November 14 marks World Diabetes Day, and experts concur that diabetes education is crucial since a large number of people with the condition are unaware of it. Diabetes is among the top 10 killers globally and one of the biggest global health crises of the twenty-first century.
Therefore, people must be aware of their diabetes status because early treatment, proactive intervention, and a healthy lifestyle can all significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and its related consequences.
What is diabetes?
"Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) is a metabolic disorder with varied causes that is characterised by chronically elevated blood sugar or glucose levels," says Dr Zaheer Bayat, a physician, endocrinologist, and Chair of the Society for Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes of South Africa (SEMDSA).
“Glucose is an important source of energy for our muscles and tissues, and is the brain's main source of fuel. No matter what type of diabetes you have, excess sugar in the blood can lead to serious health problems.”
More than 90% of persons with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which is the most prevalent form. Though it can appear at any age, those over the age of 40 tend to get it more frequently.
Bayat points out that urbanisation and an unhealthy lifestyle significantly influence the development of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, excess body weight is estimated to account for 87% of cases of type 2 diabetes in South Africa.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes caused by rising blood sugar levels include:
- Excessive urination.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Increased night-time urination.
- Blurry vision
- Increased thirst.
- Sores that don’t heal.
- Weight loss.
To effectively treat type 2 diabetes, self-care is crucial. Close monitoring of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood fat levels, along with routine medical exams to ensure that prompt action may be taken to diagnose and treat any complications as they emerge, are the most efficient ways to avoid or prevent the disease or death from diabetes.
Treatment and lifestyle
If you have type 2 diabetes, you can still lead a healthy, active life without experiencing any major issues. This will necessitate good self-care and management, as well as following your doctor's, dietician's, and diabetic educator's recommendations for nutrition, exercise, blood sugar monitoring, and, when necessary, the use of the appropriate medications.
Prevention is better than cure
Dr Bayat suggests the following three strategies to significantly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes:
Consume a healthy diet
Choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fibre. Focus on fruits (in moderation), vegetables, and whole grains. Get more physical activity.
Try to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, or around 30 minutes, on the majority of days. For instance, go for a brisk daily walk. Break a long workout split into shorter sessions spread out throughout the day if you are unable to squeeze one in.
Lose any extra weight. If you are overweight, even a 7% weight loss can reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Even a 6- to 7kg weight loss can greatly reduce your chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes 2 for a person who weighs about 90kg.
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