Have you been eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and generally keeping your health in-check? It’s great that you are taking the right steps to lower your chances of getting diabetes but you could be missing an important point: Knowing your actual risk of contracting this worldwide epidemic.
Sounds scary? It is, because the number of diabetics in Singapore is projected to increase without intervention. What’s worse is that 14 per cent of Singaporeans, aged between 18 to 69, are also living with pre-diabetes and they don’t even know it because there are no obvious signs and symptoms for this condition, and you won’t find out you have it unless a blood test is done.
The pre-cursor to actual diabetes, pre-diabetes means that your blood sugar is elevated beyond what is the acceptable norm. Read on to see if you could be one of them!
Did you know?
Normal blood sugar is up to 6 mmol/l when fasting, or up to 8.7 mmol/l after a meal. When your blood glucose is considered higher than normal but is not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, that is when you have pre-diabetes. Without intervention, pre-diabetes could eventually develop into full-blown diabetes, which is when your blood sugar is above 7 mmol/l when fasting, or 12.2 mmol/l after a meal.
Diabetes happens when our bodies become incapable of coping with the sugar load in our system. To lower the glucose in our blood, our pancreas produces the sugar-lowering hormone insulin. However, when it is still insufficient to handle the sugar load, insulin resistance develops, causing our blood sugar to become elevated.
Managing Your Health
Before you panic, here is the good news: You can do something about it. With the right lifestyle changes and diet modifications, you can take the bull by the horns and even reverse your pre-diabetes diagnosis if it is caught early enough.
Ignoring diabetes and leaving it uncontrolled can result in various complications, but assessment tools like the 2-minute online Diabetes Risk Assessment can help you assess your risk of developing diabetes and plays a vital role in ensuring you stay on top of your health.
By knowing what is going on with your body, you can take charge of it and remain in the pink of health for years to come. Here’s how you can BEAT diabetes:
- Be Aware
- Eat Right
- Adopt An Active Lifestyle
- Take Control
Let’s Beat Diabetes
Be Aware: Do You Know Your Risk?
Do your parents or grandparents have diabetes? Your genes can be a contributing factor (yes, it does run in the family). If a family member has it, chances are, you might get it too.
While anyone can develop Type 2 diabetes at any time, some are more prone to the disease than others. Those over 40 years old run a higher risk of developing diabetes. You may want to pay attention if you are overweight with a BMI that is higher than 23, as that will increase your risk of getting diabetes.
Regular health screenings are your best bet. The earlier you get assessed, the higher the chances are that you can better control your condition. This is especially true for those who have pre-diabetes as you can stop it from progressing to diabetes when you detect it early. If you are between 18 and 39 years old, the Health Promotion Board is offering a subsidised screening invitation package for individuals who are assessed to have a higher risk of developing diabetes when you take the Diabetes Risk Assessment . Why not take advantage of that? After all, awareness is 50 per cent of the solution, so do not be afraid to find out sooner rather than later.
Eat Right: What’s On Your Plate?
Mum is right – moderation matters. Eating smaller portions is not just about losing weight. By reducing the quantity of carbohydrates (and calories) you ingest, you are ensuring that your blood is not loaded with too much glucose at any one point in time, thus keeping things under control.
IIt is also important to know how certain foods affect your blood sugar. We all know that too much sugar can cause health problems, but did you know that refined carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread and pasta are also culprits for raising your blood sugar? Even foods that we consider healthy – like fruit, milk and wholegrain pasta – contain high amounts of carbohydrates and can adversely affect your blood sugar levels if not consumed in moderation.
That does not mean you cannot still enjoy a good meal and some dessert, though. The secret? Balance.
For a balanced plate, fill it half-full with your favourite veggies (fresh or cooked) while leaving a quarter for protein (fish, chicken or beef) and the other quarter for limited whole grains. Or simply cut down on your carbohydrate intake.
When dining out, look for the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) and ditch those sugar-laden beverages. Water is your best friend as it does not affect blood sugar and flushes out excess sugar at the same time – a win-win all around!
Adopt An Active Lifestyle: Are You Exercising?
Move it, move it, move it! Did you know that exercise can help regulate blood sugar and increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin?
If you commit to 30 minutes of exercise for five days, that works out to 150 minutes of physical activity per week – which is what the doctors advised – and it can make a big difference to your overall health.
You are never too young (or old!) to start. If you are new to exercise, start small with brisk walking, qi gong or tai chi which boosts circulation while encouraging flexibility. Aim for moderate intensity, where you are still able to talk but not sing. For those who can handle more intensity, swimming, jogging and cycling are great options to get your heart pumping.
You might also want to throw in some weight training, as muscles burn off blood sugar faster, especially big muscle groups like your glutes, quads and hamstrings.
The best part? Physical activity not only lowers your blood glucose up to 24 hours or more after your workout, but it also makes your body more sensitive to insulin, which addresses the problem of insulin resistance – the root cause of Type 2 diabetes.
Take Control: Keep Your Weight In Check
You cannot fix the problem if you do not know what is wrong. Staying on top of your health means getting regular check-ups while keeping your weight within a healthy range. Do not be afraid or shun knowing the numbers – they can actually be your essential guide towards better health!
Take the Body Mass Index (BMI) for example. As an indicator of the state of your health, the healthy range for Asians is between 18.5 and 22.9 kg/m2. A BMI value of 23 and above indicates that your weight is outside of the healthy weight range for your height and any higher than 27.5 and you are at risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. Calculate your BMI here.
You Can BEAT It!
The good news is, if you are pre-diabetic or have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you need not let the disease defeat you. Armed with awareness and wise choices, you can get a handle on your health and BEAT diabetes! You might even be able to keep off medications and reverse the diagnosis if you keep these in mind:
- Be Aware
- Eat Right
- Adopt An Active Lifestyle
- Take Control
For more information on preventing diabetes, visit www.letsbeatdiabetes.sg.