One person every five minutes develops diabetes, that is 280 Australians every day. For every person diagnosed with diabetes, there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day. Poor control of blood glucose means a higher risk of developing diabetes complications. Diabetes is associated with complications affecting the feet, eyes, kidneys, and heart. Adults with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have heart disease than adults without diabetes.
Diabetes in pregnancy is common, affecting about 1 in 20 pregnancies. Mothers with pre-existing diabetes are more likely to have delivery complications, hypertension and longer stay in hospital compared to mothers without having diabetes in pregnancy.
How do you know that you are at risk?
You can check your fasting blood/plasma glucose level to determine the levels of sugar you have in your body. Fasting means after not having anything to eat or drink (except water) for at least 8 hours before the test. This test is usually done first thing in the morning, before breakfast.
If you do not fast and want to check your blood glucose randomly, the level ≥200 mg/dl indicates risk of diabetes. If the blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, the condition is known as prediabetes.
How can you prevent diabetes?
The majority of the diabetes is type 2, which can be prevented by addressing the risk factors. Type 1 diabetes develops due to immune disorder of the body and can’t be prevented, but can be treated accordingly. People at risk of type 2 diabetes can delay and even prevent the condition by maintaining the following habits:
- Have low carbohydrate diet
- Increase high fibre diet
- Drink water instead of beverages
- Monitor and control your serve size: use smaller plates, eat slowly
- Exercise regularly: brisk walking, running, biking, dancing, hiking, swimming
- Lose your weight, if you are overweight
- Control your stress
- Monitor blood sugar
- Get quality sleep
If your doctors advised you to have medication to control your blood sugar, have those regularly to prevent further complications.
What should you consume more to lower your blood sugar?
Increase your ‘heart healthy’ diet. Scientific evidence suggests that the following food items can lower your blood sugar:
- Vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains
- Avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil
- Blackberries and blueberries
- Coffee, chia seeds, barley, lemons, sweet potatoes
- Apple cider vinegar