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

Owner Driver - - OWNER // DRIVER - CARO­LINE CLARK is a di­eti­cian with Di­a­betes NSW & ACT. For more in­for­ma­tion on Caro­line and Di­a­betes NSW & ACT, see the web­site at www. di­a­

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.


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 (di­a­ 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: di­a­

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.


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


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



For more healthy life­style tips and in­for­ma­tion on di­a­betes head to the Di­a­betes NSW & ACT web­site www.di­a­ 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

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