Have you, or someone close to you been recently diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes? Stop, relax and breathe as everything is going to be okay! You are certainly not alone in feeling overwhelmed, angry or upset by a diabetes diagnosis – and you won’t be alone as you figure out how to get on top of your diabetes management. We are here to arm you with all the information you need to help you live a happy and healthy life with diabetes! Let’s get started…
So what is diabetes anyway?
Diabetes is the name given to a group of different conditions that are characterised by having too much glucose (a form of sugar that is your body’s main source of energy) in your blood.
When you have diabetes, your pancreas is either unable to make enough insulin – a hormone which is essential for converting glucose from food into energy – or the insulin you make doesn’t work effectively. When insulin isn’t able to do its job, glucose builds up in your blood, which can lead to many different health complications.
What’s your type?
Diabetes is the world’s fastest-growing condition, with 422 million diagnosed cases globally. 280 people in Australia are diagnosed with diabetes every single day – that’s one every 5 minutes. It is estimated that there are 1.7 million people living with diabetes in Australia, including many who are not yet diagnosed.
Diabetes does not discriminate, and can occur in anyone. The most common types of diabetes are:
TYPE 1: Affecting around 130,000 Australians, type 1 diabetes occurs when your body’s immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing blood glucose levels to rise to dangerous levels. Type 1 has a strong genetic link, and cannot be prevented. People with type 1 must have insulin every day, given via injection or an insulin pump. There is currently no cure for type 1, but medical advancements are being made every day!
TYPE 2: This is the most common form of diabetes worldwide, with 849,000 cases in Australia alone. It is caused by your pancreas not producing enough insulin, or your body not responding to the insulin produced in your pancreas. Type 2 has no single cause, but major risk factors include carrying excess weight particularly around the middle, not getting enough exercise and eating an unhealthy poor diet, as well as having a family history of diabetes, or being from certain ethnic backgrounds. It can often initially be managed with diet and exercise, but most people will need medication, and possibly insulin, with time.
GESTATIONAL: Between 5 and 10% of women will develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It is recommended that all women are tested for gestational diabetes around 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, but earlier if you are at higher risk. Risk factors include being overweight, over 25, having a family history of type 2, being of certain ethnic background and having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Gestational diabetes typically disappears after you give birth, however, mothers who have had it have an increased risk of type 2 later in life.
PRE-DIABETES: Two million Australians currently have pre-diabetes, which is the precursor to type 2. With prediabetes, your glucose levels are higher than normal, but aren’t high enough for you to be classified as having type 2. If caught early enough, lifestyle interventions like making changes to your diet or exercise regime, and losing weight is you are overweight, can prevent pre-diabetes from progressing to type 2.
Stay on top of diabetes!
No matter what kind of diabetes you have, the goal is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Good health = better diabetes management = feeling more in control! Diabetes Australia suggests making these strategies a part of your everyday life:
· Test your blood glucose levels regularly. This is important for those with type 1, people with type 2 who are taking insulin and women with gestational diabetes. If you have type 2 and are not taking insulin, speak to your doctor or diabetes educator about whether you need to monitor your blood glucose levels at home.
· Always take your insulin (for those who require it).
· If your doctor gives you tablets to help manage your diabetes, blood pressure and/or cholesterol, be sure to take them.
· Be as active as you can as often as you can.
· Follow a healthy eating plan.
· Achieve and maintain a healthier body weight and shape.
· Keep a positive mental attitude.
· Don’t be afraid to ask for help as soon as you feel you need it!
And pick up a copy of Diabetic Living magazine! It’s your one-stop shop for healthy recipes, dietitian-approved weekly menu planners, plus ideas for helping you lose weight, increase finess and improve your blood glucose levels! Find it in your local supermarket or newsagency, buy it online through Google Play or the App Store, or purchase a subscription through our website.