Spe­cial Re­port

This World Di­a­betes Day, we show you how…

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

This World Di­a­betes Day, we show you how to re­duce your di­a­betes risk

Your mother had di­a­betes, and you’re afraid that you’ll de­velop it, too. Are there ways to es­ti­mate your risk? Yes, there are. Doc­tors have de­vel­oped ways to iden­tify peo­ple at in­creased risk of di­a­betes. How­ever, di­a­betes isn’t in­evitable even if you’re at in­creased risk. Los­ing weight, getting more ex­er­cise and eat­ing a health­ier diet may help pre­vent or de­lay di­a­betes. In ad­di­tion, med­i­ca­tions may help.

A Su­gar Prob­lem

Di­a­betes (di­a­betes mel­li­tus) is a group of dis­eases that af­fect how your body uses blood su­gar (glu­cose). Glu­cose is vi­tal to your health be­cause it’s your body’s main source of fuel. Nor­mally, a hor­mone se­creted by the pan­creas (in­sulin) helps glu­cose en­ter mus­cle and fat cells. How­ever, if you have di­a­betes, ei­ther your body doesn’t pro­duce enough in­sulin or it’s not fully ef­fec­tive. In­stead of

en­ter­ing your cells, glu­cose lev­els rise in your blood. High blood glu­cose lev­els can dam­age cells and cause long-term com­pli­ca­tions. Blood su­gar is mea­sured by de­ter­min­ing the mil­ligrams of glu­cose in a deciliter of blood (mg/dL). The su­gar in your blood nor­mally rises after meals, but fluc­tu­ates within a nar­row range when fast­ing. The nor­mal range for some­one who has fasted overnight is be­tween 70 and 109 mg/dL. If your blood su­gar con­sis­tently tests 126 mg/dL or higher after overnight fast­ing, you have di­a­betes. Di­a­betes mainly oc­curs in two forms – type 1 (for­merly called ju­ve­nile or in­sulin-de­pen­dent di­a­betes) and type 2 (for­merly called adult-on­set or non­in­sulin­de­pen­dent di­a­betes). Type 2 di­a­betes is far more com­mon than type 1, af­fect­ing be­tween 90% and 95% of peo­ple with di­a­betes who are over 20 years old.

Iden­tify It Early

The dis­ease af­fects adults and chil­dren, yet many may not know they have it. That’s be­cause di­a­betes can de­velop grad­u­ally over many years, of­ten with few or no symp­toms. How­ever, cer­tain fac­tors may in­crease your risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes. Know­ing your risk can help you pre­vent or de­lay the dis­ease. One im­por­tant risk fac­tor is called im­paired fast­ing glu­cose. You have im­paired fast­ing glu­cose if the level of glu­cose in your blood after fast­ing mea­sures be­tween 110 and 125 mg/dL. That’s above nor­mal but not quite di­a­betes. Hav­ing im­paired fast­ing glu­cose is a sign that you’re at high risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes. It also means that you’re at in­creased risk of heart dis­ease and death. In ad­di­tion to im­paired fast­ing glu­cose, other risk fac­tors for di­a­betes in­clude: Age – Your risk of type 2 di­a­betes in­creases as you get older, es­pe­cially past the age of 40. Weight – Be­ing over­weight is one of the main risk fac­tors

for di­a­betes – eight out of 10 peo­ple with type 2 di­a­betes are over­weight. That’s be­cause the more fatty tis­sue you have, the more re­sis­tant your cells be­come to your own in­sulin. Fam­ily His­tory – Your chance of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes in­creases if you have a close rel­a­tive, such as a par­ent or sib­ling, with the dis­ease. In­ac­tiv­ity – The less phys­i­cally ac­tive you are, the greater is your risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes. Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity helps you con­trol your weight, uses up blood su­gar as en­ergy, makes cells more sen­si­tive to in­sulin, in­creases blood flow and im­proves cir­cu­la­tion in even the small­est blood ves­sels. An­other ad­van­tage of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is that it adds mus­cle mass, which im­proves the use of glu­cose. If you have one or more risk fac­tors, you may want to talk with your doc­tor about getting your blood glu­cose level tested. In ad­di­tion, you may want to take steps to con­trol your blood su­gar.

Not In­evitable

There’s noth­ing you can do to change your age or fam­ily his­tory. How­ever, you may be able to con­trol your weight and be­come more ac­tive. Do­ing so can dra­mat­i­cally re­duce your risk of di­a­betes, ac­cord­ing to a study. The study, which fol­lowed par­tic­i­pants over four years, in­volved more than 3,000 peo­ple who were over­weight and had im­paired fast­ing glu­cose – both risk fac­tors for di­a­betes. It was found that peo­ple who in­creased their phys­i­cal ex­er­cise and lost weight were 58% less likely to de­velop di­a­betes than were those who didn’t in­crease their ex­er­cise or lose weight. In ad­di­tion, some drugs may help lower your risk. Peo­ple in the study who took met­formin, a di­a­betes drug that in­hibits the pro­duc­tion and release of glu­cose from the liver, were 31% less likely to de­velop di­a­betes than were peo­ple who didn’t. Some other drugs, such as those used to lower choles­terol (statins) and a class or drugs used to treat high blood pres­sure, also have shown prom­ise in help­ing pre­vent di­a­betes, although fur­ther re­search is needed. Talk with your doc­tor about ways to help lower your risk of di­a­betes.

Cut Down On Calo­ries

In or­der to lose weight, you need to con­sume fewer calo­ries than you burn. Foods high in fat are the most con­cen­trated source of food en­ergy, pro­vid­ing lots of calo­ries but lit­tle nutri­tional value. Lim­it­ing foods high in fat can help you re­duce calo­ries. But re­mem­ber, low-fat and fat-free foods con­tain calo­ries, too. To lose weight, you need to limit calo­ries as well as limit the amount of fat in your diet. To lower calo­ries and cut down on fat: Read the la­bels on pro­cessed foods and check calo­rie counts and serv­ing sizes. Com­pare the amount you eat with the serv­ing size listed on the pack­age. Choose fat-free or low-fat prod­ucts. For ex­am­ple, switch­ing from whole milk to skim milk can make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in your in­take of calo­ries over time. Use only small amounts of canola or olive oil in cook­ing and on sal­ads. Although these oils have as many calo­ries as other fats, they’re health­ier for your heart. Avoid fried foods. In­stead, bake, steam, grill, broil or roast meat, fish and veg­eta­bles. Mar­i­nate meats and use herbs and spices to give them flavour. Buy lean cuts of meat and trim off the ex­cess fat. Re­move the skin from poul­try be­fore eat­ing. Sea­son veg­eta­bles with lemon, lime or herbs rather than but­ter or cheese. Eat fresh fruit and su­gar-free gelatin or pud­dings in­stead of calo­rie-laden pies and cakes. Re­place short­en­ing in baked goods, with ap­ple­sauce or prune purée. Cut down on high-fat and highly pro­cessed starches, such as chips and snack crack­ers, white breads and pasta. In­stead use whole-grain breads and crack­ers, brown rice and whole­wheat pas­tas. Serve smaller por­tions. Us­ing a smaller plate may help ‘fool the eye’.

Take A Walk – It’s Safe And In­ex­pen­sive

Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and aer­o­bic ex­er­cise are the per­fect com­ple­ments to a healthy, low­fat diet for los­ing weight and im­prov­ing health. Walk­ing is one of the eas­i­est ways to get aer­o­bic ex­er­cise. Best yet, it’s an ac­tiv­ity that can help you lose weight and lower your risk of cer­tain dis­eases. Walk­ing for 40 min­utes four times a week is enough to lower car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk and im­prove blood su­gar con­trol. In ad­di­tion, you can cut your risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes in half with one hour a day of brisk walk­ing.

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