clients?
In order to understand how to transform the experience of Type II Diabetes (T2D) through diet, we need to start with what it is and how it can affect your clients’ life. While it can occur at any age, Type II Diabetes is the the most common long-term metabolic condition in older people. Half of all people with Diabetes in the United Kingdom are aged over 65 years and a quarter are over 75. This means 10% of people aged over 75 years and 14% of those aged over 85 years have Diabetes. Compared to people without the condition, people with Type II Diabetes are nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a heart attack and 2 times more likely to have a stroke.
Where does diet come in to management of Type II Diabetes?
The main driver for Type II Diabetes is obesity. While other factors do play a role, by addressing weight gain as early as possible it is possible to put clients into remission. As cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for those with T2D and as weight gain and obesity are key drivers for T2D, any dietary approach should focus on supporting both, i.e meal plans need to be cardio protective.
Thanks to research, particularly through the DIRECT Clinical Trials, and published studies we have a greater understanding of the important role dietary and lifestyle interventions play in supporting your clients with Diabetes long term. There are a number of dietary approaches shown to be effective, although long term studies looking at certain dietary approaches – such as low carbohydrates diets – are lacking1.
1 Lower Carbohydrate Diets for Diabetes (2021). SACN
Are there additional ways to boost dietary approaches to Type II Diabetes?
In short, yes, and one of these is to boost gut health. Recent research on the role of the gut microbiome, and the influence of short chain fatty acids, highlights the importance of taking a whole body system approach and personalising intervention for clients. The short chain fatty acid propionate, for example, appears to influence the hormones GLP1 and PYY which are involved in satiety and gut motility. Short chain fatty acids are also important end products for metabolic health, influencing markers linked to glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity.
Many of your Type II clients may also be low in key vitamins and minerals. Various research studies have noted that key minerals such as magnesium are commonly insufficient. Medications such as metformin can also increase the need for certain vitamins such as B12 and folate.
As oxidative stress has been implicated in the progression of long-term Diabetes complications, including microvascular and macrovascular dysfunction, careful monitoring of inflammatory markers, vitamins and minerals can help personalise intervention.
It is important that you are well supported to help give practical advice to your clients with Type II Diabetes and in this blog post you have been shown how this condition impacts your clients and the dietary approaches you can get started with today. It goes (almost) without saying that in-depth client history and assessment is of course essential in transforming their experience of Type II Diabetes. Your interventions can be more effectively supported through functional blood testing and health reporting - enabling you to personalise and prioritise approaches. FunctionalDX is here to help you to put all the pieces of your clients’ health puzzle together; so that they have the full picture. If you’re not already an FDX Practitioner, you can join the cohort right now.
Christine Bailey is an experienced nutritionist, lecturer and author of over 16 health and recipe books.
With a keen interest in female hormones as well as running a number of successful hormone programmes with clients and practitioners, Christine has a wealth of experience in supporting clients’ with their hormone health.