Around three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. However, you’ve found out you’re at risk – and knowing is a big first step – the important thing to do is take an action to lower your risk.
What is diabetes
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is classed as a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies use digested food for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar in the blood – it is the principal source of fuel for our bodies.
When our food is digested, the glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our cells use the glucose for energy and growth. However, glucose cannot enter our cells without insulin being present – insulin makes it possible for our cells to take in the glucose.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate quantity of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells, as soon as glucose enters the cells blood-glucose levels drop.
A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated (hyperglycaemia). This is because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood. This excess blood glucose eventually passes out of the body in urine. So, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements.
How to determine whether you have diabetes, prediabetes or neither
Doctors can determine whether a patient has a normal metabolism, prediabetes or diabetes in one of three different ways – there are three possible tests:
- The A1C test
– at least 6.5% means diabetes
– between 5.7% and 5.99% means prediabetes
– less than 5.7% means normal
- The FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test
– at least 126 mg/dl means diabetes
– between 100 mg/dl and 125.99 mg/dl means prediabetes
– less than 100 mg/dl means normal
An abnormal reading following the FPG means the patient has impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
- The OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test)
– at least 200 mg/dl means diabetes
– between 140 and 199.9 mg/dl means prediabetes
– less than 140 mg/dl means normal
An abnormal reading following the OGTT means the patient has impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
Controlling diabetes – treatment is effective and important
All types of diabetes are treatable. Diabetes type 1 lasts a lifetime, there is no known cure. Type 2 usually lasts a lifetime, however, some people have managed to get rid of their symptoms without medication, through a combination of exercise, diet and body weight control.
Patients with type 1 are treated with regular insulin injections, as well as a special diet and exercise.
Patients with Type 2 diabetes are usually treated with tablets, exercise and a special diet, but sometimes insulin injections are also required.
If diabetes is not adequately controlled the patient has a significantly higher risk of developing complications.
Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control
Changing your lifestyle could be a big step toward diabetes prevention — and it’s never too late to start. Consider these tips.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes — the most common type of diabetes — prevention is a big deal. It’s especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you’re at increased risk of diabetes, such as if you’re overweight or you have a family history of the disease.
Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully, becoming more physically active and losing a few extra pounds. It’s never too late to start. Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle now may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage. Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association.
- Get more physical activity
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
- Lose weight
- Lower your blood sugar
- Boost your sensitivity to insulin — which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
Research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes. The greatest benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.
- Get plenty of fibre
It’s rough, it’s tough — and it may help you:
- Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
Foods high in fibre include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
- Go for whole grains
It’s not clear why, but whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains. Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various breads, pasta products and cereals. Look for the word “whole” on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list.
- Lose extra weight
If you’re overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be surprised by how much. Participants in one large study 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.
- Skip fad diets and just make healthier choices
Low-carb diets, the glycaemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first. But their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn’t known, nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan.
When to see your doctor
If you’re older than age 45 and your weight is normal, ask your doctor if diabetes testing is appropriate for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if:
- You’re age 45 or older and overweight
- You’re younger than age 45 and overweight, with one or more additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes
Share your concerns about diabetes prevention with your doctor. He or she will applaud your efforts to keep diabetes at bay, and perhaps offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.
Pentacare wishes you to be healthy and to take control on your sugar level!
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