In Honour of World Diabetes Day
On November 14 of every year, World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated all over the world to raise awareness for the deadly disease, and each World Diabetes Day focuses on a theme that is related to diabetes. It is an important healthcare event that aims to educate as many people as possible about preventive tips and the impact that diabetes has on an individual’s health. While the campaigns last the whole year, the day itself marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, who, along with Charles Best and John Macleod, first conceived the idea that led to the discovery of insulin in 1922.
The day was proposed by the International Diabetes Federation in 1991 with support from the World Health Organization and became an official United Nations day in 2006. The campaign also advocates for better access to treatment and quality information to tackle diabetes.
Everything you should know about diabetes
Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose. What this means is that your body isn’t able to move sugar or glucose from your bloodstream into your cells, and so you end up with a surplus in your bloodstream.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa, over 24 million adults are currently living with diabetes, and that number is expected to increase to 55 million by 2045. Last year, the disease took the lives of over 410 000 people on the continent and is predicted to become one of the leading causes of death in Africa by 2030.
Some known risk factors include family history and increasing age, while some modifiable risk factors include overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets, inactive lifestyles, smoking, and alcohol abuse.
Left unchecked without management and lifestyle changes, diabetes can lead to several devastating complications like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, visual impairment, blindness, and nerve damage. Also, people with diabetes are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Types of diabetes: Type 2 diabetes (this type of diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity and until recently this type of diabetes is seen only in adults but is also now recurring in children. It is preventable and treatable), Type 1 diabetes (this type isn’t preventable but can be managed with insulin injections) and gestational diabetes (this type occurs during pregnancy).
Prevention and Treatment
Living a healthy lifestyle, and eating balanced diets combined with regular exercise have been shown to be effective in protecting individuals from Type 2 diabetes. To help prevent Type 2 diabetes and its complications, you should:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
- Be physically active
- Eat a healthy diet, avoid sugar and saturated fats
- Avoid tobacco use because smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Limit alcohol consumption
Some foods to include in your diet if you are diabetic are vegetables like broccoli, potatoes, corn, and carrots, fruits like oranges, berries, apples, and bananas, grains like wheat, rice, bread, and pasta; proteins like nuts/peanuts, fish, and eggs; and lean meat and dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cheese.
If you are a diabetic, it’s important that you check your eating habits because you need to know how to manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It also helps to read more about it.
Happy World Diabetes Day!