World Diabetes Day 2018: From Awareness to Prevention
Diabetes is said to be the epidemic of the 21st century.
The facts are staggering. In Australia alone there are 280 new cases are diagnosed each day.
With 1.7 million Australians having diabetes, this includes all types. Type 1, 2 and gestational.
But what is really worrying is that 2 million Australians are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This group of people is growing daily and are known as “pre-diabetic”.
What is Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 occurs when the cells of the body do not recognize insulin (a hormone) as the key to unlocking glucose stores. This results in a decreased efficiency of the body – most commonly you will begin to feel tired and drained.
Factors such as being overweight, high levels of fat within the body, a poor lifestyle and bad diet are directly responsible for this reduction in the efficiency of insulin. Such a lifestyle can even lead to a reduced amount of insulin in the body.
Therefore, people who have one or more of these risk factors, are more likely to develop diabetes. In the past, this was more common in people over 45 but changes in our lifestyle and our diet have seen age no longer be a deciding factor.
What does life look like with diabetes?
Being diabetic poses many risks, and if left unchecked can cause serious harm. Being aware of how you might feel with high blood glucose levels is key to understanding your body, and looking at your diet and exercise habits become vitally important. With unchecked diabetes, your life could look like this:
- Feeling tired and lethargic throughout the day
- Unplanned weight loss, blurred vision, headaches, or dizziness
- Having mood swings and a generally negative mood.
- Not being able to run after your children, exercise properly or play your favourite sport.
- Developing heart disease, stroke, blindness and kidney failure in later life.
What does it mean to be pre-diabetic?
If you have any form of heart disease, are physically inactive, eat poorly and are overweight, chances are you will already be prediabetic, and changes in your life are needed to avoid developing diabetes. If you think you might be at risk, be sure to take a test.
We also found a risk calculator on the Diabetes Australia website. You can find the calculator here. If results show you are pre-diabetic, then go see your doctor and get an oral glucose tolerance test, or a fasting blood sugar test.
These are easy and effective ways to diagnose prediabetes and can serve as markers for improvement once lifestyle changes are made.
What can you do to avoid developing diabetes?
The good news is, that up to 60% of Type 2 Diabetes cases are able to be delayed or even prevented by changing one’s lifestyle, diet and personal awareness of diabetes.
The best strategies to avoid diabetes include:
- Exercise and regular physical activity. Regular exercise increases the effectiveness of the remaining insulin cells in the body. This means that at least 30 minutes a day of low to moderate intensity activity (such as walking, swimming or a circuit class) gives you the best chance at losing weight and improving cardiovascular health.
- Managing blood and cholesterol levels
- Having a healthy, balanced diet that is able to manage cholesterol and processed fat levels. Eating junk food, or too much food without proper fruit and vegetable intake will cause prediabetes to develop further and increases the unhealthy fats that are currently causing so many issues within the body.
- Not smoking
We hope this information will help you understand the basics about diabetes, and how small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference to your life.