National Diabetes Awareness Week: 14th-20th July

Diabetes has been taking both the world and Australia by storm over the last several decades. It’s estimated that over 1 million Aussies live with this life-threatening and chronic disease. But why is it on the rise and what can the average Joe do to prevent becoming another diabetes statistic? Read on to learn more. 

Type 1 diabetes affects fewer people than type 2, and is an autoimmune condition where the pancreas is irreversibly damaged. Type 2 is the most common and develops as insulin becomes less and less effective at drawing glucose out of the blood and into the cells for energy. The resulting high level of sugar in the blood is dangerous for the body and can lead to many downstream complications.  

Dietary changes and inactivity are the most likely culprits of the growing proportion of this disease according to experts. It can take years for this condition to build up. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling thirsty all the time

  • Increased urination

  • Fatigue

  • Slow healing wounds, especially on lower limbs

  • Weight gain

  • Headaches

  • Leg cramps

  • Vision problems

National Diabetes week from the 14th to 20th July, is the time to get us all talking about awareness, management and prevention of this disease. With scary complications including loss of eyesight, limb, kidney disease, cardiovascular issues, and stroke--it’s a conversation worth having. 

Let’s get into what steps you can take to help prevent the onset of diabetes.

Know where you stand.

Understanding your predisposition to developing diabetes can motivate you to do more to prevent it. Testing your fasting blood sugar levels is also easy to do and covered by Medicare. So speak to your doctor if you’re curious or concerned. 

Eat whole foods. 

Opt for whole foods instead of processed. Limit saturated fat intake and added sugars. Focus on foods that are full of fibre and have low GI. See our article on high and low GI foods to learn more. 

Move more.

Physical exercise helps your cells take in more glucose and can help keep you at a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes. 

Quit smoking. 

Smoking increases your chance of developing diabetes, along with many other health conditions. 

Understand insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance occurs as dietary fat accumulates around our cells and blocks insulin from  letting sugar into our cells and out of our blood. As these fat particles make our cells less insulin sensitive, the pancreas needs to make more and work harder to compensate. 

Fortunately, there is mounting evidence that insulin resistance can be improved and, in some cases, even reversed with diets focused on naturally low fat, whole plant foods. That’s empowering news, so don’t despair!

Use this week to check in with yourself: What changes can you make today in your diet and activity level? Are you willing to cut back on drinking and chuck the cigarettes? Lifestyle can go a long way to preventing chronic illness, and it all starts with the choices you make today!