Diabetes: The Facts
Did you know that close to 350 million people in the world have diabetes?
In South Africa, everyone knows somebody that has diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there were more than 2 million cases of diagnosed diabetes in 2015. Another alarming fact is that 1 in 4 adults go undiagnosed with the disease. So, what is the number really like in our country?
Surprisingly, though it is this common, many of us know only the most basic information about this disease.
“What causes diabetes?”
“Uhm… It’s something that revolves around the sugar in our bodies.”
Yes, this is true. But it is so much more complex –, and serious – than this.
November is World Diabetes Month and with the numbers of this chronic disease being so high, it might be a good idea to get informed and know the facts. It could save your life, or the life of a close family member or close friend.
What is diabetes?
Well, there are predominately two kinds: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is sadly, something that usually develops in children or young adults, and is the more aggressive of the two types. The immune system starts attacking the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, and the pancreas then eventually stops producing insulin altogether.
Insulin is a very important hormone that the body produces and it used to transform sugar in the blood into energy. Without it, sugar starts to build up in the blood.
Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1. This type of diabetes occurs when there is an irregularity in the production of insulin in your body. It is more common for people over the age of 35 to get this type of diabetes, but many younger cases have been reported as well.
The body is able to produce some of its own insulin, but often it’s just not enough. Or, in some cases, the body just resists the effects of the insulin that is being produced.
This type of diabetes is often associated with people that have an unhealthier lifestyle than others, and who are overweight. Though Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured once diagnosed, it can be managed with a strict, balanced diet, and an active lifestyle. Sometimes, when this is not enough, you may be put on diabetes medication or insulin therapy.
Managing and preventing diabetes
Though people living with Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured of the disease, when treated properly, they able to live normal, healthy, productive lives.
With regard to Type 2 diabetes though, it is said that up to 70% of its cases can be prevented, or delayed, by just adopting a healthy and active lifestyle.
• Improve your diet to include lean meats, whole grains and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
• Exercise regularly to boost your heart health, lower your blood sugar, and help that produced insulin in your body to work better.
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