We’ve heard for years that many of the factors leading to type 2 diabetes are lifestyle related,
so why aren’t we listening? Type 2 diabetes
occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells don’t use the insulin effectively. Anyone can get type 2 diabetes but its highest incidence is in people over 45 years of age. It is also more common among people who
are overweight. There is also a condition known as pre-diabetes, which occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, pre-diabetes may develop into type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years. In addition to the risk of developing diabetes, people with pre-diabetes have
an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
CAUSES Glucose, which comes from the carbohydrate-based foods we eat, is the main source of energy for the body. If the body is working as it should, your digestive system will break down the carbohydrates to glucose, which then enters the bloodstream. The pancreas then releases the hormone insulin, which is responsible for moving
the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells so it can be converted to energy. With type 1 diabetes, though the cause is not yet known, it is thought that something like a viral infection triggers the immune system to destroy the insulin-making cells. People with type 2 diabetes are usually insulin resistant. This means their body makes insulin but the insulin is not working as well as it should, so the body must make more. Eventually it can’t make enough to keep the glucose balance correct. Type 2 diabetes is usually lifestyle related and is caused by factors such as: Poor diet, including low protein and fibre intake and
high intake of refined products
and sugar. Obesity and fat distribution, where fat is mostly located in the abdominal region in men and the lower body in women. Sedentary lifestyle, particularly exercising less than three times a week. Stress, from either a physical injury or emotional disturbance. Other causes include some infections, hypertension, hereditary predisposition and some drugs.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS Approximately 50 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes are unaware they have it. People can go for years not realising they have the disease, their health slowly deteriorating. Some of the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes include: increased thirst frequent urination extreme hunger weight loss fatigue blurred vision slow-healing sores frequent infections.
DIAGNOSIS Various blood tests can be used to screen for diabetes, so ask your doctor for more details. The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening for type 2 diabetes beginning at age 45, especially if you’re overweight. If the results are normal, repeat the test every three years. If the results are borderline, repeat the test every year.
TREATMENTS AND PREVENTION Unfortunately there is no cure
for diabetes, so prevention is the ideal. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity and having healthy eating patterns. Living with diabetes is a matter of managing the disease and preventing complications. Treatment for type 2 diabetes is a lifelong commitment of blood sugar monitoring, healthy eating, regular exercise and sometimes medication. Studies indicate that tight control of blood sugar levels can reduce the risk of diabetes-related heart attack and stroke by more than 50 per cent.
HEALTHY EATING Whether you are living with diabetes or trying to avoid it, the key is good nutrition. This simply means making sure your diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes and whole grains.Various dietitians also recommend leaning towards
low-GI foods, which are foods that are slower to digest and therefore create more stable blood sugar levels. Examples of low-GI foods include rolled oats, brown rice, wholegrain bread, broccoli, raw carrot, tomatoes, hummus, walnuts, peaches, apples, legumes and whole milk. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you put together a meal plan that fits
your health goals, food preferences and lifestyle. To keep your blood sugar levels balanced, it is recommended that you eat the same amount of food, with the same proportion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, at a similar time each day. A good breakfast is also extremely important for dealing with insulin resistence as prolonged fasting can cause your blood glucose levels to rise.
Good options are wholegrain
toast with an egg, porridge (made
with rolled oats) or plain yoghurt with almonds.
EXERCISE When it comes to exercise, what’s most important is making physical activity part of your daily routine. Take the stairs and walk instead of driving whenever possible. Opt for active leisure time; for example, head to the park instead of the movies. Aim to do at least
30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Stretching and strength training exercises are important, too. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually. Be aware that physical activity lowers blood sugar, so if you have diabetes, check your blood sugar level before any activity. You might need to have a snack before exercising to help prevent low blood sugar.
Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256 •