November is Diabetes Awareness Month
One of the most prevalent chronic diseases affecting almost 10 percent of Canadians is diabetes.
Many people have the impression that diabetes is a disease only for the overweight and under-exercised; however, diabetes can affect anyone.
In fact, the risk factors for diabetes are becoming so extensive that soon it will include things like “having a stressful job” or “having children.”
Diabetes became a temporary reality for me during my second pregnancy. For several months, I had to repeatedly check my blood sugars, fret over my food intake and take insulin injections. Needless to say, it is a condition for which I empathize.
There are different types of diabetes, but they all relate to having higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.
Over time, this can have negative effects on all your vessels and put you at higher risk for heart attacks, kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage.
Treating diabetes is time-consuming and expensive. Fifty-seven percent of Canadians with diabetes reported they cannot adhere to prescribed treatment due to the high out-of-pocket cost of needed medications, devices and supplies.
The good news about diabetes is that the most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, may be prevented or at least delayed in many people.
One of the most convincing studies included 3,234 overweight Americans of varying ethnicities diagnosed with pre-diabetes, a condition when your blood sugar levels are a little high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetic.
The group who made lifestyle changes (reduced calories and saturated fat and performed 150 minutes of activity per week, aiming to lose five to seven per cent of their body weight), reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 per cent compared to the group who did nothing.
The lifestyle change group also outperformed the medication group.
Having a healthy lifestyle does not preclude you from getting diabetes; however, it significantly decreases your odds.
Making changes to better sustain our health is not always easy. The daily grind of choosing nutritious foods and getting our exercise can sometimes feel futile.
However, while we do not fully understand what causes diabetes, we do know that these things are important in preventing, delaying and treating diabetes.
-Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.