Diabetes is a major health issue in the UK and around the world – but the majority of cases can be prevented. Find out what you can do to take control of your diabetes or avoid it altogether.
World Health Day is happening on the 7th April, and this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) is focusing on diabetes. WHO has identified diabetes as a major problem globally, and the number of people diagnosed with the condition is increasing rapidly. By 2030, WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of deaths worldwide1.
Diabetes is a major issue in the UK, and there is surprisingly little awareness surrounding the diagnosis and management of the condition. There are 3.5 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes, and there are predictions that over half a million people have it and don’t realise2.
By raising awareness of diabetes this World Health Day, WHO hopes that the number of premature deaths from diabetes can be significantly reduced. Many diabetes cases are preventable. Read on to find out more about this condition and what you can do to avoid it.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, lifelong condition which affects the amount of sugar in your blood. This is either because your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because the insulin it does produce does not work properly. Insulin is a hormone which allows sugar (glucose) to enter your cells, and diabetes prevents the glucose in your blood from reaching your cells3.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes accounts for around 1 in 10 adult cases, and it usually appears when you are under the age of 40. Type 1 is also the most common type of diabetes diagnosed in childhood. People with Type 1 diabetes are unable to produce their own insulin and must have daily doses via insulin injections or an insulin pump4.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes usually appears when you are older than 40, although it is becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents. When you have Type 2 diabetes the insulin in your body does not work properly, so glucose builds up in your blood. If you have this type of diabetes you can manage it with a healthy diet and exercise along with medication and insulin doses5.
Am I at risk?
90% of diabetic people in the UK have Type 2, which is preventable for the vast majority of people6. If the level of sugar in your blood is high but not in the diabetic range, you may be diagnosed as prediabetic, which means you have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
How to prevent diabetes
The main risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are weight gain and not taking enough exercise – meaning there are straightforward steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing the condition.
1. Eat well
If you are overweight or have a large waist, you are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight is the best way to reduce your risk – every kilogram you lose reduces your diabetes risk by 16%7.
Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates is the best way to achieve a healthy weight. You should also be mindful of your portion sizes as you could be inadvertently eating more than you need to.
Type 2 diabetes is also linked to high sugar consumption, and most UK adults consume 15 teaspoons of added sugar every day - far higher than the WHO recommended limit of six teaspoons8. You can reduce your sugar intake by consuming protein-rich foods to quell cravings and swapping to sweeteners such as stevia.
2. Move more
Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight by burning calories. It can also lower your blood-sugar level by helping your body to use insulin more effectively.
Getting enough exercise is not just about slogging it out at the gym. The UK government physical activity guidelines recommend that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week9 – and this can include everyday activities such as walking and housework.
Controlling diabetes usually requires a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. There are various diabetes treatments available, and many people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes require regular doses of insulin.
For people with Type 2 diabetes, improving your diet is the most important factor in managing your condition. There is new research that suggests people with Type 2 diabetes can return their blood-sugar level to normal in eight weeks by following a calorie restricted diet. An extremely low-calorie diet can reduce the amount of fat around your liver and pancreas, returning your blood-sugar level to normal and improving insulin function10.
If you have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or you are prediabetic, a BMI Consultant can help you to take control and create a treatment plan that helps you live a normal and healthy life.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337 or make an online enquiry.