Are you at risk of Type 2 diabetes?

The Type 2 diabetes epidemic is here – do you know if you’re at risk? Bridget McNulty outlines the South African statistics, the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes – and how to reverse it.

If you know anything about Type 2 diabetes, you’ll know that it is a manageable condition. If you take your medication as prescribed, eat healthy, exercise and lose weight if you need to, you can live a perfectly normal, healthy, happy life with diabetes.

 

And yet.

Type 2 diabetes is the number one killer of women in South Africa, according to Stats SA*. The number one killer of women and it’s not a lethal condition! How can this be?

 

At least half of SA’s diabetics are undiagnosed

The trouble is that at least half of people living with diabetes in South Africa are undiagnosed. There’s an estimated 4.5 million people with Type 2 diabetes in our country – at least two million of them don’t know about it. What this means is that at least two million people are walking around not watching what they eat, not taking medication, not exercising and not losing weight if they need to.

The management of diabetes is fairly simple – the TEEL method outlined below. But you can’t manage what you don’t know you have.

T – Take your medication

E – Eat healthy

E – Exercise, a little every day

L – Lose weight, if you need to

 

As a result of these huge numbers of undiagnosed cases, people with diabetes who could otherwise manage their condition are ending up in hospital. Amputation, blindness, kidney failure and heart disease are all long-term complications of uncontrolled diabetes. They’re all avoidable if you take care of yourself, but you can’t take care of yourself if you don’t know you have diabetes. The first step? Knowing the risk factors.

 

The risk factors of Type 2 diabetes

Once you know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, you can assess whether or not you need to be on the alert. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s a good idea to get an annual diabetes screening. This test is a simple finger prick blood test at your local Dis-Chem Wellness Clinic. It takes less than five minutes, doesn’t hurt and will give you results immediately. So, what are the risk factors?

  • 45 years old (or older) OR
  • Overweight or obese AND
  • Physically inactive (not much exercise)
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease history
  • High-risk ethnic group (Asian, Indian, Coloured)
  • Diabetes during pregnancy or a baby over 4kg
  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

 

All adults over 45 years should have an annual diabetes screening. Just make it part of your yearly health checks – knowledge is power!

 

How to reverse Type 2 diabetes

Luckily, reversing Type 2 diabetes is possible for many people. It’s helpful to be diagnosed early enough – which is why annual diabetes screenings are so important. If you know you have some of the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, or you know your blood glucose (blood sugar) is higher than normal, you can make small changes that will have a big impact.

It’s important to work with a doctor so they can explain what your blood glucose results mean. After that, there are three lifestyle changes that will make a big difference:

  1. Lose weight if you need to – Extra fat, especially around the tummy, often leads to Type 2 diabetes because that fat builds up deep in the abdomen. This raises the risk of insulin resistance, which is often a big part of Type 2 diabetes.
  2. Eat healthier – Eating the right kind of food has a huge impact on your blood glucose. Eating the right amount of food – portion control – is also essential. What is the right kind of food? No refined carbs (sugary food, junk food, white bread, white pasta, white rice, cakes, cookies, sweets, cooldrinks and juice). Half a plate of leafy, green vegetables at every meal. A quarter plate of high-quality protein (eggs, fish, chicken, lean red meat) and a quarter plate of high-fibre carbs or starch (sweet potato, butternut, brown rice), with a small amount of healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado). Some people choose to cut out carbs completely, which needs to be done under supervision from your doctor.
  3. Move your body – Exercise is a must! It improves your blood glucose immediately and can help reverse Type 2 diabetes. It also helps you lose weight. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to a gym – it can be a 30-minute walk around the block five times a week. Just make sure you’re walking fast enough to raise your heartbeat. That’s the goal!

 

COVID-19 and Type 2 diabetes

Of course, this is all made more urgent by the presence of COVID-19 because uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes is one of the top co-morbidities of serious COVID-19. We all need to know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes so that we can make changes if necessary and be aware if we’re at higher risk. You can’t control what you don’t know about, so if you feel you or your family members may be at risk, get a diabetes screening and take charge of your health. Now that we all understand the lingo of flattening the curve, we can apply it to Type 2 diabetes. If we can diagnose and treat (and even reverse) more Type 2 diabetes, earlier, we won’t see so many people in hospital because of diabetes.

 

“Knowledge is power: if you know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes and what to do about them, you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes. We have the opportunity to flatten the curve of diabetes in South Africa: the way to do that is by understanding the risks and acting on them.”

 

Understanding prediabetes

Prediabetes is technically the stage before Type 2 diabetes: when you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you don’t change your lifestyle and diet. The recently released South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016 reports that very high proportions of women (64%) and men (66%) are prediabetic (adjusted HbA1c level of 5.7%-6.4%). “Thus, a large proportion of adults are either not aware of their condition or not aware that they are at risk for diabetes.”

This can be a hopeful situation: it means that two out of three South Africans have the potential to turn their risk of developing diabetes around. It’s a slow-moving train wreck that can be stopped.

If you or your family is at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it can feel overwhelming. Changing the way you eat and starting to exercise regularly can feel like too much to ask. But you can do it! For your future good health, you can do it. Join Diabetic South Africans on Facebook to feel part of a diabetes community, or get more info on how to live well with diabetes (including meal plans, food, exercise and weight loss tips) at www.sweetlife.org.za.

*Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2016: Findings from death notification

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If you know anything about Type 2 diabetes, you’ll know that it is a manageable condition. If you take your medication as prescribed, eat healthy, exercise and lose weight if you need to, you can live a perfectly normal, healthy, happy life with diabetes.

 

And yet.

Type 2 diabetes is the number one killer of women in South Africa, according to Stats SA*. The number one killer of women and it’s not a lethal condition! How can this be?

 

 

At least half of SA’s diabetics are undiagnosed

The trouble is that at least half of people living with diabetes in South Africa are undiagnosed. There’s an estimated 4.5 million people with Type 2 diabetes in our country – at least two million of them don’t know about it. What this means is that at least two million people are walking around not watching what they eat, not taking medication, not exercising and not losing weight if they need to.

The management of diabetes is fairly simple – the TEEL method outlined below. But you can’t manage what you don’t know you have.

T – Take your medication

E – Eat healthy

E – Exercise, a little every day

L – Lose weight, if you need to

 

As a result of these huge numbers of undiagnosed cases, people with diabetes who could otherwise manage their condition are ending up in hospital. Amputation, blindness, kidney failure and heart disease are all long-term complications of uncontrolled diabetes. They’re all avoidable if you take care of yourself, but you can’t take care of yourself if you don’t know you have diabetes. The first step? Knowing the risk factors.

The risk factors of Type 2 diabetes

Once you know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, you can assess whether or not you need to be on the alert. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s a good idea to get an annual diabetes screening. This test is a simple finger prick blood test at your local Dis-Chem Wellness Clinic. It takes less than five minutes, doesn’t hurt and will give you results immediately. So, what are the risk factors?

  • 45 years old (or older) OR
  • Overweight or obese AND
  • Physically inactive (not much exercise)
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease history
  • High-risk ethnic group (Asian, Indian, Coloured)
  • Diabetes during pregnancy or a baby over 4kg
  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

 

All adults over 45 years should have an annual diabetes screening. Just make it part of your yearly health checks – knowledge is power!

 

How to reverse Type 2 diabetes

Luckily, reversing Type 2 diabetes is possible for many people. It’s helpful to be diagnosed early enough – which is why annual diabetes screenings are so important. If you know you have some of the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, or you know your blood glucose (blood sugar) is higher than normal, you can make small changes that will have a big impact.

It’s important to work with a doctor so they can explain what your blood glucose results mean. After that, there are three lifestyle changes that will make a big difference:

  1. Lose weight if you need to – Extra fat, especially around the tummy, often leads to Type 2 diabetes because that fat builds up deep in the abdomen. This raises the risk of insulin resistance, which is often a big part of Type 2 diabetes.
  2. Eat healthier – Eating the right kind of food has a huge impact on your blood glucose. Eating the right amount of food – portion control – is also essential. What is the right kind of food? No refined carbs (sugary food, junk food, white bread, white pasta, white rice, cakes, cookies, sweets, cooldrinks and juice). Half a plate of leafy, green vegetables at every meal. A quarter plate of high-quality protein (eggs, fish, chicken, lean red meat) and a quarter plate of high-fibre carbs or starch (sweet potato, butternut, brown rice), with a small amount of healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado). Some people choose to cut out carbs completely, which needs to be done under supervision from your doctor.
  3. Move your body – Exercise is a must! It improves your blood glucose immediately and can help reverse Type 2 diabetes. It also helps you lose weight. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to a gym – it can be a 30-minute walk around the block five times a week. Just make sure you’re walking fast enough to raise your heartbeat. That’s the goal!

 

COVID-19 and Type 2 diabetes

Of course, this is all made more urgent by the presence of COVID-19 because uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes is one of the top co-morbidities of serious COVID-19. We all need to know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes so that we can make changes if necessary and be aware if we’re at higher risk. You can’t control what you don’t know about, so if you feel you or your family members may be at risk, get a diabetes screening and take charge of your health. Now that we all understand the lingo of flattening the curve, we can apply it to Type 2 diabetes. If we can diagnose and treat (and even reverse) more Type 2 diabetes, earlier, we won’t see so many people in hospital because of diabetes.

 

“Knowledge is power: if you know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes and what to do about them, you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes. We have the opportunity to flatten the curve of diabetes in South Africa: the way to do that is by understanding the risks and acting on them.”

 

Understanding prediabetes

Prediabetes is technically the stage before Type 2 diabetes: when you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you don’t change your lifestyle and diet. The recently released South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016 reports that very high proportions of women (64%) and men (66%) are prediabetic (adjusted HbA1c level of 5.7%-6.4%). “Thus, a large proportion of adults are either not aware of their condition or not aware that they are at risk for diabetes.”

This can be a hopeful situation: it means that two out of three South Africans have the potential to turn their risk of developing diabetes around. It’s a slow-moving train wreck that can be stopped.

If you or your family is at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it can feel overwhelming. Changing the way you eat and starting to exercise regularly can feel like too much to ask. But you can do it! For your future good health, you can do it. Join Diabetic South Africans on Facebook to feel part of a diabetes community, or get more info on how to live well with diabetes (including meal plans, food, exercise and weight loss tips) at www.sweetlife.org.za.

*Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2016: Findings from death notification

If you know anything about Type 2 diabetes, you’ll know that it is a manageable condition. If you take your medication as prescribed, eat healthy, exercise and lose weight if you need to, you can live a perfectly normal, healthy, happy life with diabetes.

 

And yet.

Type 2 diabetes is the number one killer of women in South Africa, according to Stats SA*. The number one killer of women and it’s not a lethal condition! How can this be?

 

 

At least half of SA’s diabetics are undiagnosed

The trouble is that at least half of people living with diabetes in South Africa are undiagnosed. There’s an estimated 4.5 million people with Type 2 diabetes in our country – at least two million of them don’t know about it. What this means is that at least two million people are walking around not watching what they eat, not taking medication, not exercising and not losing weight if they need to.

The management of diabetes is fairly simple – the TEEL method outlined below. But you can’t manage what you don’t know you have.

T – Take your medication

E – Eat healthy

E – Exercise, a little every day

L – Lose weight, if you need to

 

As a result of these huge numbers of undiagnosed cases, people with diabetes who could otherwise manage their condition are ending up in hospital. Amputation, blindness, kidney failure and heart disease are all long-term complications of uncontrolled diabetes. They’re all avoidable if you take care of yourself, but you can’t take care of yourself if you don’t know you have diabetes. The first step? Knowing the risk factors.

 

The risk factors of Type 2 diabetes

Once you know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, you can assess whether or not you need to be on the alert. If you have any of these risk factors, it’s a good idea to get an annual diabetes screening. This test is a simple finger prick blood test at your local Dis-Chem Wellness Clinic. It takes less than five minutes, doesn’t hurt and will give you results immediately. So, what are the risk factors?

  • 45 years old (or older) OR
  • Overweight or obese AND
  • Physically inactive (not much exercise)
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease history
  • High-risk ethnic group (Asian, Indian, Coloured)
  • Diabetes during pregnancy or a baby over 4kg
  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

 

All adults over 45 years should have an annual diabetes screening. Just make it part of your yearly health checks – knowledge is power!

 

How to reverse Type 2 diabetes

Luckily, reversing Type 2 diabetes is possible for many people. It’s helpful to be diagnosed early enough – which is why annual diabetes screenings are so important. If you know you have some of the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes, or you know your blood glucose (blood sugar) is higher than normal, you can make small changes that will have a big impact.

It’s important to work with a doctor so they can explain what your blood glucose results mean. After that, there are three lifestyle changes that will make a big difference:

  1. Lose weight if you need to – Extra fat, especially around the tummy, often leads to Type 2 diabetes because that fat builds up deep in the abdomen. This raises the risk of insulin resistance, which is often a big part of Type 2 diabetes.
  2. Eat healthier – Eating the right kind of food has a huge impact on your blood glucose. Eating the right amount of food – portion control – is also essential. What is the right kind of food? No refined carbs (sugary food, junk food, white bread, white pasta, white rice, cakes, cookies, sweets, cooldrinks and juice). Half a plate of leafy, green vegetables at every meal. A quarter plate of high-quality protein (eggs, fish, chicken, lean red meat) and a quarter plate of high-fibre carbs or starch (sweet potato, butternut, brown rice), with a small amount of healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado). Some people choose to cut out carbs completely, which needs to be done under supervision from your doctor.
  3. Move your body – Exercise is a must! It improves your blood glucose immediately and can help reverse Type 2 diabetes. It also helps you lose weight. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to a gym – it can be a 30-minute walk around the block five times a week. Just make sure you’re walking fast enough to raise your heartbeat. That’s the goal!

 

COVID-19 and Type 2 diabetes

Of course, this is all made more urgent by the presence of COVID-19 because uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes is one of the top co-morbidities of serious COVID-19. We all need to know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes so that we can make changes if necessary and be aware if we’re at higher risk. You can’t control what you don’t know about, so if you feel you or your family members may be at risk, get a diabetes screening and take charge of your health. Now that we all understand the lingo of flattening the curve, we can apply it to Type 2 diabetes. If we can diagnose and treat (and even reverse) more Type 2 diabetes, earlier, we won’t see so many people in hospital because of diabetes.

 

“Knowledge is power: if you know the risk factors of Type 2 diabetes and what to do about them, you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes. We have the opportunity to flatten the curve of diabetes in South Africa: the way to do that is by understanding the risks and acting on them.”

 

Understanding prediabetes

Prediabetes is technically the stage before Type 2 diabetes: when you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you don’t change your lifestyle and diet. The recently released South Africa Demographic and Health Survey 2016 reports that very high proportions of women (64%) and men (66%) are prediabetic (adjusted HbA1c level of 5.7%-6.4%). “Thus, a large proportion of adults are either not aware of their condition or not aware that they are at risk for diabetes.”

This can be a hopeful situation: it means that two out of three South Africans have the potential to turn their risk of developing diabetes around. It’s a slow-moving train wreck that can be stopped.

If you or your family is at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it can feel overwhelming. Changing the way you eat and starting to exercise regularly can feel like too much to ask. But you can do it! For your future good health, you can do it. Join Diabetic South Africans on Facebook to feel part of a diabetes community, or get more info on how to live well with diabetes (including meal plans, food, exercise and weight loss tips) at www.sweetlife.org.za.

*Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2016: Findings from death notification