Do you know how many Australians have diabetes? According to Diabetes Australia, there are 1.7 million Australians are suffering from diabetes. This figure includes the known cases of diabetes (of which, 1.2 million cases fall into this category) and undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (which accounts half a million cases). This is a startling and scary statistic – but there are simple things you can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Keeping the waistline and scales in check can make a huge difference when it comes to staving off the development of diabetes. But it’s not only diabetes that can be prevented by losing the few extra muffins around the middle – you’ll also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. In terms of your waistline, men should aim for a circumference of less than 94cm, with a limit of 80cm for women.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines outline the importance of accumulating between 2.5 and 5 hours of moderate exercise each week, or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous exercise weekly. Consistent, regular exercise can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by controlling (or even reducing) your weight, lowering blood pressure and even reducing stress levels. There’s no need to pound the pavement for hours on end. Start slow, and set yourself manageable goals which you can continue to increase. Like anything, the key to success is consistency.
Vices, Be Gone!
There’s no beating around the bush with this – if you smoke, you are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Smokers also have an increased risk of to heart disease, obesity and stroke as well as kidney disease and retinopathy. Likewise, excessive alcohol consumption can also a negative impact on your health and the chance that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes, because excessive alcohol consumption can not only lead to weight gain, but also potentially damage the liver, pancreas and brain. Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by quitting smoking and only drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. In doing so, you’re potentially adding years to your life.
Interestingly, a diet high in fibre can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Making a conscious effort to include a wide range of whole grain foods in your diet actually has multiple benefits when it comes to staving off diabetes – from improving insulin sensitivity, to reducing inflammation in the body. Wholegrains are generally recognised to be low on the glycemic index, meaning that rather than causing a spike in blood sugar levels after they are consumed, blood sugar levels are less likely to spike. When you’re in the supermarket, look for wholegrain breads, pastas and cereals – a simple swap which can make a big difference to your overall health.
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Control
It is perhaps useful when it comes to blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes to think of them not as separate conditions, but rather as being intertwined. Having either high blood pressure or high cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Similarly, living with type 2 diabetes can mean that you’re at increased risk of developing high cholesterol or high blood pressure. By adopting the strategies we’ve outlined today, you can address each of these three conditions – and help your chances of a long, happy and healthy life.
Intended as general advice only. Please consult your health care provider to discuss any specific concerns.