Are you at risk of diabetes?
It’s a silent disease, but making healthy lifestyle changes may ward off the onset of type 2 diabetes and its subsequent complications, writes Diabetes NSW & ACT dietician Caroline Clark
CURRENTLY THERE are 1.2 million Australians living with diabetes and approximately another 500,000 are walking around with type 2 diabetes but don’t know.
Diabetes is a silent chronic disease and symptoms often go unnoticed. In fact, many people don’t detect any symptoms for several years.
Unfortunately, if detected late or managed poorly once detected, diabetes can lead to complications such as nerve damage that affects our hands and feet, and also eye and kidney damage. Not a good combination for drivers.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is when our blood glucose (sugar) levels do not go back to healthy levels after eating. We need the glucose from foods to get into our cells to give us energy to move and for our brains to work; glucose is the preferred fuel of the brain.
Glucose from our food moves into our cells after digestion via our blood stream thanks to insulin. Insulin is a hormone released from our pancreas when we digest food.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when our insulin does not work like it used to and we need to produce more, or when we’ve produced more insulin for some time and the pancreas starts to wear out. Having too much glucose in the blood stream for long periods of time causes the complications of diabetes.
Early detection of type 2 diabetes helps to improve and save lives. If you are over the age of 45 or have a family history of type 2 diabetes, completing the AUSDRISK tool (diabetesnsw.com.au/ausd-risk-tool) is an easy first step to start taking charge of your health.
The AUSDRISK tool works out your risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next five years. You can complete the assessment online: diabetesnsw.com.au/ausd-risk-tool/
If you score 6 or higher with the AUSDRISK assessment tool make sure you book an appointment to speak with your doctor to discuss the score further.
DIABETES TYPE 2 SYMPTOMS
Type 2 diabetes is commonly (but not always) diagnosed at a later age, sometimes signs are dismissed as a part of ‘getting older’. Look out for symptoms such as: • Being excessively thirsty • Passing more urine • Feeling tired and lethargic • Always feeling hungry • Having cuts that heal slowly • Itching, skin infections • Blurred vision • Gradually putting on weight • Mood swings • Headaches • Feeling dizzy • Leg cramps
REDUCING THE RISK
What can you do to prevent diabetes and or reduce the risk of diabetes complications once diagnosed?
There are several risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, some that we have no control over such as our age and genetic background, and others that we do have some control over.
Making healthy lifestyle changes such as improving our eating and physical activity habits and quitting smoking can have a huge impact on the prevention of diabetes and reducing the risk of complications once diagnosed.
Healthier lifestyle changes you can start today include: • Enjoy an extra serve of vegetables and or legumes each day, for example: • ½ cup of cooked green or orange vegetables ( broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and zucchini) • ½ cup of dried or canned beans,
peas or lentils • 1 cup of salad greens • Switch from refined, highlyprocessed breads and cereals to higher fibre, less processed types eg: wholegrain breads and cereals (oats and untoasted muesli) • Switch from unhealthy saturated fats found in butter, cream and fatty meats to healthier unsaturated fats found in olive and canola oil, avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds
and nut/seed pastes • Drink more water instead of calorie-rich drinks like soft drinks or alcoholic drinks • Take a 10-minute walk three times
a day • Eat a healthy breakfast such as wholegrain cereals or avocado on wholegrain bread/toast • Enjoy meals away from the TV or
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE?
For more healthy lifestyle tips and information on diabetes head to the Diabetes NSW & ACT website www.diabetesnsw.com.au or call the HELPLINE on 1300 342 238 to speak with a health professional.
“Making healthy lifestyle changes … can have a huge impact”
Cutting back on these food types may help stave off diabetes 2