For every 100 people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, at least 25 may be undiagnosed and living with complications of the illness. But did you know that you can delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes?
Poorly managed and undiagnosed diabetes damages the body and can lead to serious health conditions:
- Kidney failure
- Heart attacks
But the good news is, simple lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%!
As part of National Diabetes Week, we’re going to share our tips for how you can reduce your risk:
Tip 1: Move it!
Why? Regular exercise can assist with reducing other risk factors such as being overweight or high blood pressure, but crucially it helps to lower blood glucose levels and boosts your body’s sensitivity to insulin, countering insulin resistance which is one of the key issues with type 2 diabetes.
How? you can make simple choices that increase your physical activity such as walking to the shop instead of driving or going for a walk with a friend to catch up instead of a phone call. Little and often is better than not at all – it doesn’t have to be a marathon, chose something you enjoy, avoid sitting for long periods and be a bit active every day.
Next steps? Knowing how much to exercise and even where to start can be daunting and people with diabetes should consult with a trained health professional like their GP or an Exercise Physiologist (EP) before starting or increasing activity levels.
Tip 2: Eat well
Why? A healthy diet provides your bodies essential nutrients that it needs to function properly and maintains a healthy weight. Eating certain types of food will help maintain regular blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar levels help reduce complications of diabetes and make you feel better.
How? What you need each day will vary according to age, health and activities levels. But there some general tips that are good for everyone, such as: chose water- most other drinks will contain sugar in some form. Reduce the amount of packaged or processed food you consume- they are often full of added sugar, fat and salt. Planning ahead – we often choose unhealthy options for speed and convenience but planning ahead and taking your own food can be healthier and cheaper.
Next steps? Knowledge is power and the key to understanding what you need. Speaking with a dietitian or diabetes educator can unlock the not so mysterious world of healthy eating and make the right choices easy to choose.
Tip 3: Manage stress
Why? Stress- physical or mental, creates a response from the body. Your body increases your blood glucose levels- ready to deal with the ‘stress’ and this raised level increases your risk of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. When stressed, some people also turn to unhealthy options to ease stress such as eating, drinking or smoking, which add to risk factors and complications associated with diabetes.
How? Addressing or managing what stresses you is a personal journey. Asking for help from friends or professionals can assist you to unpack what’s going on and make changes to manage or remove the things that cause you stress. If you know what causes stress, you can make plans to deal with the situation or set goals to help you more healthily manage it, such as taking time out to have fun, destress with yoga or mindfulness or exercising to blow off steam.
Next Steps? Not everyone has friends or family to discuss stress with or sometimes they may even be the cause! Professionals such as social workers, counsellors or your GP can help you address stress and its health impacts. ACH Group has experienced social workers than can help you work through issues and plan to reduce or manage stress. ACH group also offers a range of exercise groups and social experiences that can be a positive action, as part of your stress management plan.
Tip 4: Sleep on it!
Why? We all know the body needs sleep to rest and repair itself. Lack of sleep can also cause problems with concentration, reduce our immunity and affect hormone levels. Due to hormone changes, ongoing sleep deprivation can affect blood glucose levels, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and making diabetes management more difficult. Medical studies have also shown lack of sleep can also lead to unhealthy food choices and increased overall calorie intake.
How? Many factors such as stress, alcohol affect sleep with most adults needing about 8 hours a night. Some people can function on less, but they might be not at their best. Creating a set bedtime routine can help lock in good quality sleep, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, being active during the day and reducing stimulations before bed, turning off TV and putting your mobile devices away. A bedtime routine can help our brains recognise when it’s time to sleep, therefore, your brain sees those activities as a precursor to falling asleep.
Nest steps? If you are concerned about your sleep, you should see your GP.
Tip 5. Look after yourself.
Why? Good general physical and mental health will help you prevent type 2 diabetes or better manage it. There is no one solution, lots of small positive actions can help better manage glucose levels and reduce complications of diabetes. Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t and remember it’s never too late to make a change.
How? Understand what your risk factors are and how you can change them- read information booklets like the Diabetes SA Good Health Guide. If you have diabetes develop a network of health professionals and experts who can help you be your best. Look after your mental health as well as your physical, don’t underestimate how closely success in both areas is linked.
Next steps? If you are concerned about your health, see your GP and raise your concerns or ask for a check-up. If you’re not sure what you need, speak to a diabetes educator or ACH Group health professional to help you get started. If you know what you need, for example seeing a podiatrist to help keep your feet healthy or seeing an exercise physiologist to start an exercise program.