The theme for World Health Day 2016: “Halt the Rise: Beat Diabetes”
This is a worldwide reminder for a greater focus on prevention and better management of diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes from which 90% of diabetic patients suffer is a largely preventable condition. Obesity, an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise are the primary culprits contributing to the rise of diabetes around the world.
Adopting simple lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, a healthy diet and ensuring normal body weight, are effective in preventing or delaying Type 2 Diabetes by up to 50%.
Treatment of type 2 diabetes is inexpensive if international and national guidelines are followed: as low as under Rs. 50 (less than US$1) per month!
Steps to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes:
- Healthy Weight –
Maintain Body Mass Index (BMI) under 25. The waist measurement should be below 80 cms (31.5 inches) for women and 90 cms (35 inches) for men to be within the safety range. Eat fewer calories and burn energy through physical activity.
- Balanced Diet –
- Daily eat at least five portions of different types of fruits and boiled or steamed vegetables a day.
- Drink plenty of water, at least three to four litres a day during summer.
- Reduce carbohydrate intake. Keep carbs under 1/3rd of total daily food consumption. Eat less rice, food items made of white flour such as biscuits, etc.
- Choose low-fat dairy products, e.g. yoghurt, buttermilk.
- Moderate the consumption of beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads; eat in small amounts.
- Avoid or have less often or in small quantities foods high in fat, salt, and sugar.
- Abandon comfort snacking, or gobbling up goodies late at night when watching TV or reading books.
- Have more home food than restaurant food. Reduce the size of helpings (smaller portions).
- Exercise –
Make exercise a part of everyday life, such as walking to work, walking up the stairs (even in high rise buildings, walk up three or four floors before taking the lift) or cycling, doing household chores like washing clothes by hand, dusting or mopping the floor (moderate-intensity activities).
Swimming, working out in a gym are even better options; make an effort to mix moderate-intensity activities with higher intensity exercises. A minimum net total weekly exercise of at least 150 minutes is essential.
No more being the couch potato. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle, including avoiding watching TV and using a computer or smartphone for long hours. Try doing some form of exercise while watching your favourite TV program.
Better Management of Type 2 Diabetes:
Early Diagnosis –
Early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes is crucial to prevent organ damage and further complications. Get tested if you have risk factors: age over 25, being overweight, sedentary, having a close family member (parent, brother or sister) who has type 2 diabetes, etc.; symptoms of diabetes such as excessive urination, excessive thirst, blurred vision, tiredness, wounds taking too long to heal.
In the early stages, lifestyle changes can be sufficient and medication may not be needed.
Better Treatment –
Eventually, medication may be needed to control blood glucose levels. Initially, this can be tablets and a combination of more than one type of tablet. In most cases, the cost should be low if doctors follow National and International guidelines in prescribing medicines.
To reduce the risk of diabetes-related serious health conditions, doctors may advise patients to take medicines to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol, low-dose aspirin to prevent stroke and medications to prevent diabetic kidney disease.
Type 2 diabetes needs the HbA1c test once every two to three months to know the average blood glucose level. This enables more effective treatment. Other tests may be needed depending on the patient’s condition and medications used.
Remember the basic truth of good health: ‘prevention is better than cure’. So too for Type 2 diabetes. We can beat diabetes by prevention and better management.