Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Type 2 Diabetes - What You Can Do to Prevent It.

Diabetes has become an epidemic in the West as our diet, level of activity, and environment have changed. I wanted to provide some general information on Type 2 Diabetes, also known as Adult-Onset Diabetes (- it is no longer called that because children are regularly being diagnosed with this condition which formally developed in adults usually over the age of 45, if at all.)

Sometimes diabetes just happens, despite all prevention; however, there is a vast majority of us who can prevent the onset of diabetes through a proper diet and regular exercise.  I am sure many of you have heard this before...and...despite having heard this, you continue to engage in habits that contribute to the onset of diabetes (for example, eating candy and processed food everyday and getting less than 30 minutes of heart-raising exercise each day). Many of us believe we are immune to diabetes...that is, until it is too late!
I want to encourage you to take small steps every day to help prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes by:
  1. Changing your attitude - This is the most important step. When you decide to make change you are more likely to follow through and stick with the change. It is your choice. Make up your mind to keep healthy...you can do it!
  2. Changing your diet to include more varieties of vegetables and larger portions of vegetables, protein at every meal, fresh fruit, and to cut out processed sugars and junk food. Drink water - not pop and not juice (unless it is pure and fresh...but in moderation)...and yes, you can continue to drink your coffee, just do not load it with sugar and cream...black is preferable. For help with dietary changes, go to the Canadian Diabetes Association website
  3. Aim to exercise 45 minutes every day. Start with what you can...10 - 15 minutes a day and after 3 or 4 days, add an extra 5 minutes...do what you can, but always aim higher and you will get there! (Walk, bike, jump rope, join a fitness class...)
  4. Stay positive. This is not a recipe for instant health. It is a lifestyle change and it will take time to get used to.
  5. Include family and friends in this lifestyle change. Be a source of encouragement to others and work toward common goals. This will help you on days that you don't feel like eating healthier or exercising.
Type 2 Diabetes

What is it?
It is a condition where the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not use it properly.
Insulin is a hormone that breaks down glucose (sugar) allowing the glucose to leave the blood stream and enter into cells.

Main Symptoms:
  • fatigue
  • frequent urination
  • unusual thirst
  • unexplained weight loss 
If left unchecked these symptoms can develop:
  • blindness
  • heart disease
  • reduced blood supply to the limbs, leading to amputation
  • nerve damage
  • erectile dysfunction
  • stroke
Risk Factors:
  • being age 40 or over
  • being overweight (especially with abdominal obesity)
  • having a family member who has diabetes
  • having had gestational diabetes
  • having given birth to a baby that weighed more than 4 kg (9 lb) at birth
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • member of a high-risk ethnic group.

Aboriginal people have three to five times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than other Canadians. Even Aboriginal children are now being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a condition that usually occurs in older adults. People of Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent are also more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Don't smoke
  • Achieve a healthy weight and maintain it
  • Be physically active
  • Limit your intake of fat and sugar
  • Eat regular, balanced meals including protein, carbs, and good fats
  • Keep your cholesterol and other blood fats within the target level
  • Maintain a normal blood pressure
Managing Type 2 Diabetes:
  • Take your medication as prescribed 
  • Monitor your blood glucose regularly as recommended by your doctor 
  • Take care of your feet by examining the skin for redness and sores 
  • Visit your doctor and dentist regularly and see an eye specialist as recommended
  • Consult a dietitian about creating balanced meals 
  • If you drink alcohol, consume it in moderation and avoid drinking on an empty stomach as this can cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) 
  • If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using artificial sweeteners
This is general information. It is not intended to relpace the advice of your physician...When making any significant lifestyle change (including diet and exercise), it is recommended that you consult your physician.
Some information taken directly from the Health Canada website http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/