The rise in Diabetes has become a major concern and burden on health departments across the world, to put in in perspective – the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 463 million in 2018, with the highest growth is in middle and low income countries, according to the Wold Health Organisation.
In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2016, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths and in 2012 high blood glucose was the cause of another 2.2 million deaths.
What is Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge. Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is when the body is ineffective in the use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of unhealthy lifestyles, excess body weight and physical inactivity.
What are common consequences of diabetes?
According to the WHO, over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
- Adults with diabetes have a two- to three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes (1).
- Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation.
- Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness, and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. 2.6% of global blindness can be attributed to diabetes (2).
- Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure
Prevention is always better than a cure! Luckily type 2 diabetes can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes. It’s estimated that up to 70% of people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, progressing from pre-diabetes to diabetes can be delayed through important and simple lifestyle changes.
Sugary foods, refined carbs and saturated fats are 3 red flags when it comes to type 2 diabetes. An excess of either or all can put at-risk individuals on the fast track to developing diabetes. Eating foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar increases blood sugar and insulin levels, which may lead to diabetes over time, many the other health problems associated with unhealthy diets.
Instead of eating junk food, focus on eating more whole foods and foods high in fibre, which can be found in most plant based foods. Consuming a good fibre source at each meal can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which may help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Regular exercise or playing sport can help prevent diabetes. Physical exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells. So when you exercise, less insulin is required to keep your blood sugar levels under control. We have written lot’s on sports and exercise for fitness, weight loss etc which we will list below. But choose physical activity or sport that you enjoy, as it will help motivate you to do it more often.
Not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, but the majority are. And statistic show that people with pre-diabetes carry more excess weight in their midsection and around abdominal organs like the liver. This is known as visceral fat and according to the WHO Excess visceral fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, which significantly increase the risk of diabetes.
Therefore achieving and maintain healthy body weight or losing weight especially if you are obese can help dramatically reduce the risk of diabetes as well as a host of other health problems.
Here are a few tips on losing weight :
Through the lifestyle we lead, we control over many of the factors that influence diabetes. A healthy lifestyle can help you avoid so much more than diabetes. An unhealthy diet complimented with little physical activity can leave you wide open for a plethora of health conditions in youth or adult hood.
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