Diabetes: The Facts

Recent data suggest that diabetes affects approximately 1 in 35 people globally and it’s estimated that by 2030 1 in 22 people will have diabetes.* Despite the ever increasing global impact of diabetes, individuals can reduce their risk through simple lifestyle measures such as eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping active.

Diabetes is a condition that impacts the pancreas, an organ that produces insulin in order to moderate our bodies’ glucose levels. There are two main types; type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas no longer works sufficiently to control glucose levels and so it is important for people to self-administer insulin injections regularly.
  • Type 2 diabetes affects your pancreas over time — at first, the pancreas’ function may just be impaired and modifications to diet, or glucose-moderating tablets can be prescribed to control sugar levels. If glucose levels are not well controlled, this treatment may not be sufficient and external insulin is required.

Regardless of which type of diabetes one is diagnosed with, raised glucose levels in the blood affects other organs of the body over time. Poor blood glucose control can cause retinopathy (eye disease), chronic kidney disease and neuropathy (nerve disease). It can also cause hardening of the arteries which, in turn, increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and peripheral arterial disease.

Diabetes is on the rise because of the global ageing population, and the increase in the number of people that are overweight or obese. Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. However, there are things that one can do to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Some risk factors such as age, ethnicity or family history are things that you cannot change.

On the other hand, one can focus on eating healthily and staying active which not only reduces your risk of diabetes but also the risk of other conditions. Eating healthily simply means eating a varied and balanced diet. This includes eating fruit and vegetables, a mixture of starchy foods, proteins and fibre and reducing levels of fat, sugar and salt. Before deciding on a diet one should take into consideration all circumstances and personal factors. Aiming for 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week is ideal. This can be as simple as a brisk walk to work — any activity that increases your breathing and heart rate.

Whatever changes you make to a diet and activity levels, incremental, small changes can help make your lifestyle modifications more sustainable.

Here are some links you may find useful:

There are also various tools available to help living with diabetes. mySugr, for example, is a digital logbook to keep track of your daily diabetes therapies and can provide analysis on trends in your data.

You can find out more about mySugr via Your.MD’s OneStop Health platform — a curated network of trusted health service providers and products.

Your.MD is free and available on iOS and Android apps, popular messenger platforms (such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, Skype, Slack and Telegram), and via the web.