Diabetes Mellitus is said to exist if there is a persistent high level of sugar in the blood; it can be type 1 or type 2. Type 1 is found in the young (children/teenagers) and due to heredity in most cases; the person does not produce insulin.
Type 2 is found in adults and is due mainly to resistance to insulin or low level of insulin production.
Untreated or poorly treated diabetes especially Type 2 has well known complications some of which are mentioned in this piece but will be discussed in details in further write-ups. They can be reduced by adequate control of the condition, regular check-up and prompt treatment of any complications as they arise.
However, it is better to prevent diabetes mellitus as prevention is said to be better than cure. Simple care measures listed below can reduce your risk of diabetes and its complications:
1. Maintain appropriate body weight
Overweight and obesity increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing body resistance to insulin. Therefore we must maintain our appropriate weight by calculating our Body Mass Index (BMI). It should be between 18 and 25.
We can maintain appropriate weight by taking appropriate calorie diet which is about 60 per-cent in form of carbohydrate, 25 per-cent in form of fat (mostly unsaturated fat) and 15 per-cent in form of protein. The diet should also be rich in fruits and vegetables.
2. Maintain a healthy diet
Eat fibre rich diet which contains vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and grains (cereals); these increase the bulk of our waste and aid bowel movements. Apart from fibre, these foods also contain vitamins and minerals which help to build up our ability to fight against diseases and are also said to reduce the rate of some cancers. Daily intake of fruits and vegetables is therefore advised. Adequate intake of water is also well advised.
Red meat (beef, lamb and pork) and process meat (sausage, bacon, ham and salami) are said to contain a lot of saturated fat which can lead to higher level of cholesterol and body fat.
Food fibre can be insoluble or soluble; soluble fibre food includes beans, oatmeal and apples, these are said to reduce the absorption of glucose in the intestines.
3. Regular exercise
Regular exercise helps to burn off excess calories and thus helps to keep your weight in check. Regular exercise reduces the risk of diabetes by making the body more sensitive to insulin, resulting in less glucose in the blood.
About 30 minutes a day of physical exercise, five days a week is advised.
4. Avoid stress
Stress is a natural occurrence, no one passes through life without stressful periods, this could be due to deadlines, workload, relationships, natural disasters, death of loved ones, divorce and financial commitments. There are so many stressors in the society, some of these life events can be prevented, you can prepare your mind for some and weather the storm while the others could be ameliorated by self-control in case of unexpected natural and financial disasters.
Stress increases the risk of developing diabetes and also impedes effective control of the condition. This is more likely in pre-diabetics, people who have borderline blood sugar levels.
Try to avoid stress inducing thought and feelings. Organise your life with a daily do-list. Express yourself if the need arises instead of bottling up. Compromise when necessary but also take charge of your life. Taking holidays, listening to music, warm baths, reading interesting novels help to relax the mind and body.
5. Avoiding smoking/ alcohol intake
Smoking remains the most important preventable cause of illness and death, the estimated number of deaths per annum from smoking is over 4.5 million with more of this occurring in the developed world, more men die from smoking than women.
Cigarette smoking increases the risk of some complications associated with diabetes such as blood vessel disease and eye damage, therefore to ward off the complications of diabetes, do not smoke.
Virtually every organ of the body can be affected by heavy alcohol intake with many deaths resulting from accidents, respiratory failure and breathing in of vomit.
It is also associated with diabetes mellitus, obesity, cancer of the throat, of the liver and many others.
6. Prevent infections
Infections increase the resistance of our body to insulin by instigating the production of insulin antagonists in the body. Personal including hand hygiene is therefore key. Care of the feet, skin and mouth is essential.
Our hands are responsible for the spread of communicable diseases to ourselves and to others. Our hands have small invisible organisms called microbes, some of them are bad and are called germs. These germs could be viruses, bacteria and/or fungi.
These organisms can be removed by hand washing; we should always wash our hands with soap and water followed by, if available, the application of sanitizers. If water is not available we should apply only sanitizer.
If we all try to wash our hands regularly, the incidence of communicable diseases will be drastically reduced.
The best manager of a diabetic patient is the patient himself. He/She should therefore be appropriately educated by the doctor or nurse on daily monitoring of his/her blood sugar level, relating his drug intake to such levels, monitoring the effect of different types of food eaten on the blood sugar level and also be conscious of insulin or drug administration vis-a-vis a scheduled exercise and type of exercise.