Diabetes currently affects a staggering 422 million adults worldwide. It is a chronic metabolic disease presenting with high blood sugar levels and damage to several organs such as kidney, eyes and heart.
This accounts for a high prevalence of blindness, stroke, heart attacks in all parts of the world. Although, diabetes may begin in childhood, 9 out of 10 persons have a preventable form of diabetes that usually develops later in life. This is known as Type 2 diabetes.
The incidence of Type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically globally. Persons with type 2 diabetes live with disability necessitating hospital visits, daily use of medicines and reduced productivity. Happily, you can reduce the risk of diabetes by understanding and taking the following simple steps:
1. Watch what you Eat
Foods rich in sugar have a relationship with diabetes, perhaps because they cause weight gain. However, the quantity of sugar delivered into the blood stream matter more than the source. So, eating in small portions is the key. You should consume whole grain bread, cereals, rice, yam and other starchy foods in moderation. Many refined food items such as biscuits contain added sugar and you should try to avoid consuming these in large quantities. If you have to eat sweets, keep it small and try substituting it for another carbohydrate. Understanding the basics of food labeling is worthwhile. For example, you can easily look for ‘whole’ on the package to ascertain if the food item contains whole grain. Go for at least 5-10 grams of fibre daily. Fish, nuts, beans, vegetables, seeds and other foods rich in fibre should be regular parts of your meals.
2. Go for Healthy Drinks
Drink water, tea and coffee instead of carbonated drinks. Research has shown that drinking sugary beverages is linked to type 2 diabetes. Regular soda, fruit drinks, sweet tea and energy drinks are all examples of beverages that contain high levels of sugar. Some carbonated drinks contain as much as 8-10 teaspoons of sugar! In addition some refined juices contain added sugars, sweeteners and preservatives. Say ‘No’ to sugary drinks. Consider healthy alternatives. Eat fresh fruits or drink smoothies rather sugary fruit juices.
3. Be physically active
Exercise lowers blood sugar and increases body’s sensitivity to insulin. Have you made exercise a routine part of your lifestyle? Here is another good reason to do so. It is never too late to begin. You need at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times weekly and about 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Be sure to combine these with muscle strengthening exercises. Be consistent. Never allow prolonged periods of inactivity to set in.
4. Know if you are at risk and get tested
Some personal and genetic factors may suggest that you are at risk of diabetes. Do you have a parent, brother or sister with the condition? Are you 45 years or older? Are you overweight? Have you had elevated blood sugar levels in the past? Is your blood pressure elevated? Do you exercise less than three times week? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, then you need to be tested for diabetes. Some individuals have pre-diabetes which precedes the metabolic disorder. The main feature of pre-diabetes is the presence of moderately elevated level of blood sugar. It has been linked to other disorders like obesity, heart disease and dementia. It is possible to halt or delay the progression to diabetes by making active lifestyle changes and having regular blood sugar checks.
5. Lose excess weight
You can prevent or delay diabetes by losing some weight. Studies show that losing about 5-7 percent of total body weight can make a lot of difference. Granted, losing weight may be more difficult for some than others. Staying active and eating healthy may be all you need to shed excess fat and maintain healthy weight. There are BMI calculators, apps and support groups to help you achieve your weight goals.
If you have concerns about diabetes, feel free to share these with your doctors. He or She will provide specific advice based on your medical history.
Yes, doing what you can to improve your health is worth it. Why not implement these 5 simple steps today? Make these changes to your lifestyle today to beat diabetes.
For more health tips, news and facts, sign up here.