Gone are the days when diabetes was a disease only among adults. Our modern lifestyle is taking such a toll on us that diabetes is a global concern today among all age groups. It is estimated that over 347 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
The statistics are indeed alarming. But there is hope and the good news is that by making simple lifestyle changes and eating healthy, coupled with regular physical activity, you can not only control diabetes, but also turn it around.
What is diabetes?
According to the WHO, diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce any or enough insulin or when the body cannot use the insulin that it produces.
In simple terms, diabetes develops when glucose can’t enter the body cells to be used as fuel. This happens because either there is no key (insulin) to unlock the door to the cells as in type 1 diabetes; or the key (insulin) is unable to unlock the door properly; or the key (insulin) is there but the lock doesn’t work properly, as in type 2 diabetes.
There are 2 main types of diabetes. Type 1 is insulin dependent and it is not preventable with current knowledge. It is characterised by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of type 1 is not known. The symptoms include excessive excretion of urine, excessive thirst, weight loss, constant hunger, vision changes, irritability, fatigue, slow healing cuts and bruises.
Type 2 is non-insulin dependent and usually occurs within the adult years. It results from the body’s non-effective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes but are often less marked. As a result the disease may be diagnosed several years after its onset, only once complications have already arisen. Until recently, this was seen only in adults, but now it is also occurring in children.
Is it possible to prevent the disease?
The answer is a definite yes. You just need to make that extra effort to change your old sedentary lifestyle as well as your unhealthy eating habits, besides including physical activity in your daily regime. Here are a few more tips that will help keep a check on your disease even if you can’t turn it around completely.
- Simple lifestyle measures: Following a healthy lifestyle is the most difficult, especially if you have been following a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle for years. Old habits die hard, they say. So to begin, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight: With regular exercise and a nutrition-rich diet, you can maintain a healthy body weight.
- Be physically active regularly: Start by taking a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes in a day. You can also stay active by doing your household chores like gardening, sweeping, mopping, taking your dog for walks, or walking to the supermarket or office instead of taking your car.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables: Nothing can beat fresh fruits and vegetables. Include them in your daily diet and you will definitely see the difference!
- Reduce sugar and fat intake: Sugar and fat are considered to be the most damaging ingredients that you can ingest. You can reduce your sugar intake with other healthier substitutes.
- Avoid tobacco use: Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases: If you want to stay fit and healthy, learn to say ‘no’ to tobacco.
Diabetes is generally not diagnosed until complications occur. Therefore, the key to good health would be to see a doctor if you see any persistent problems; eat healthy by limiting your calories intake; exercise and shed those extra pounds. You also need to keep your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in check.
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