10th November 2021

Saira Khan: Type 2 Diabetes Is In My Family

An article written by Saira Khan for The Fast 800

Type 2 diabetes is in my family – this is why and how I’m taking action

Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family, my brother has it and my father had a heart attack and died at the age of 60 as a result of it. I know that this terrible disease is lifestyle linked, from eating the wrong types of food, neglecting your physical health which in turn negatively affects your mental health and leads to depression, lack of confidence and self-esteem and a vicious circle of emotional eating and worsening the condition. 

When I first chatted to Dr Michael Mosley earlier this year, I found out that he too had not only been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but he also had a family history of the disease. I was sad to learn that Dr Mosley’s father died from complications of the disease at the age of 72.

With this information, and knowledge of my own family’s history on my mind, I was keen to ensure that I did everything I could to help prevent developing type 2 diabetes and I was also keen to emulate Dr Mosley’s approach, using a healthy diet and regular exercise. 

Like Dr Mosley I am a TOFI

Like Dr Mosley, I was one of the so-called ‘TOFI: Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside’. I was storing fat in and around my internal organs where it is most damaging. The main problem in type 2 diabetes is that there is an excess amount of fat infiltrating the liver and the pancreas, which makes them less efficient. 

So, whilst I’ve never been obese, I certainly needed to lose some of the visceral fat around my mid-waist which would almost certainly have been impacting my organs and increasing my chances of developing mid-life complications like type 2 diabetes. 

How do you know if YOU are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

The Fast 800 team shared a quick and easy trick with me that allows you to assess your overall health. We know the waist to height ratio is a useful indicator of health – ideally your waist circumference should be, at most, half of your height. You don’t need a tape measure – you can use a piece of string. Grab a piece of string that is as long as you are tall, fold it in half and see if it fits around your waist. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. We come in all shapes and sizes, but an increased waist circumference can indicate a higher risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, so reducing your waist circumference to half your height will likely improve your long-term health and boost your immunity.

So, if you are overweight, and suspect you might be at risk of type 2 diabetes, what should you look for?  The most common signs of type 2 diabetes are:

  • feeling thirsty;
  • urinating more frequently than normal, particularly during the night;
  • feeling very tired;
  • loss of muscle bulk;
  • cuts or wounds that heal very slowly; and,
  • blurred vision.

Don’t just take my word for it, there is a lot of evidence now that shows if you change what you eat and lose weight, particularly around the gut, you can reduce your reliance on medication and restore your blood sugars to normal. 

My conversation with Dr Michael Mosley

Michael explained to me why eating a calorie restricted diet is so effective at preventing and reversing diabetes.

“800 is the magic number”, says Michael, “Every big weight loss study is now based on 800 calories, which is high enough to be sustainable and give you everything you need, and low enough to lead to rapid weight loss and other beneficial health changes.”

Michael went on to explain, “Nine in ten diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes, which is driven by obesity and almost one million more people are undiagnosed, bringing the total number up to 4.7 million, a figure which is set to reach 5.5 million by 2030. A further 12.3 million people in the UK are currently at risk of developing the condition. The trend follows soaring rates of obesity. Britain is the fattest nation in Western Europe, with rates of obesity rising even faster than those in the United States.”

The science

Last year, Dr Clare Bailey, Michael’s wife, told me about a study that she was part of at Oxford University which demonstrated the benefits of the Mediterranean-style diet for people who were overweight and for those who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The study was called The Diamond Study, and according to Clare the results showed that the average weight-loss, after eight weeks of following a low calorie Mediterranean-style diet, was 9.5kg.  

This significant weight loss was sustained over the course of the trial, and the participants saw a significant drop in their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and the use of medication.  Participants and healthcare professionals involved in the trial reported growing engagement, confidence and motivation after seeing the initial rapid results. Participants reported positive impacts on their emotional and psychological well‐being and influence within their social circle.

For me, embarking on a new lifestyle using The Fast 800 as my guide, has allowed me to not only lose weight around my belly area, but improve my overall health and fitness to ensure my body is working at optimal levels. The science speaks for itself and there is no better time to take control of your own health. I feel like I’m much better prepared to navigate mid-life knowing that I’m doing all I can to prevent age-related diseases like type 2 diabetes.

– Saira Khan, 2021 

Are you looking for support?

If you, like Saira, are looking to embark upon a healthier lifestyle, The Fast 800 12 week course is a fantastic place to start. Whether you have a little weight to lose or a significant amount, we have different approaches for those with different goals from rapid weight loss to a more flexible and long-term way of life. The Online Programme provides nutritionist developed meal plans, educational content, progressive exercise plans for all levels, mindfulness resources and a social media-style community platform to interact with other members of The Fast 800. Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of people manage their blood sugar levels and we now offer a 7-day free trial, click here to sign up today. 

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