By Fang L.K(RN)

Diabetes is a condition when the person has too much glucose (sugar) in his/her blood. Most of the food we eat is broken down into glucose and absorbed into the blood stream. Insulin, a hormone is produced in the pancreas and released into the blood when the amount of glucose in the blood rises. Insulin serves as the helper to move glucose from the blood into the cells for use as energy.

When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes. This causes glucose to build up in your blood. High glucose level in the blood can cause damage to blood vessels, nerves, and organs. This can lead to serious conditions:

• Heart disease
• Kidney failure
• Stroke
• Eye damage – blindness
• Foot problem – serious infections – amputation

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes:

• Frequent urination
• Excessive thirst
• Unexplained weight loss
• Extreme hunger
• Fatigue
• Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
• Slow- healing sores
• Frequent infections such as skin infections

Your chances of having diabetes if you:-

• are overweight
• have family history
• are physically Inactivity
• have high blood pressure
• have low HDL cholesterol and /or high triglycerides
• are a woman who had diabetes during pregnancy
• have stressful lifestyle

Diabetes is a lifelong disease, so it is better to prevent it in the first place. The best way to prevent this problem is to control your blood sugar and take good care of yourself by making simple changes in lifestyle.

1. Exercise regularly.

• Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 or more days of the week.
• Moderate-intensity activities are recommended such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling, gardening or dancing.
• Do activities you really like. The more fun you have, the more likely you will do it each day.

Exercise regularly can:

o Burn calorie – lose weight or maintain healthy weight
o Control blood pressure
o Raise “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
o Improve blood circulation
o Help body to use insulin and absorb glucose more efficiently
o Relieve stress – reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
o Help to sleep better

2. Diet.
Eating a balanced diet and making healthy food choices can help you manage your weight and keep healthy.

• Drink more water instead of juice or soda.
• Cut out the sugar in your tea or coffee.
• Choose high-fiber carbohydrate e.g. brown rice, wholemeal bread.
• Limit red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and avoid processed meat (bacon, hot dogs). Choose leaner meat, skinless chicken, fish, beans or tofu.
• Choose good fats such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats are found in many margarines, fried foods and pre-packaged snacks.
• Choose reduced or low-fat milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream.
• Limit pastries, cakes, puddings, chocolate to special occasions.
• Cut down on salt.
• Add more high-fiber foods into your day e.g. fruits and vegetables.

3. Limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can lead to weight gain, increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

4. No smoking.

5. Get enough sleep, set good sleeping habits.

6. Find ways to relax – to relieve your stress e.g. take a walk, meditation, yoga or tai chi.

7. Regular check-ups. As you get older, it’s a good idea to regularly check your blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

It’s especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you’re at increased risk of diabetes, for example, if you’re overweight or have a family history of the disease and it’s never too late to start.

Reference:
1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/definition/con-20033091
2. http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/home/index.html
3. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Diabetes_Basics
4. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Managing-your-diabetes/Healthy-eating/
5. http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/

*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.

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