It is difficult to control everything that can affect our health; such as: our genetic makeup, age, or even a family history of diabetes. However, steps can be implemented to help us reach our full health potential, adding years to our lives and improving its quality, even if we have been diagnosed with diabetes.
In the case of diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes (the most common type of diabetes), prevention is very important. It is especially important to make diabetes- prevention a priority for those persons who are at high risk because of:
• Weight: The more we have fatty tissue present in our bodies, the more resistant our cells become to insulin.
• Inactivity: This increases the risk of developing diabetes, while physical activity helps to control weight, uses up glucose as energy, and makes cells more sensitive to insulin.
• Family history: Having a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes.
• Race: Although it is unclear, people of certain races, among which are Africans, Hispanics, Amerindians and Asians, are at higher risk of contracting diabetes.
• Age: The risk of contracting diabetes increases with age. This may be due to less exercise, reduced muscle mass, and weight gain. However, contraction of Type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents, and younger adults.
• Gestational diabetes: Developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk of developing prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes within ten years.
• Polycystic ovary syndrome: For women having polycystic ovary syndrome, a common medical condition characterised by irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair growth and obesity increase the risk of contracting diabetes.
• High blood pressure: Having blood pressure over 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) is linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
• Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels:
Consider these diabetes prevention tips coming from the American Diabetes Association.
1. GET PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – EXERCISE
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
• Lose weight
• Lower your blood sugar
• Boost the sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar levels within a normal range
The is no need to join a gym or do cross-training; just walk, ride a bike, swim, or play active video games. The goal should be to get 30 minutes of activity, which results in sweating and mild increased breathing. Research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes. The greatest benefit comes from a fitness programme that includes both.
2. USE MORE FIBRE
Fibre may help:
• Reduce the risk of diabetes by improving blood sugar control
• Lower the risk of heart disease
• Promote weight loss by helping persons to feel full
Foods high in fibre include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts.
3. WEIGHT LOSS AND CONTROL
For overweight and obese persons, diabetes-prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound lost can improve our health. In one large study, participants who lost a modest amount of weight, around 7 percent of initial body weight, and exercised regularly, reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.
4. KNOW YOUR HEALTH NUMBERS:
Through home monitoring and regular visits with a health care provider, it is easier to keep track of blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and weight. These critical health numbers provide insight into how well an individual’s treatment plan is working to manage their diabetes and safeguard their overall health, including that of their heart.
5. WORK ALONG WITH A HEALTH CARE TEAM:
Diabetes can have multiple health implications, affecting the eyes, feet and legs, kidneys and heart; and since treating it can require special medications and a special diet, a health care team may include a number of medical professionals with various specialties helping to reach a common goal of managing the disease and its complications.
6. GET REGULAR CHECKUPS.
Keeping regular appointments with doctors; getting tested and screenings on time, help persons to be active partners with their health care team.
• Know what questions to ask.
• Write them down ahead of time.
• Let the doctor know, at the beginning of each visit, what specific things to talk about.
Consulting a doctor at least twice a year is recommended. Contracting diabetes raises the odds of developing heart diseases, so it is important to know the results of cholesterol, blood pressure, and A1c (average blood sugar over 3 months). Get a full eye exam every year, and check for problems like foot ulcers and nerve damage annually.
7. STRESS MAKES EVERYTHING WORSE
Stress can get in the way of self-care and managing diabetes. When persons are stressed, their blood sugar levels increase, which can be problematic for diabetics. Stress can affect a person’s ability to effectively manage their diabetes, by causing them to forget to exercise, neglect eating right, or be recalcitrant in taking their medicines. It is important to find ways to relieve stress through deep breathing, yoga, or relaxing hobbies.
8. CHECK FOR DEPRESSION
People often find it difficult to know when they are depressed. Here are some common signs:
• Feeling down, blue, hopeless, sad, or irritable
• Not enjoying activities that used to be enjoyable
• Feeling as though they are letting other people down
• Difficulty concentrating
• Tired all the time, no energy
• No interest in food
• Trouble falling asleep
• Feeling like life is not worth living
9. WRITE DOWN YOUR CARE PLAN
Work with doctors to design a diabetes care plan which includes:
• Names of tablets and side effects
• Daily targets for blood sugar and pressure
• Clear goals to achieve in 3, 5, and 10 years’ time
• Signs of complications or worsening