Sex life not what it used to be? Type 2 diabetes could be to blame. New research suggests a staggering 80 per cent of Brits don’t know the potential consequences of the disease, including its effects in the bedroom. Nutritionist Cassandra Barns reports
As the sugar tax comes into force, many of us are considering the effects of consuming too much sugar on our long-term health. One such effect is increasing our risk of Type-2 diabetes, which is now at epidemic proportions, with no signs of slowing down.
a million people in Britain may have Type 2 diabetes and not know it
According to charity Diabetes UK, 3.7 million people in the UK are known to have diabetes; and perhaps most alarmingly, it’s estimated that another one million people may have type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it.
Yet few of us know the devastating effects that Type-2 diabetes can have on our bodies and our lives including blindness, increased risk of heart attack and foot problems.
Sugar and sexual performance
But what only a tiny proportion of us know is that Type-2 diabetes can seriously affect our sex lives.
A survey carried out by CuraLin Diabetic Supplement on 2,022 Brits found a lack of awareness of some of the more serious consequences of type 2 diabetes – including its effects in the bedroom. 80 percent of people questioned did not know that type 2 diabetes could lead to erectile dysfunction.
This happens because high blood sugar causes damage to the nerves and blood vessels, decreasing sensitivity and making it more difficult for a man to get an erection. High blood pressure and heart disease, which often accompany diabetes, can also contribute to the problem.
Type 2 diabetes may affect women’s sexual function too because the damage it causes to blood vessels can affect blood supply to the vagina and clitoris, causing dryness and reduced arousal along with nerve damage. Both can affect sensitivity, meaning reduced pleasure and difficulty reaching orgasm.
Now, if you’re having problems in the bedroom, this doesn’t mean you have diabetes. But if you also have other risk factors, such as being overweight, or regularly indulging in sugary foods, it could be worth seeing a doctor to get a check up.
The CuraLin survey also found that over half the people questioned didn’t know that type 2 diabetes could lead to heart disease (62%), blindness (53%) or loss of limbs (54%) – all potential consequences of long-term uncontrolled blood sugar.
What are we doing about it?
Lack of awareness aside, the research also found that once diagnosed, Type 2 diabetes sufferers aren’t doing enough to manage their disease.
A healthy diet is key to managing your blood sugar
CuraLin’s survey revealed that 25 per cent of sufferers are not exercising for even 30 minutes a day, despite medical and government advice. Plus, although 75 per cent were aware there are natural supplements that could lower blood sugar levels or reverse the condition, only a mere 21 per cent take them.
Can we prevent or reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes?
London GP Dr Wendy Denning, emphasises that there is plenty that those suffering with the condition can do to help themselves. ‘There are ways that people can reverse and manage the disease through exercise, diet, sleep and natural supplements,’ says Dr Denning. ‘These approaches can be used in conjunction with the medication that your doctor prescribes, which can be reduced as blood sugar decreases.’
5 steps to managing your blood sugar
A healthy diet is key to managing your blood sugar, whether you have type 2 diabetes, or simply think you could be eating too much sugar or refined foods. If you are concerned about the risks, here are five steps you can take to get back in control.
Processed foods out, whole foods in
Most processed foods contain refined carbohydrates or added sugars that can quickly spike your blood sugar. Switch away from white breads, pastries and sugary breakfast cereals and move towards whole grains, pulses, vegetables and whole fruit. Aim to prepare meals with fresh ingredients wherever you can.
Swap out the sugary snacks and drinks
Go for whole fruits, nuts or seeds, natural yoghurt with berries, carrot sticks with hummus, or some nut butter or cream cheese on an oatcake. All of these will help to balance blood sugar by breaking down and releasing their sugars slowly into the blood. Fruit juices are counted as ‘sugary drinks’ too and should only be an occasional treat.
Ramp up the vegetables and protein
Aim for low-starch vegetables such as green veg or salad vegetables to make up half your plate at each meal. Their fibre helps to keep you fuller for longer and will balance out your blood sugar. They are also low in calories – bonus. (This doesn’t include potatoes however, as they’re higher in starch.)
A good source of protein with every meal is super-important, too. Protein helps to keep you feeling full and slows down the release of carbohydrates and sugars in the meal. Good sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, natural dairy products such as feta cheese, nuts and seeds – one of these should make up around a quarter of your meal.
Then, the remaining quarter can be a good source of slow-releasing carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potato, wholegrain pasta or oatcakes.
Be a label detective
If you are buying pre-packaged foods, watch out for hidden sugars. They can be in everything from cereals, to breads, to sauces, to ready meals, to tinned foods. And they can be under numerous names: glucose, dextrose, honey, syrups and malt are just some of them. Generally, over five grams per hundred grams (5%) of sugar is considered a high sugar product, so check the levels on the label.
exercise and a good nights sleep is vital to managing blood sugar
Go easy on the booze
Alcohol can play havoc with your blood sugar too. Long-term drinking can encourage both weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which increase your risk of diabetes. And if you’re concerned about sugar sabotaging your sex life, alcohol will only make things worse! Stick to the recommended maximum 14 units a week… or cut it out altogether.
In addition… exercise and a good night’s sleep are vital to managing blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The new supplement to help Type 2 diabetes
Together with diet and lifestyle changes, natural herbs can be helpful when it comes to balancing blood sugar. CuraLin is a supplement specifically developed for those with type 2 diabetes, containing ten herbs traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine – the Indian herbal medicine and healing system.
Each ingredient can play a role in promoting healthy blood sugar levels, and has been chosen based on both Ayurvedic principles and modern research. For example, both gymnema and bitter melon have been found to slow down the absorption of sugar, and help regenerate cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The fenugreek found in Curalin may work by improving insulin production and helping improve glucose uptake (taking sugar out of the blood into the cells). The ingredients are also said to help boost energy levels and reduce cravings for sugars and other carbohydrates.
CuraLin is popular with doctors willing to incorporate natural alternatives when supporting patients with type 2 diabetes. Professor Julio Weinstein of Tel Aviv University says, ‘Over the past year I added CuraLin supplement to the therapy provided in my clinic. Results from my patients show that CuraLin is effective in balancing blood sugar levels and has a fast and significant effect on Type-2 diabetes symptoms.’
If you would like to find out more about CuraLin, check out the CuraLife website.