Towards Living A Healthy Lifestyle
Quick Facts about Diabetes Mellitus,, Obesity, Nutrition and Alcohol

Quick Facts about Diabetes, Obesity, Nutrition and Alcohol


There are several types of diabetes mellitus:

Type 1: is the insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) because of an insulin deficiency. (the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed). It requires insulin treatments.

Type 2: is the non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It is a disease of nutrient storage and insulin resistance, strongly linked with overweight/obesity. The development of NIDDM (Type 2) can be prevented and early stages are reversible with weight loss, physical activity, and a different food regime (change of diet and eating times).

Type 2 diabetes develops slowly over a period of years. Some people may not notice any symptoms at all.

People most at risk of type 2:

  • White people aged over 40 years and people from African-Caribbean, Asian and minority ethnic groups aged over25 with a family history of diabetes OR who are overweight OR have high blood pressure OR have a heart disease OR have had a heart attack.
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who are overweight
  • Women who have had high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

Some of the symptoms of diabetes:

  • Increased thirst
  • Going to the loo all the time especially at night
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • Blurred vision

Recommendations to avoid or treat diabetes:

  1. Do NOT reduce your carbohydrate intake under 50 – 55% of your daily food intake.
  2. Do NOT follow the advice of low carb/high protein preachers.
  3. Protein intake should be at about 0.8g/kg body weight per day.
  4. Do NOT start a self-supplementation programme without consulting a medical practitioner with knowledge in biochemistry, orthomolcular medicine or nutritional science. Also: problems of toxicity have recently been observed with several commercially available herbal preparations.
  5. Artificial sweeteners (e.g. in diet drinks) have NO special advantages for diabetics. Side effects/health risks concerning artificial sweeteners must be considered.
  6. Special ‘diabetic foods’ are expensive and have NO health benefits over normal foods.
  7. The pattern of meals should provide food every 2-3 hours.
  8. GI (glycaemic index) or GL (glycaemic load) diets should be just guidelines but NOT ‘bibles’. See a professional practitioner for a personal tailored food/time regime.


There are three main contributors to obesity:

  1. Human genetics play a large part in determining body weight.
  2. Reduction in physical activities and the availability of inexpensive, calorically dense food.
  3. The balance/imbalance of the gut bacteria.

The first two have been discussed over and over again, but the balance of the gut flora is a more or less new aspect.

For the vast majority of humans – including obese individuals – caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure by less than 1%. The body’s ability to balance intake and expenditure is the result of the brain’s ability to monitor the amount of fat in the body through changes in the level of circulating hormones.

Two groups of beneficial bacteria are dominant in the human gut: the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes. In a research with obese patients, Ley et al (published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science”) found out, that the proportion of Bacteroidetes is decreased in obese people and that the obese gut has uncharacterised properties that tip the balance toward the Firmicutes.

This finding shows, that obesity has a microbial component. This result has potential therapeutic implications and will change our views of what causes obesity and how we depend on the bacteria that inhabit our gut.
The treatment of obesity might depend on tests to analyse the patient’s gut flora.

The microbiota of obese people extracts more calories from food. Result: The efficiency of caloric extraction from food may be determined by the composition of the microbiota, which may contribute to differential body weight.

More research will be necessary to address the ecological and evolutionary perspective on human-microbe mutualism and disease.

One conclusion can be already drawn from the latest finding: Probiotics might be very important once a bacterial imbalance is properly diagnosed, but… they probably have no place in prevention of bacterial imbalances.

Obesity reduces the sensitivity of tissues to the action of insulin, and thus increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It is also associated with increased risks for some cancers, osteoarthritis, gallstones and reproductive disorders. Obese people are relatively disadvantaged psychologically, socially, and economically.

Before advice is given to an obese patient, essential background factors should be considered, and also the appropriate weight loss should be agreed with the individual patient. Fashionable diets, sometimes recommended by “expert”-journalists or even celebrity chefs are in most cases doomed to fail in the long run.

Self Test:
The QUETELET’s INDEX (QI) is calculated by dividing the individual’s weight (in kg) by the square of his or hers height (in m). A person who weighs 65 kg and who is 1.73 m tall would have a QI of 65 ./. (1.73 x 1.73) = 21.7.

The following chart published by the WHO in 1998 is a good guideline:



Normal range




Obese class I


Obese class II


Obese class III

> 40

The QI does not take the distribution of body fat into account! So… additionally you have to take the waist/hp ratio into account. The risk of complications increase with a waist circumference of > 94 cm in men and >80 cm in women.



Alcohol is an anti-nutrient. It is well proven to deplete almost every vitamin (A, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, B2, C, D and E), minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium), amino acids, essential fat (omega 3 and omega 6) and also disturbs the blood sugar control.

Long term effects of alcohol:

  • NERVOUS SYSTEM: tingling and loss of sensation in hands and feet
  • BRAIN: brain injury (brain cells die), loss of memory, confusion, hallucinations. Five areas of mental ability are consistently compromised by chronic alcohol abuse: memory formation, abstract thinking, problem solving, attention & concentration and perception of emotion. As many as 70% of people who seek treatment for alcohol related problems suffer significant impairment of these abilities.
  • HEART: high blood pressure, enlarged heart, irregular pulse.
  • BLOOD: changes in red blood cells.
  • LUNGS: greater chance of infections, incl. tuberculosis.
  • MUSCLES: weakness, loss of muscle tissue.
  • SKIN: flushing, sweating, bruising.
  • LIVER: severe swelling and pain, hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer.
  • PANCREAS: inflammation.
  • STOMACH: inflamed lining, bleeding, ulcers.
  • INTESTINES: inflamed lining, ulcers
  • SEXUAL ORGANS: male = impotence, shrinking testicles, damaged/less sperm; female = greater risk of gynecological problems, damage of fetus if pregnant.

The amount of alcohol and what happens:

  • 1.5 pint of beer OR 3 whiskies OR 1/2 bottle of wine: increasing cheerfulness, impaired judgement, loosening of inhibitions.
  • 5 pints of beer OR 10 whiskies, or 1.5 bottle of wine: loss of self-control, exuberance, slurred speech, quarrelsomeness.
  • 0.75 bottle of spirits: sleepiness, oblivion, coma
  • 1 bottle of spirits: death possible