I'm a man of simple pleasures. I don't need riches, nor do I need fame. I wouldn't mind either of them but I don't need them in the way that I need a can of Cherry Coke every few days to be happy. And here lies my biggest issue. I love sugar. I love sugar of all kinds in all forms, and without it I feel like something is missing from my life.
It's a real bitch then, that I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes earlier this year. Combined with my eczema and seasonal asthma, I'm the king of nonthreatening ailments that are just minor enough that they don't ruin my life, but just annoying enough that they make every day a frustration.
It didn't come as much of a surprise. I've been known to take 100 Jaffa Cakes to the dome in a single night, and could kill off a crate of 24 Cherry Cokes in an evening, back when I lived in the UK. Moving to China probably helped put it off a little while, but I still eat like shit, consuming carbs like a bear at a picnic.
My entire family tree has dealt with type 2 diabetes, a disease which according to the US National Library of Medicine, is caused by an unknown mixture of genetics and lifestyle. Apparently 150 variations of DNA have been associated with the risk of developing diabetes, and knowing my luck, I probably have all of them. This, combined with my self-destructive lifestyle of consuming as much sugar as possible just to feel normal in the morning, meant that I was was essentially screwed from the start.
In case you're reading and thinking 'what even is diabetes?, ahhh well doesn't affect me', let me take a moment to explain. Type 2 diabetes is when your body isn't making insulin correctly. Insulin is a hormone that helps in moving glucose to your cells for them to make energy with. Glucose is a kind of simple sugar that occurs naturally in both plants and animals. Alarmingly, both types of diabetes are increasing at worrying rates, especially amongst youths.
While the cause is listed as unclear, the massive increase in fast food and carb-based ready meals probably has a lot to do with the rise of diabetes, which goes hand-in-hand with obesity. While companies with vested interest in peddling cheap carb-heavy junk lobby and skew facts (see the food pyramid that was accepted as gospel in the 80s and 90s) The rise of obesity can be seen in action, as fast food, which was until recently a rarity in China, is becoming more commonplace in the everyday diet.
A large factor in this is that the extreme amount of sugar in common products is pretty well hidden. I never even gave a second thought to buying Starbuck's Christmas Cinnamon Mocha Choco cookie frap with extra sprinkles of sugar and a candy cane the size of a real cane sticking out the top. "Who would have thought coffee could taste this great!" I thought as I consumed more than 100 grams of sugar, more than double the daily recommended allowance , before 8am.
Anyway, I could point fingers at corporations all day, but rather than blaming everyone but myself, I'd rather look and see if it's possible to try and fix a lifetime of neglect. And there's good news there.
Many people are managing to send their diabetes into remission, using diet and weight loss. Not ideal for someone like I, who enjoys spending my days in a similar fashion to a beached whale, but it's good to know that it isn't necessarily forever. When I was first diagnosed, I actually had pretty good success in this area. I went completely carb free. This lasted almost four months, and while the first month was unbearable, and caused constant headaches and moodswings as I thought depserately about grabbing a can of cherry coke, which was introduced into China just last year, with Warren Buffet's smirking face branded on the side of the can, looking at me as if to say "Oh Deathbatter, you really thought you could escape me? I AM YOU."
After that first month though, things were going great, I was losing weight, feeling good, waking up with energy, and my blood sugar levels had dropped considerably. Sadly after four months I had to travel back to the UK, and I regressed entirely back to my old self, and haven't been able to force myself back through that carb cold turkey ever since.
My only victory then, is that I have managed to keep sugary drinks out of my diet. I haven't had a coke of any kind in 7 months, and I am now addicted to soda water, which is frankly the only thing keeping me sane. One day I'd like to get back on the horse, and when I do, hopefully I'll be able to stay on it long enough to reverse the condition completely.
However, in what feels like a rain shower of good news and tidings, there's even more promising research! A team in Zurich, Switzerland have recently taken a break from founduing and worked out and demonstrated that in mice at least, caffene can be used to trigger changes in genetic circuitry. Using this method, they have been able to treat diabetes in mice with sips of coffee. Hopefully that will one day be applied to cherry coke and jaffa cakes in a one-two punch of delicious treatment.
Until then, I'll be a fat fuck that takes his medicine like a good 32 year old boy.