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The incidence of diabetes is spreading at an unprecendented rate. Do you know the risks?
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart problems, nerve damage and blindness
Even more alarming is the fact that new cases of diabetes are being added to these ranks at an unprecedented rate.
When food is digested it causes glucose (a major source of fuel for the body) to enter the bloodstream. When this happens the pancreas releases insulin, the hormone needed to deliver the glucose from the blood to muscle, fat and liver cells, where it can be used as fuel.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin (or any at all) or when the body can’t use the insulin properly.
Left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can lead to:
Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese dramatically increases the risk of developing diabetes.
Butt out. The risk of developing diabetic complications is much higher in smokers.
Get physical. Exercise causes the body to use up blood sugar and improves its response to insulin. It also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while helping with weight loss and the maintenance of a healthy weight.
Eat a balanced diet. Focus on eating whole, high-fibre, low-fat foods, including legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats and fish. Choose polyunsaturated fats found in salmon, nuts, flax or olive oil, and avoid processed foods. Choose foods with a lower glycemic index (GI); e.g., choose whole-grain bread over white bread. Foods low in GI carbohydrates produce smaller changes in blood glucose and insulin levels.
Limit alcohol. An average of one drink for women or two drinks for men per day is considered moderate consumption.
Cut the caffeine. There’s evidence that caffeine increases blood glucose levels. If you love coffee, try switching to decaf.
Learn to manage stress. Stress may contribute to elevated blood pressure, which may increase risk factors in diabetics.
Go for regular check-ups (especially after age 40) with your doctor, dentist and eye specialist. Early detection often makes the problem easier to treat.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.