Did you know the fastest growing chronic condition in the country can be prevented?
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in our country, affecting nearly two million Australians. It is estimated that every five minutes, an Australian develops diabetes.1
Diabetes is a condition where there are high levels of glucose in the blood and this can have serious long-term implications for your health. Over time, high glucose levels cause damage to blood vessels and nerves, resulting in health complications, including heart, kidney, eye, and foot damage.
It is not a single condition—there are three main types, including type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. All types of diabetes are increasing in prevalence in Australia, but type 2 diabetes is by far the most common.2 But the good news is that even if you have a genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Dr Priya Chagan, General Manager of Health Services at leading Australian life insurer, TAL, says that National Diabetes Week (9-15 July) is the perfect time to remind Australians that simple lifestyle changes can help prevent developing type 2 diabetes. Here, she shares her advice on how to minimise your risk.
Keep your body moving
One of the most effective ways to ensure you maintain a healthy weight is to be active. Spending less time sitting or lying down is key to preventing type 2 diabetes—this does not have to mean intense exercise but rather incorporating movement into your everyday routine.
This could be walking or riding a bike instead of driving, playing sport, or simply making the effort to get out of your seat and walk around the house more. At the end of the day, every move counts! And by keeping active you will notice that not only does exercise assist in the maintenance of a healthy weight, but it also boosts overall mental health and energy levels.
Food is your fuel—choose wisely
Healthier food choices can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It not only helps maintain a healthy weight but it is also important in the management of blood glucose levels. A healthy, well-balanced diet is one that involves a variety of food groups in the right portion sizes, while avoiding processed or packaged foods, added salt, and added sugars.
A good way to understand the amount and types of foods that make up a healthy diet is to refer to the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
Go easy on the alcohol
Watching your alcohol consumption goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. It can be high in calories, which will not help in the maintenance of a healthy weight. It is best to speak with your doctor if you are unsure what impact drinking alcohol may have on your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The best way to stay hydrated is with water. Any drinks that contain carbohydrates can increase your blood glucose levels, so it is best to steer clear of sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sports drinks and cordials. While drinks with artificial sweeteners do not affect your blood glucose, they can increase your preference for sweet drinks so it’s best to stick to plain water when you can.
Diabetes impacts millions of Australians every day. It is important to remember that there are simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and enjoy life in good health.
This is not health advise for people with diabetes. For support and information on managing diabetes, speak with your GP or visit Diabetes Australia.