Sir Lenny Henry was terrified of losing his limbs due to diabetes

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

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Sir Henry’s mum, Winifred, lost both her legs because of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. The condition eventually shortened her life, with Winifred passing away in 1998. When Sir Henry was warned he too could develop type 2 diabetes, the star of the TV series Chef! decided to steer himself into a better direction.

“My mum lost two legs through diabetes and eventually died from it, so I knew I had to lose weight,” he said of his motivation. “The doctor warned me I was heading the same way.”

Sir Henry confessed he was “finding it difficult to get in and out of the car”.

In his attempt to lose weight, he followed a “very strict diet”, which consisted of “lots of greens”.

“Dieting is tedious,” he admitted in a previous interview. “But I feel better for it.”

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By altering his diet, and “lots of walking”, Sir Henry was able to shed the excess pounds.

“It’s hard, but like anything, if you put your mind to it, you can do it,” he told the Daily Mail in 2015.

Now 64, Sir Henry’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes has increased, so he will need to keep on top of a healthy diet and plenty of exercise to help prevent the condition.

As his mum had type 2 diabetes, Sir Henry is “two to six times more likely to get type 2 diabetes”, Diabetes UK notes.

Other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, according to the charity, includes:

  • Being of South Asian descent and African-Caribbean or Black African descent
  • If you have high blood pressure
  • If you’re overweight
  • Smoking
  • You had gestational diabetes
  • You have polycystic ovary syndrome
  • You have mental health issues
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Disturbed sleep.

“Whether you have any other risk factors or not, if you’re over 40 your risk of type 2 diabetes and other conditions is higher,” Diabetes UK says.

“If you’re aged 40 to 74 and living in England, you may be eligible for a free NHS Health Check.”

The NHS Health Check will test your blood sugar levels, so diabetes can be ruled out or diagnosed.

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Signs of type 2 diabetes

The onset of type 2 diabetes can be ever so slight, so the condition is easily missed.

Do seek the support of a doctor if you identify with any of these signs of high blood sugar, which have been pointed out by the NHS.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms

  • 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.

Having high blood sugar puts you at greater risk of other health conditions, such as heart disease, blindness, and nerve damage.

Once a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is possible to go into remission.

Remission is when blood sugar levels are within the normal range without the aid of medication.

One of the best ways to put diabetes into remission is to loose weight, Diabetes UK says.

Lenny Henry is a guest on The Graham Norton Show, Friday, December 9 at 10.55pm on BBC One.

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