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Healthy eating, physical exercise to mitigate diabetes


As the World marks Diabetes Day on Wednesday, readers have been advised to eat healthy, by consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables.

They should also try to avoid/reduce fatty foods and exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. Undergoing routine health check is another important factor.

Physicians describe diabetes as a chronic, non-communicable disease in which there is persistent raised blood sugar, hyperglycemia. Diabetes occurs either when the pancreas, an organ in the body, does not produce enough insulin, resulting in Type 1 diabetes, or when the body cannot effectively use insulin, which leads to Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Modupe Akinyinka, a senior Lecturer and Consultant Public Health Physician at Department of Community Health and Primary Health Care, Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM), described insulin as a hormone that regulates blood sugar.


“Hyperglycemia or raised blood sugar is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes, which over time, leads to serious damage of many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels,” she said.

Akinyinka explained that government can help in the prevention of diabetes by encouraging citizens to eat healthy and exercise via public health campaigns, providing enabling environment, such as side walks and cycling paths, so people can exercise more, increasing taxes on tobacco and enforcing the “no smoking in public” laws.

She said: “Causes of Type 1 diabetes are not clear, but risk factors for Type 2 include excess body weight, obesity and physical inactivity, lack of exercise. Diabetes may also occur in pregnancy, which is known as gestational diabetes.

“The symptoms of diabetes include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria,) thirst, polydipsia, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue.

“Type 1 diabetes is more common in younger people, while Type 2, which used to be more common in adults, is becoming common among younger people due to lifestyle. Women may have more risk factors, such as being more obese, but prevalence of diabetes in both sexes varies in different populations.

“Preventions of diabetes include achieving and maintaining healthy body weight. More activities are required for weight control. People should also avoid intake of sugar and saturated fats, as well as use of tobacco. Smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

A Consultant Family Physician, Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor, explained that diabetes mellitus could be classified into four major groups, based on the cause.

He said: “For instance, Type 1 diabetes is as a result of the body’s immune system, which ordinarily should protect the body from harm, attacking the pancreas, the organ producing insulin. This leads to absolute lack of insulin, which prevents the intake and adequate use of blood glucose. It is commonly seen in children, adolescents and young adults. It has a strong genetic predisposition, accounting for about 10 per cent of patients with diabetes mellitus.

“The second group is the Type 2 diabetes. It is a disorder profoundly influenced by the lifestyle of many members of modern societies, so much so that it has reached epidemic proportions. The major determinants are increasing age, obesity, ethnicity and family history of diabetes.

“It predisposes to a condition known as insulin resistance, impaired insulin action, which means that the available insulin is not working adequately to clear glucose in the blood. It accounts for 90 percent of diabetes mellitus.

Diabetes Mellitus can result from diseases of the pancreas, such as pancreatitis, pancreatic cyst and tumours. It can also be induced by such drugs as antihypertensive, beta-blockers, thiazide, steroids, anticonvulsant hynetoin, immunosuppressive, agents and antipsychotics.


“The third group is gestational diabetes mellitus, which develops during pregnancy. Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how the cells use sugar glucose. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect the pregnancy and the baby’s health.

“However, it can be controlled by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication prescribed by your doctor. Controlling blood sugar can prevent a difficult birth and keep both the patient and baby healthy.

“The blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. If a patient has a history of gestational diabetes, they are at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

“The fourth group is uncontrolled blood sugar in affected persons, which can cause heart diseases, heart attack, kidney diseases, visual impairment, erectile dysfunction, tingling and numbness in the limbs, stroke and predisposition to developing infections and leg ulcers, which may heal or progress to the point where amputation may be considered.”

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