George Lucas health: Star Wars creator has kept condition ‘under control’ for 54 years

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Having been coined as one of history’s most financially successful filmmakers, before his success as the creator of both Star Wars and Indiana Jones, the star battled with diabetes. Just 23 years of age at the time, Lucas had just graduated from university and was drafted for the Vietnam War. However, according to Diabetes UK, the creative genius was told that he could not go because he was diabetic.

The Star Wars creator is said to have followed in the footsteps of his paternal grandfather, who also had type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes UK added back in 2018: “George Lucas set a great example for millions of diabetic patients around the world by keeping his blood sugars levels under control for about 50 long years.”

Differing slightly from type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is characterised by abnormally high blood sugar levels (glucose). It is a life-long condition and can dramatically affect individuals’ everyday lives.

Medline Plus, a website run by the National Library of Medicine, explains that insulin controls how much glucose is passed from the blood into cells, where it is used as an energy source.

When blood sugar levels are high (such as after a meal), the pancreas releases insulin to move the excess glucose into cells, which reduces the amount of glucose in the blood.

However, most people that develop type 2 diabetes often have insulin resistance – a condition in which the body’s cells use insulin less efficiently than normal. As this resistance develops, more and more insulin is needed to keep blood sugar levels in the “normal range”.

This causes cells in the pancreas, known as beta calls, to over produce insulin, but over time they become less able to respond to blood sugar changes.

For many individuals insulin resistance develops as they age, but inadequate exercise and excessive weight gain can make it worse, greatly increasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

“Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time (over months or years) can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels,” warns the NHS.

If you experience high blood sugar levels, it is therefore imperative to bring them under control.

The NHS adds that many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is down to the fact that symptoms do not tend to make them feel unwell.

Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision.

When getting checked by a medical professional, a GP will typically ask about any symptoms you might be experiencing and then check both your urine and blood to monitor blood sugar levels.

Once results are back, individuals are notified whether they are diabetic or not and the next steps are explained.

As previously mentioned, some of the best ways to help manage blood sugar levels is to keep active and follow a healthy diet.

The NHS notes that there is technically nothing you cannot eat with type 2 diabetes, but limiting certain foods always helps.

As a general rule, avoid simple carbohydrates, commonly found in foods such as white bread. In addition, keeping fat, sugar and salt to a minimum is desirable.

As the American Heart Association explains, simple carbohydrates are digested quickly and send immediate bursts of blood sugar into the bloodstream. This can send blood sugar levels soaring so where possible it is important to avoid these types of carbohydrates.

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly and supply a lower, more steady release of blood sugar into the bloodstream. To help distinguish between the two, individuals should look for the glycemic index (GI) on foods containing carbohydrates.

Individuals should also aim to do nearly three hours of activity a week. This can be done anywhere as long as it gets your heart pumping faster and makes you feel a bit out of breath. It could include the following:

  • Fast walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Doing more strenuous housework or gardening.

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