Diabetes is now a very common disease prevalent in our society. More and more people are being diagnosed with the disease as they haven’t notice the signs, or known enough about it to prevent themselves from getting it.
What is Diabetes?
1 in 16 people in the UK have diabetes. It is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. The hormone insulin which is produced by the pancreas is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood.
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1– where the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin
- Type 2– where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease and the cause isn’t clear. It tends to start at a younger age.
Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by lifestyle. As a healthcare professional, I come across patients with diabetes on a regular basis. When not well controlled, it can cause some horrific results.
Diabetes can have serious effects on your life such as nerve damage possibly leading to amputation, eye damage possibly leading to vision loss, so it really is in your own interest to do all you can to prevent getting it.
It is also a risk factor for other conditions such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease so it’s important to try to prevent it or keep it well controlled if you already have the condition.
There are some risk factors that you can’t change that can contribute and can increase your chance of getting diabetes. These include:
- Genetics- having a close relative such as a parent of sibling with the condition
- Age- being over the age of 40 or (over 25 for people of south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or black African origin, even if you were born in the UK)
These risk factors do not mean that you’ll definitely get diabetes but you may have to be extra cautious regarding lifestyle choices to help prevent it.
How do I prevent it?
Research shows that the most effective way to prevent and manage diabetes is to lose weight (if you’re overweight), eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Exercising regularly and reducing your body weight by about 5% could reduce your risk of getting diabetes more than 50%!
Eating healthily doesn’t mean you have to be restrictive in your eating. You don’t have to avoid certain food groups. It may just mean incorporating more vegetables to your meals or snacking less and choosing a piece of fruit instead.
When cooking, you may choose to reduce the amount of salt you use or increasing the amount of fibre in your food.
Switch the fizzy drink for some fruit juice or water.
If you like to drink alcohol, try to keep within the recommended amount of 14 units per week and to have alcohol free days.
Smoking can also increase your risk of getting diabetes so quitting smoking is also another way to help reduce your chance of getting diabetes.
There are various ways to help so speak to your GP or local pharmacist to discuss your options and choose one that’s best for you.
Exercising regularly sometimes sounds difficult to achieve especially if you hate exercising or find it difficult to add to your busy schedule.