You just found out from your latest trip to the doctor that you’re at a higher risk for diabetes. This is made even worse by the fact that you have a history of the disease in your family.
It can be a scary revelation that makes it seem like eventually having diabetes is inevitable. However, understanding the disease and the things that lower your risk can help you remove the anxiety surrounding the situation.
Diabetes is a non-communicable disease that affects millions of people in Nigeria. It happens when the body can’t make enough of the regulatory hormone, insulin, or can’t properly make use of the insulin that it makes – leading to unregulated and dangerous levels of blood sugar. There are two types of diabetes;
- Type-1 diabetes
Type-1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile-onset diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and permanently disables the insulin-making cells located in the pancreas. This type only constitutes about 5%-10% of diagnosed diabetes cases and is rare in adults.
- Type-2 diabetes
The other form of diabetes known as type-2 diabetes begins when muscle and other cells stop responding to the signals – to open-up-for glucose – sent by the insulin hormone. This results in the body making more and more insulin trying to force blood sugar into cells. Eventually, the insulin-making cells tire out and start to fail. It usually creeps up on people, taking a number of years to develop into full-blown diabetes.
Untreated cases can lead to kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease, blindness, loss of limb and other serious conditions.
The good news is, diabetes – especially type-2 which is the most common – is very preventable. Although you can’t change certain things that put you at risk such as age or genes, focusing on the things you can change – like your diet – can help to keep the disease at bay.
Even if you’re not at high risk, you still need to make the right decisions so that you don’t increase your risk. By making these changes to your lifestyle, you can enjoy a fuller, healthier life.
Here are 10 simple ways you can prevent diabetes:
1.Check your risk of diabetes
Assessing your risk of diabetes is incredibly crucial to preventing the occurrence of the disease. Visit your doctor and take the necessary risk assessment tests that detect your tendency for diabetes. You level of risk will determine how you manage everything else.
If you’re high risk, you’ll have to keep a closer eye on your sugar level as well as make strict lifestyle choices that are healthy and reduce your chances of getting diabetes. Low-risk individuals will also still need to make positive choices that improve their health.
2.Manage your weight
This is particularly crucial. There is a very strong link between being overweight and having diabetes. In fact, obesity is one of the risk factors for diabetes and managing your weight can decrease your risk of type-2 diabetes by as much as 60%.
If you’re overweight, it’s essential that you fashion out a weight loss plan. Losing weight not only helps prevent diabetes but a host of other disease and allows you to be more active and fit. Limiting your calorie intake is helpful to everyone – whether you’re overweight or not – and eating smaller portions is the biggest step towards that.
Serve meals in smaller plates so they look bigger and use teaspoons, salad forks, or child-size utensils to help you take smaller bites so you eat less.
In addition, eat slowly as this gives your stomach ample time to signal your brain that you’re full so you don’t overeat. You should also eat at the dining table rather than in front of the TV – we tend to eat more when we watch TV.
3. Exercise regularly
Some form of physical activity on a regular basis not only helps manage weight, reduce blood glucose levels, it improves your mood and keeps you fit.
Walk when you can, take the stairs instead of the elevator, perform stretches in the morning before you head out and just make sure you stay active.
4. Eat a balanced, healthy diet
Choosing to eat healthy is a decision that we all need to make. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet most notably trans- & saturated fats. You should also increase your intake of vegetable, fruits, and high-fibre foods while decreasing salt intake.
5. Cook with care
You definitely need to be mindful of how you prepare your meals as even the healthiest ingredients can make an unhealthy meal depending on how you cook it.
Cook with less oil/butter and stir, fry, broil or bake with low-salt broth. You can also try different healthier recipes for preparing your favourite dishes.
6. Limit processed foods
Canned foods usually contain a high amount of salt, fat and calories. Use fresh ingredients as often as you can and reduce the amount of time you cook with processed foods.
7. Limit your alcohol intake.
There’s an encyclopaedia full of negative health implications of taking too much alcohol. It can lead to weight gain and increase your blood pressure, both of which put you at higher risk of diabetes. Save the wine for the truly special occasion and restrict your drinking then to no more than a few glasses.
8. Quit smoking
If you smoke, you’re increasing your risk for a multitude of health conditions including lung cancer and diabetes. Smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes when compared with non-smokers. Quitting may be difficult but you’ll be doing yourself a world of good.
9. Control your blood pressure
If you eat right, exercise and avoid the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, you’re very likely to have a normal blood pressure. However, stress and other factors may increase your blood pressure and you may need medication prescribed by your doctor.
10. See your doctor for regular check-ups
The older you get, the higher your risk for numerous health conditions including diabetes. It’s always a good idea to visit your doctor regularly once you’re past 40 and check your blood glucose, blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
You can also inform them of any minor problems you may have so that they can help you can handle it early enough.
Diabetes can be a life-threatening condition that completely alters the way you live your life. However, it doesn’t have to come down to a life of pills and doctors 24/7. A simple right step can go a long way in staving off the disease and allowing you enjoy a quality life free of disease.
Take the right steps today!