World Diabetes Day: Nine things to do to avoid disease

Sugar
Cubes of Sugar used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: YouTUbe]

Do you feel tired, hungry and excessively thirsty all the time? Do you experience blurred vision or a tingling in the feet? Have you lost weight, frequently visited the toilet to urinate?

If the answer to these is yes then you could be suffering from diabetes.

Diabetes occurs when your body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there is either not enough of the hormone insulin (produced by the pancreas) to break down the glucose, or the insulin produced does not work properly.

Diabetes is a non-communicable disease but can be hereditary and can lead to other medical complications if not well managed.

In 2017, statistics from the World Health Organsation indicates that about 8.8 per cent of the global population had diabetes. That is over 450 million people diagnosed with the disease.

Unfortunately, the figure is projected to rise to 9.9 per cent by 2045 making diabetes one of the fastest growing chronic non-communicable diseases in the world.

Diabetes has remained one of the leading causes of kidney failure. It also doubles the risk for heart attack or stroke and there is no cure for it. For those already diagnosed with diabetes, it can be treated with insulin, dietary changes, and exercise.

However, for those yet to have the disease; here are some things you need to do to prevent it.

1. Know your blood sugar level – Having knowledge of your blood sugar level is very important. In fact, this is the first step to take in preventing or treatment of diabetes. This can be done through professional help by doctors or other certified medical personnel. The test for this is called fasting blood sugar or fasting blood glucose. It measures the estimated level of sugar in the blood at a given time or over a period of time.

The test is done in the morning before the person has eaten. The normal range for blood glucose is 70 to 100mg/dl.

2. Eat balanced and healthy diet – Your eating habit is a predisposing factor to having diabetes. There is a need to eat balanced and healthy diet especially vegetables, fruits, roughages or food high in fibre, among others.

There is also a need to reduce high intake of carbohydrates food as this converts to sugar when digested. Also reduce fat in your diet especially saturated and trans fat like cakes, cookies bread etc. There is a need to also reduce intake of salt, sugar and alcoholic drinks. Also avoid or minimise processed foods.

3. Exercise regularly/always be active – Do not live a sedentary lifestyle. You need regular exercise. Regular exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of the cells and puts the blood sugar automatically under control.

4. Control your blood pressure – There is a link between blood pressure and diabetes. To reduce the risk of diabetes especially in people with hereditary history of the disease, there is a need to constantly monitor your blood pressure. Most times hypertension and diabetes are conjoined twins.

5. Limit alcohol intake – Alcohol has a lot of calories which can make people gain weight and increase their blood sugar level. By avoiding or reducing intake of alcohol, you can reduce diabetes risk.

6. Reduce stress – Stress can cause diabetes. When you are stressed, your body triggers several hormones that can increase your blood sugar level. To cope with stress you can engage in walking, yoga and listening to music, among others.

7. Manage your weight – Manage your weight to prevent being overweight or obese. Excessive weight again is usually associated with diabetes.

8. Quit smoking – Smokers are twice likely to develop diabetes, compared to non-smokers.

9. See your doctor for regular check-up – As you get older, it is advisable to see your physician regularly.

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