Now considered a global health emergency, the spread of type-2 diabetes is staggering. In 2015, 415 million adults around the world lived with the chronic disease, and experts predict the numbers are only going to increase. In Singapore alone, one out of every 9 adults aged 18 to 69 has diabetes.
What is Type-2 Diabetes?
Our body depends on glucose for energy, and this glucose comes from the food that we eat. When our body digests a meal, the glucose (or sugar) levels in our blood rise, signalling our pancreas to make insulin. Insulin is what helps our body take the sugars floating around in our bloodstream into our cells, to be used as energy.
Diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or properly use the insulin that it has made. This causes sugars to build up in our blood. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to further health complications like blindness, kidney failure, and even amputations.
With one in three Singaporeans at risk of getting diabetes in their lifetime, it is encouraging to know that there are many things you can do to prevent diabetes from occurring, as diabetes is largely influenced by lifestyle and behavioural factors.
Here are some simple (but powerful) things you can do in your life to keep diabetes away from you and your loved ones.
Sugary beverages like soda have been closely linked to type-2 diabetes and just two drinks a day increases your risk of developing the disease by 20%. Water, however, leads to better blood sugar control and insulin levels.
Cut Down On Sugar And Refined Carbs
Eating your cakes, ice cream and sweets frequently puts a lot of sugar into your bloodstream. The body, sensing the high sugar levels, produces insulin to help get it out of the bloodstream and into your cells. However, when the amounts of sugar are kept consistently high, and the insulin produced hits overdrive, your body stops responding as efficiently as it used to, leaving too much sugar floating around in your body.
Whether this pre-diabetic condition expands into type-2 diabetes is entirely up to the individual. Making healthier food choices can return blood glucose levels to their original state.
Keep Moving! Exercise Regularly
Researchers have found that moderate-intensity exercise increases the body’s insulin sensitivity by 51%. All you need to do is exercise within the Fat Burn Zone (60-69.9% of MHR) with some brisk walking or light jogging to reap the health benefits. However, improved insulin sensitivity only takes place on days you actually work out.
Engaging in regular physical activity is therefore a key lifestyle decision that everyone should make. Monitor your progress with a heart rate monitor like Actxa’s Spur to stay motivated and aware of the intensity and duration of your exercises. If you have a desk bound job, you can even set a reminder to move every hour.
Lose The Excess Weight
Excess weight is the single most important reason why type-2 diabetes occurs. Visceral fat, which is the fat that lies around your internal organs, promotes insulin resistance and inflammation. Being overweight or obese increases your chances of developing diabetes up to 40 times more than someone at a healthy weight.
The good news is that for every kilogram of weight lost, the risk of diabetes also drops by 16%.
Start monitoring your health and the health of your loved ones with a smart weighing scale. If possible, opt for one like the Actxa Sense which provides full body composition analyses, and updates you on your weight, body fat scale, BMI and lean muscle mass. You can keep an eye on both your overall weight journey, and your visceral fat weight loss.
It can be hard. But smokers are about 50% more likely than non-smokers to develop type-2 diabetes. Find a support group or look for alternatives to help quit the cigarettes. It’s an investment in your future health and wellbeing.
Preventing diabetes may not be easy, especially if your lifestyle tends to be sedentary and you have a taste for rich, sweet foods. It is, however, simple.
By focusing on making healthy food choices, staying lean and active, you can control many of the factors that influence diabetes for both you and your loved ones.