Diabetes is close to becoming South Africa’s new epidemic.
Diabetes 2 is now the biggest killer of South African women, overtaking TB, stroke and HIV/AIDS. This is according to Statistics South Africa. Doctors have been warning the public about this for a long time already. In 2013 Dr Larry Distiller, MD of the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology was quoted as saying, “The diabetes tsunami is here. And we in South Africa are in trouble.”
Did you know? Some three-and-a-half million South Africans have been diagnosed with diabetes and at least five million more people have pre-diabetes. This means they already have an insulin resistance causing their blood glucose levels to be higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. If pre-diabetics don’t radically change their unhealthy lifestyles, they will become diabetic.
And, we aren’t even considering the number of South Africans who remain undiagnosed!
Obesity the root cause
So, let’s get real about diabetes 2. This means getting real about your weight because being overweight increases your risk of becoming diabetic.
In fact, we need to start seriously addressing obesity because if you are obese your chances of getting type 2 diabetes are extremely high. It is one of the reasons why Cambridge Weight Plan has returned to South African shores – it offers solutions for people struggling with obesity. And, in turn ,lowers the risk of people getting type 2 diabetes.
Let’s take a closer look at diabetes. In the long-term, it can cause heart problems, strokes, serious eye problems, kidney problems, nerve damage and a digestive system that doesn’t function properly.
There are three types:
Type 1 diabetes – This is when the body cannot produce insulin (a vital hormone produced by the pancreas to convert glucose into energy) and is managed with medical insulin plus a healthy diet.
Type 2 diabetes – This condition develops over a longer period of time and is generally caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. The body is eventually unable to use insulin correctly.
Gestational diabetes – This only occurs during pregnancy because of factors such as hormonal changes, genetics and lifestyle. Once the woman gives birth, the diabetes goes away. It is important to understand that women who had gestational diabetes are at a very high risk of getting it again later in life unless they remain healthy.
A lifestyle disease
Most South Africans have type 2 diabetes because of the way we live – we eat badly, we don’t exercise and we are always under a great deal of stress.
The good news is type 2 diabetes can be avoided and with an early diagnosis can be managed fairly easily without the fear of developing long-term health problems. The bad news is many type 2 diabetes cases go undiagnosed as there are very few symptoms initially.
You should have your blood-glucose levels tested for type 2 diabetes if you have some or all of the following symptoms:
- If you are obese
- Unexplained fatigue
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Wounds healing too slowly
- Regular, unexplained skin infections
- Blurred vision for no reason
- Constant, nagging thrush (candida)
Even if you have mild versions of these symptoms, you should go for a blood glucose test. It may save you from the long-term health issues.
How to prevent and cure
Fortunately, you can lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by simply living a healthy lifestyle.
Here are 5 ways you can avoid getting this dreaded disease:
- Change unhealthy habits into good ones – This doesn’t mean you must change overnight. Begin by making small changes to your grocery cupboards and fridge. Start becoming more aware of how active you are and where you could become more active. Be realistic about your goals. Keep a health and wellness journal. Record everything because when you look back you will begin to see your bad habits.
- Get real about your weight and start the Cambridge Weight Plan. It offers flexible health solutions for people from all walks of life with weight issues as well as those who are obese. Contact a CWP Consultant to find out more about our various plans. We will make a plan to fit your lifestyle.
- Cut out sugar and bad carbs – Look for healthier alternatives to sugar and refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta and refined white rice). The Cambridge Weight Plan has various plans which incorporate delicious and healthy meals.
- Quench thirst with water – Drink at least 8 decent sized glasses of water a day. Replace all other drinks with water. It has many benefits:
- It flushes toxins
- It promotes weight loss
- It rehydrates
- It re-energises
- It improves the complexion
- It aids digestion
- It boosts the immune system
- Get active – The aim is to change from being a couch potato to becoming active in a real way. Take a walk around your neighbourhood or take up gardening. Choose things to keep you active. Replace weekend television viewing with cycling at your local park. Do it slowly and make sure you enjoy the physical activities you start incorporating into your lifestyle. You will benefit twofold by getting fit and de-stressing.
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