Preventing diabetes

Pre-diabetes and diabetes affect more people than you might think.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine showed that 90 per cent of people who had pre-diabetes in 2005-2006 weren’t even aware of it. That takes into account that 30 per cent of the American adult population was pre-diabetic at the time.

Diabetes, a chronic disease in which glucose in the blood is not properly regulated because of problems with the pancreas and insulin production, is a risk factor for heart disease, nerve damage and kidney disease.

Being pre-diabetic means that your blood glucose levels are high, but that they are not high enough to be categorized as type two diabetes.

The Canadian Diabetes Association states, “more than 3 million Canadians have diabetes, 90 per cent [of these people] have Type 2 diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes develops due to lifestyle choices and occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.

The causes of type one diabetes are unknown, but it occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin at all.

Type 1 diabetes may not be preventable, but we can prevent, or at least delay or decrease the intensity of, Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is often linked to being overweight, sedentary and having a nutrient-deficient diet.

Losing weight and maintaining that loss will significantly decrease your risk. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day (even if it is just going for a walk) and eat lean sources of protein, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.

To ensure that your blood glucose levels remain stable throughout the day, eat small snacks or meals frequently. This will also keep your energy levels up. Rather than choosing candy or chips, eat a small portion of nuts. Dry-roasted or raw almonds and walnuts, for example, contain healthy fats and release sugar into the bloodstream more slowly than junk food.

If you are looking for the flavour of a chip without the negative health effects, try out local Manitoba-based Yumpeez; these organic roasted split peas are full of protein and the snack currently comes in barbecue and dill pickle flavours. Other beans, lentils and legumes also contribute to healthy blood sugar levels.

Even people who are not at a high risk for developing diabetes should follow the above preventative measures. Whether it is to decrease the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes or to improve the health of your lifestyle, these measures will greatly benefit your body.

Possible symptoms of diabetes include lack of energy, extreme thirst, frequent urination, a poor immune system and blurred vision. Because 285 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is a good idea to check with your doctor if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself.

Sagan Morrow writes a health and wellness blog.

Published in Volume 64, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 11, 2010)

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