Invest in your health to deal with diabetes
“People may put off seeking help for people with diabetes, thinking they won’t be able to fully enjoy their favorite foods or activities such as family get-togethers,” says Dr Joanne St John, a primary care physician in London who specializes in diabetes.
“But it’s about moderation and taking simple steps to take care of ourselves to reduce the risk of harmful complications if you have diabetes or reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.
Blood sugar levels are regulated by a hormone called insulin that is made in the pancreas. If you are not doing your Mob properly, our bodies may not be producing any or enough insulin, causing your blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose, to rise.
“People sometimes think that type 2 diabetes is a more advanced form of type 1, but that’s not the case,” says Dr. St. John. “Both lead to higher blood glucose levels but what disrupts the body’s ability to produce or manage insulin is a different underlying process.”
- Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease, a long-term autoimmune disorder, usually diagnosed in childhood and unrelated to lifestyle. The immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, so it does not produce the insulin needed to control blood sugar levels.
- Type 2 diabetes is more commonHere, the insulin in our body is not doing its job properly or the pancreas is not producing enough of it. Unlike type 1, it is associated with lifestyle and is usually detected later in life. It can sometimes be prevented or reversed if caught early.
“There is a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in our population, but it is not entirely clear why,” says Dr. St. John. “It’s likely to be a combination of things including your lifestyle, age, and physiological factors. Your risk is also higher if you have a blood relative with diabetes, which is more common in people with certain conditions such as severe mental illness, learning disability, or a history of high blood pressure.”
We can’t change our age or family history, of course, but we can do something about our lifestyle.
Sugar isn’t the only problem
“People ask ‘why do I have diabetes when I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods,’” explains Dr. St. John, “but it’s not just about the sugar.” “Yes, we refer to blood glucose, or blood sugar levels, but what is very important is We weigh.
“Everyone has an ideal weight, and as we go beyond that, so does the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your optimal weight will be individual to you.
“Think about your meals – are they balanced” It’s great that we have our favorite foods but they should be in moderation. How much will you eat and how often” Foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt increase visceral fat, the most obvious of which is the thickening of the waist that we sometimes see as we age and also contribute to cardiovascular disease, including heart disease.
“And move more, use the stairs not the elevator, get off the bus one or two times earlier, walk instead of drive. Start being active, garden, walk, dance, or do something else you enjoy.”
Improving your diet and being active will help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but free NHS support is also available. If you are aged 18 or over and have obesity and diabetes, high blood pressure or both, ask your GP or pharmacist about online NHS digital weight management. Dr St John adds: “If your blood glucose levels are higher than expected and you are not diabetic, ask your GP about the NHS Healthy Diabetes Prevention Programme.”
“It takes about nine months but it’s worth it and more than 1.2 million people have already been referred.” Getting expert help can make it easier to make those small positive changes to your diet, weight and physical activity that can dramatically reduce your risk of developing diabetes from Type 2 and have a major impact on your future health.”
Invest in your health
With rates of type 2 diabetes on the rise, you can empower yourself by:
- Use the Diabetes UK Risk Score tool to find out your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – visit the Diabetes UK website at www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore
- Contact your doctor’s office as soon as possible if the tool shows that you are at medium or high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and/or have possible signs of diabetes. These include tiredness, excessive thirst, the need to urinate often especially at night, cuts and scrapes that don’t heal or frequent infections, blurred vision, weight loss, and unusual skin rashes or itching.
“You may have a blood test to measure your actual blood glucose,” adds Dr. St. John. “This will be used to see if you are, are at risk or could be described as ‘pre-diabetic’ or have diabetes.” It is important to diagnose it as early as possible because it can get worse if left untreated. You’ll also be offered routine checkups to help you manage your condition safely and improve your quality of life. Because diabetes is a leading cause of preventable vision loss, if you are 12 years of age or older, you will be offered a regular diabetic eye exam which can identify early signs of eye problems.
You are also more likely to become seriously ill from common viruses and infections, such as the flu or COVID-19. If you haven’t received your first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, there is still time. Book now by calling 119 or scanning the QR code.
People with diabetes may also be invited to get their winter flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, as was the case last fall.
Anyone with a learning disability should be listed on their GP’s Learning Disabilities Register and offered an annual health check from the age of 14 to identify any problems early on.
Safety in Ramadan
“Thinking about your health and wellness before Ramadan also helps you enter the holy month in the best possible way and make positive changes for the future as well,” says Dr Salman Waqar, GP and President of the British Muslim Medical Association.
“If you have diabetes or any other long-term medical condition, please speak to your health professional before Ramadan because not everyone can fast safely.”
Things to discuss include:
- Whether fasting is safe for you, or you need to change the timing or type of your medication.
- More wholesome and healthy food options to eat during Ramadan.
- Finding a sleep routine that works for you, so you’re not left struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
- Quit smoking – using nicotine patches does not break your fast and can help reduce cravings during and after the month.
- Being more active during Ramadan, such as taking a walk in the evening