How to prevent Type 2 Diabetes
There’s no denying it, research has shown time and again that our poor diets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles are contributing to the prevalence of a whole host of chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes.
While there is currently no cure for diabetes, it's not all bad news. There are many positive changes you can make that will reduce your chance of developing this condition.
In this article, we will shed some light on what type 2 diabetes is and what lifestyle changes you can make to prevent its onset.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic illness – it is ongoing and has no cure. It is characterised by high blood sugar levels caused by problems with processing or producing insulin, the hormone that regulates how our bodies use sugar.
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in adults over the age of 45 and is closely linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Untreated or poorly managed type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of a range of serious health problems including blindness, heart attack, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and nerve disease.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes vary widely from person to person and can include:
· Excessive thirst and hunger
· Frequent urination
· Blurry vision
· Sores or cuts that won’t heal
· Weight gain
· Mood swings
· Leg cramps
· Skin infections
Some facts about diabetes in Australia
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in this country. If the prevalence of diabetes in Australia continues to rise at the same rate, more than 3 million people over the age of 25 will have the disease by 2025. Here are some more facts about diabetes in Australia:
· 1.7 million Australians are living with diabetes
· 280 Australians develop diabetes every day
· Diabetes is one of the top ten causes of death in Australia
· The total cost of diabetes in Australia estimated at $14.6 billion per year
· Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of all diabetes
· Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes
· 27.2% of Victorians aged over 55 are living with type 2 diabetes
Sources: Diabetes Australia > diabetes in Australia; Diabetes Australia > reports > Diabetes: the silent pandemic and its impact on Australia; and health.vic.gov.au > public health > population health > health status of Victorians > survey data and reports > Victorian Population Health Survey > Victorian Population Health Survey 2011-12
What is causing the rise in type 2 diabetes?
Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise are major contributors to the increase in type 2 diabetes.
Growing up in my house junk food was rare. Mum preferred to serve us fresh fruit or a wholesome home baked treat. After school we’d jump on our bikes and ride up and down the streets, exploring the neighbourhood. We’d take walks as a family after dinner and spend weekends playing sports or at the beach.
Today people's overscheduled lives are impacting on the time they have to prepare and eat healthy foods and to incorporate exercise as a regular part of their routines.
Processed snack foods and ready-to-eat meals are so available and affordable that they’re now the norm. And the big businesses that sell us these foods have almost unlimited PR power and marketing money - so fresh, healthy foods are being squeezed from supermarket shelves.
Considering this, it’s no wonder that lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes are on the rise.
Preventing type 2 diabetes
Understanding your personal risk factors and making changes to reduce these is the most sensible way to minimise your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. You can calculate your risk factor by completing the Diabetes Australia online test.
According to Diabetes Australia, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reduced by up to 58 per cent by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: aim for a BMI under 24.9, and a waist measurement under 94 cm if you’re a man or 80 cm if you’re a woman.
- Exercising regularly: 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week can have a significant effect on overall health.
- Eating a variety of healthy foods: include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and limit food that is high in sugar and saturated fats.
- Managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels: reduce the sodium in your diet and eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Limiting alcohol: the current guidelines suggest drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day.
- Quitting smoking: this change will have both immediate and long-term positive impacts on your health.
At our Retirement Communities Australia (RCA) retirement villages, our Active Health programs are focused on promoting the optimum health and well-being of our residents to prevent the onset of lifestyle associated chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes.
Where can you go to get support and find out more about type 2 diabetes
Diabetes Australia - diabetesaustralia.com.au
Life! – lifeprogram.org.au
My Aged Care – myagedcare.gov.au
Better Health Victoria - betterhealth.vic.gov.au