A new survey by Bupa has revealed that 68% of people tend to assume that nothing is wrong with them, even if they have what they consider to be 'minor symptoms' of type 2 diabetes.

With over 850,000 people in Britain thought to have undiagnosed diabetes, the private healthcare service is trying to raise awareness so that people take a look at their lifestyles and visit their GP if in doubt that they may be at risk.

HuffPost UK Lifestyle spoke to Dr Tim Woodman, a medical director at Bupa who said: "Most people seem to be are aware of what leads to type 2 diabetes, for example their lifestyle choices, but 54% of people say they ignore the long-term health consequences.


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"They are also mindful of the symptoms, and over a third (35%) of people say they have symptoms linked with Type 2 diabetes. But worryingly we found that over two thirds (68%) of people assume nothing is wrong and will not visit a doctor if they have what they consider to be ‘minor’ symptoms, commonly associated with Type 2 diabetes- which is a must."

Some of the symptoms of diabetes include feeling tired and thirsty, and Dr Woodman highlights that the problem with this is that it comes on gradually, so most people don't notice it comes on at all.

But aside from symptoms, the survey also unearthed the worrying fact that a staggering 89% of Brits make lifestyle choices that greatly increase the chance of diabetes. These included eating a lot of sugary foods and not doing enough exercise.

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  • Asparagus

    Asparagus is anti-inflammatory and provides digestive support, according to "The Longevity Kitchen," a book that explains the life-extending benefits of healthy foods.

  • Avocado

    In addition to helping lower levels of bad cholesterol, avocados destroy cancerous and precancerous cells, according to "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Basil

    This anti-inflammatory herb has been shown to "slow the growth of disease-causing bacteria" and protect liver cells, according to "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Blueberries

    This superfruit is anti-inflammatory and helps improves brain and heart health, wrote Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson in "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Coffee

    Drinking more than <a href="http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/340733/description/Coffee_gives_jolt_to_life_span">two cups a day of coffee</a> may help you live longer by offering protection against respiratory problems and heart disease.

  • Dark Chocolate

    This treat can reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart health. Not surprisingly, studies also show dark chocolate to be a mood enhancer, according to "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Garlic

    Garlic may not be good for your breath, but it does help prevent damage to blood vessels, wrote the authors of "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Green Tea

    According to "The Longevity Kitchen,"green tea has several major health benefits. The antioxidant found in green tea is useful in treating breast, lung and prostate cancer. Green tea also prevents bad cholesterol from forming and can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite.

  • Kale

    "[Kale] goes way off the charts with certain nutrients, providing more than <em>ten times</em> the recommended daily intake of vitamin K, a key regulator of inflammation, and three times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is vital to eye health and maintaining moisture in the skin and mucous membranes," according to "The Longevity Kitchen." Kale can also reduce your cholesterol, and is associated with reduced risk of ovarian, breast and colon cancer.

  • Olive Oil

    Olive oil has several major health benefits: it helps protect the heart, reduces the risk of respiratory, colon, upper GI track and breast cancer, and helps prevent stroke, according to "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Pomegranate

    In addition to being anti-inflammatory, pomegranate is good for your cardiovascular health and helps lower blood pressure, wrote the authors of "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Sweet Potato

    As stated in "The Longevity Kitchen," this tasty tuber helps regulate blood pressure, provides support for your immune system and contains nutrients that help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.

  • Thyme

    This fragrant spice helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and also helps neutralize common pathogens such as E. Coli, according to "The Longevity Kitchen."

  • Walnuts

    "Wanuts offer tremendous heart health benefits," the book's authors write. "They reduce inflammation, bad cholesterol (LDL), and risk of blood clots and can help prevent bone loss."

  • Wild Salmon

    Salmon contins more healthful omega-3 fatty acids than any other fish. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation throughout the body and may reduce the risk of macular degeneration, which causes blindness.

  • Yogurt

    As stated in "The Longevity Kitchen," yogurt helps maintain and restore healthy bacteria in our body and fights against conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and Crohn's disease.

  • 'The Longevity Kitchen'

    "<a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Longevity-Kitchen-Satisfying-Age-Busting/dp/1607742942">The Longevity Kitchen</a>" contains recipes designed to improve the length and quality of your life, as well as tips for living a healthier life.

There are several risk factors, says Dr Woodman.

These are:

  • You are over 40 (or over 25 if you are South Asian)
  • You have a close family member with diabetes (parent, brother or sister)
  • You are overweight, with a large waist size (over 80cm (31.5 inches) for women, 94cm (37 inches) for men, or 89cm (35 inches) for South Asian men)
  • Being South Asian, Black African, African Caribbean – even if you were born in the UK
  • You have ever had high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke
  • You're a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and overweight
  • f you're a woman and you've had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby over 10 pounds

He adds: "Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be hereditary, so if a close member of your family has the conditions you should have regular check ups. While some risk factors such as age, gender and ethnicity can't be changed – making lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your risk.

"We know that up to 80% of cases of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented, and risk can be reduced by up to 60% after making some basic lifestyle changes. If you are overweight, every kilogram you lose could reduce your risk by up to 15%. Be more conscious of your diet and exercise – small changes can make a big difference."

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating frequently, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • itchiness around the vagina or penis, or regular bouts of thrush (a yeast infection)
  • blurred vision that is caused by the lens of your eye becoming very dry
  • cramps
  • constipation
  • skin infections

Source: NHS.UK/Diabetes UK

To assess your level of risk, visit the Bupa and Diabetes UK’s diabetes risk tool and management tool ‘Type 2 and Me’ by clicking here.

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  • Use Sugar-Free Substitutes

    One option, and perhaps the most popular, is to eat or drink the sugar-free versions of your favourite sugary foods and beverages, like soda. When it comes to dessert or a snack, sugar-free Jell-O is a “free” food in a type 2 diabetes diet that can give you a little sweetness. However, warns Dr. Hannon, some <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-recipes/sugar.aspx" target="_hplink">sugar substitutes might interfere with your ability to control blood sugars, so go easy on these products.</a>

  • Make Your Own Red Sauce

    Canned or bottled tomato sauce is a key ingredient in many meals, from pizza to spaghetti, but using store-bought sauce in your dish may add a surprising amount of sugar. The answer is to <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/fresh-tomato-sauce.aspx" target="_blank">make your own simple sauce.</a> “Simmer canned, chopped tomatoes on the stove with herbs you like,” says Hannon. “Even if you add a teaspoon or two of sugar, it would still be less than in the bottle.” Another option is to simply blend store-bought sauce with canned tomatoes to reduce the amount of sugar in each portion.

  • Lose The Candy Jar

    Is a candy jar part of your desk’s decor? What might be a welcoming treat for visitors can become a trap for you and your sugar habit. “If you take one piece in the morning, one later on, and so on, by the end of the day you may have eaten 10 pieces,” Hannon says. Moving the jar or getting rid of it entirely will help you limit your sugar intake and stick to your <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/type2/managing/diabetes-dietary-goals.aspx" target="_blank">type 2 diabetes diet.</a>

  • Eat Whole Fruit

    Sugar-sweetened fruit products like fruit roll-ups, fruit leather, and juice drinks give the illusion of being healthy options for a diabetes diet, but they really aren’t, says Hannon. Replace these choices with <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/including-fruit-in-a-diabetes-diet.aspx" target="_blank">one serving of whole fruit</a> to satisfy your sugar cravings with a nutritious, reduced-sugar option. The great thing about fruit is that you can easily eyeball a serving — it’s about the size of a baseball.

  • Make Your Own Salad Dressing

    Bottled salad dressings are surprisingly high in sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, says Hannon. But for many people, a tasty dressing enhances the pleasure of eating salad. Experiment with making your own dressings to limit the <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-recipes/healthy-salad-dos-and-donts.aspx" target="_blank">amount of sugar in your salad.</a> By using a homemade dressing, you’ll also be able to control other ingredients that affect your overall health as well as your diabetes, such as the type of oil you use or the amount of salt you add.

  • Avoid Flavoured Milk and Yogurt

    Low-fat dairy products are good for people with type 2 diabetes, but skip those strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla varieties. Flavoured milk contains a lot of added sugar, Hannon notes. If you really want milk with a little added sweetness, experiment with mixing in sugar-free syrups or just use the smallest amount of a sugar-based one to get a little added flavor. Likewise, opt for <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/greek-yogurt-in-the-diabetic-diet.aspx" target="_blank">plain yogurt and add your own chopped fresh fruit for a sweet taste.</a>

  • Make Your Own Trail Mix

    Granola, a main staple in many trail mixes, could quickly top out your sugar quota for the day, especially if the mix also includes a touch of chocolate or sugary nuts. You can improve your diabetes numbers by <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-recipe/trail-mix.aspx" target="_blank">making your own trail mix</a> with plain nuts, oats, and some dried fruit — and by sticking to a reasonable serving of your treat.

  • Ditch Cereal

    Even seemingly healthy boxed breakfast cereals may contain sugar that you don’t really need or want in your daily diabetes meal plan. <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/breakfast-ideas-for-diabetes.aspx" target="_blank">Look for breakfast choices that do not contain refined flours or added sugar.</a> For example, a slice of whole-grain toast with natural peanut butter and some fruit could be a good alternative. Beware of hidden sugar when eating out for breakfast. “Oatmeal at fast-food restaurants can be high in sugar,” warns Hannon.

  • Choose Whole Grains

    A simple switch that can improve your diet is <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/whole-grain-foods-better-nutrition-better-diet.aspx" target="_hplink">choosing whole-grain foods over refined flour ones,</a> such as whole-grain pasta instead of white pasta and whole-grain bread instead of white. Unfortunately, whole-grain alternatives are often costlier. In tight economies, it’s essential to look for supermarket sales that help you maximize food dollars, allowing you to continue to buy the building blocks of your healthy, low-sugar diabetes diet.

  • Think Portion Size

    Remember that eating one small cookie won't hurt your diabetes diet. The key is to keep the portion small and consider other options available to you, such as fresh fruit or a handful of nuts, before you reach for the cookie. But if you do choose the sugarier treat, just keep the <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/portion-sizes.aspx" target="_hplink">portion reasonable, really savor it, and adjust your diet plan for the day accordingly.</a>