In the future, it’s possible that either you or someone you know could be affected with diabetes. That’s because almost 600 million of us worldwide may be living with type 2 diabetes by 2035 says the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), a leading force behind World Diabetes Day, celebrated each November 14. But it’s never too late to learn how to start a healthy lifestyle and practice eating a healthy diet to help prevent the disease—a key message this World Diabetes Day.

World Diabetes Day also sparks off a year-long campaign which brings together the global diabetes community to serve as a powerful voice for diabetes awareness and advocacy in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by the disease. The IDF notes the following facts:

  • The proportion of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing in most countries
  • 77% of adults with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries
  • The greatest number of people with diabetes are between 40 and 59 years of age
  • 179 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed
  • Diabetes caused 9 million deaths in 2014; every seven seconds a person dies from diabetes
  • Diabetes caused at least USD 612 billion dollars in health expenditure in 2014 –11% of total spending on adults
  • More than 79,000 children developed type 1 diabetes in 2013
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

You may have heard the terms type 1 and type 2 before, but are unsure what they mean. Type 1 diabetes, explains the American Diabetes Association,“is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.”

Type 2 diabetes “is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.

“If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.”

Risk factors

In the United States, the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, states that for the year 2012, 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the population had diabetes, but 8.1 million of those were undiagnosed.

Although that’s a scary finding, it serves as a reminder of the importance of getting blood sugar tested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “A person with pre-diabetes has a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. He or she is at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease, and stroke. Without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15% to 30% of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.”

The CDC states that people with the following risk factors are more likely to develop prediabetes and type 2 diabetes:

  • Age, especially after 45 years of age
  • Being overweight or obese
  • A family history of diabetes
  • Having an African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander racial or ethnic background
  • A history of diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or having given birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more
  • And being physically active less than three times a week
Signs and symptoms

The American Diabetes Association says the following symptoms of diabetes are typical, but warns that some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they may go unnoticed. Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry—even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss—even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Healthy lifestyle and eating for prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising at least three times a week are recommended in addition to healthy eating. The IDF explains, “A healthy lifestyle could prevent up to 70% of type 2 diabetes; healthy eating can help reduce risks.”

The IDF recommends a healthy diet of leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, lean meat, unsweetened yogurt and nuts.

What about alcohol?

A recent Israeli study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that for people with Type 2 diabetes, a daily glass of red wine may be beneficial.

Researchers randomly assigned 224 teetotaling patients, who had well-controlled Type 2 diabetes, to drink either 5 ounces of either mineral water, white wine or red wine with dinner for two years. The patients also followed a Mediterranean diet without caloric restriction.

The outcome of the study “showed that a healthy diet and moderate alcohol intake, particularly red wine, were associated with better lipid and glucose control than water and had no significant harmful effects.”

Preventive measures are key

While diabetes may be rising to epidemic proportions, as more of us gain awareness of its dangers and practice healthy lifestyles, perhaps we can help stem the tide on this scourge—and more of us will live longer and healthier lives.

Click here to find out about Rose’s thoughts on wellbeing and health

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