November is Diabetes Awareness Month – a reminder to get your blood sugar levels checked to find out if you have diabetes! Over the last couple of years, the number of people getting Type 2 Diabetes has increased in South Africa at an alarming rate – in fact, about 3.5 million people currently suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. Regionally, diabetes figures have grown faster in in Africa than anywhere else in the world.
Many people are unaware that they are already in the pre-diabetes phase – the stage where your blood sugar levels are too high, but you don’t have Type 2 Diabetes yet. This is mostly because of poor diets and making unhealthy lifestyle choices (like not exercising). Don’t worry, a simple blood test will pick this up and, if you make lifestyle and diet changes, you can manage your sugar levels and ensure that you do not get Type 2 Diabetes.
This is why it’s so important to get your blood sugar levels tested!
Are You At Risk Of Developing Diabetes?
It’s important to know the signs. You are at risk if:
- You get your blood sugar levels tested and it shows that it’s higher than normal
- You are overweight or obese
- An immediate family member has Type 2 Diabetes
- You don’t get a lot of exercise
- You carry most of your weight around your belly or Ukhamba
- Most of your diet consists of unhealthy foods that are high in sugar and unhealthy fats such as greasy take-away food, chips, sweets, biscuits, potatoes, pap, slap chips, white rice, white pasta, and so on
- You are over the age of 45. The older you are, the higher your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. However, research shows that because of unhealthy eating habits and a lack of exercise, more and more young people are getting the disease.
- You are pregnant. If you get diabetes during pregnancy, this is known as gestational diabetes.
Is Your Body Telling You Something?
Be on the lookout for these early signs of diabetes, and be sure to get your blood sugar levels tested as soon as possible:
always thirsty and even if you have something to drink, your thirst does not go away.
to go to the toilet to urinate (or pee) often.
blurry or unsteady sight.
mood swings or periods of being very sad, angry or upset.
tingling sensations or numbness in hands or feet.
feel very tired or worn out.
battle to heal and you get skin infections.
from continuous yeast infections, if you are a woman.
noticed a scaly, itchy rash on the tip of the penis, if you are a man.
I Think I Have Diabetes. What Do I Do Now?
The methods for lowering your risk and managing Type 2 Diabetes are almost the same, and it all comes down to making defining and long-term lifestyle changes:
- Cut refined carbohydrates (white rice, mealie meal, pap, white bread, slap chips, potatoes) from your diet.
- Don’t put sugar in your tea and coffee.
- Don’t eat breakfast cereals with sugar.
- Don’t eat sweets and biscuits.
- Don’t drink sugary soft drinks, cordials or too much fruit juice. Rather stick to water.
- Avoid heavily processed and fatty foods like slap chips, greasy burgers, pies, chips, deep fried food and vetkoek.
- Get regular exercise and keep your weight healthy.
- Drink about 2 litres of water throughout the day.
- Increase your daily fibre intake by eating whole wheat or brown bread, and cereals that contain barley, wheat or oats. Snack on fruits (only three a day) and nuts, increase the amount of vegetables you eat, and eat brown rice instead of white.
- If you’re a smoker, quit smoking. If you smoke and have Type 2 Diabetes, your risk of having heart disease is greater.
- To be safe, don’t drink alcohol as this can make your blood sugar rise. Your doctor may tell you that you can have certain kinds of alcohol in very small amounts but if you have not spoken to your doctor, it is best and safest to not drink alcohol at all.
Is Your Body Telling You Something?
Sadly, if Type 2 Diabetes is not treated, you can die. This is because your body cannot cope with high levels of sugar and you might go into a coma. There are also many other serious issues that could occur including kidney damage, nerve damage, blindness, heart disease or strokes.
You can manage Type 2 Diabetes and live a normal life, but it takes hard work and dedication in the long run. For more information on building healthy habits, get in touch with us:
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