Never a better time than now to lower risk of diabetes
THERE'S no silver bullet for curing Type 2 diabetes, but there are some ways to reduce your chance of being diagnosed with the surprisingly common condition.
The ABS reports about one in six Australians aged over 65 have diabetes, with the most common being Type 2. The highest prevalence of diabetes is in people aged 85 and over.
There are risk factors for contracting diabetes - some can be managed, some can't. Controlling blood pressure, eating better and keeping active are the cornerstones of good management.
"There are things that we can't do anything about," diabetes educator and registered nurse Myles Clarkson-Fletcher said. "They are genetics, and as we get older our body becomes less able to deal with blood glucose levels as efficiently as it used to. Age is also a big risk factor."
Other risks are gestational diabetes and a family history of diabetes.
"Being unhealthy, putting on weight; that's not what diabetes is about," he said. "Everyone who puts on weight doesn't get diabetes."
Why bother? Well, diabetes is a condition that can have significant impact on a long list of chronic health conditions including heart attack and stroke, kidney damage, vision loss, nerve damage (neuropathy) and delayed wound healing which can lead also to lower limb amputation.
- Dealing with your blood sugar levels sooner rather than later can delay the onset or slow the progression of complications.
So, once you hit 65, get an annual screen to understand your risk. This can can done online using the free AUSDRISK screening tool at health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/diabetesRiskAssessmentTool, or have a blood test.
- Get started on eating a healthy diet. A dietician can guide you on what comprises a healthy diet based on your diabetes screening test results.
"There is no special diet, no magic," Mr Clarkson-Fletcher said.
"It's not just about sweets and treats. It's about all the carbohydrates you eat."
- Stay active using resistance work. An exercise physiologist can devise a program for you.
- Talk to a diabetes educator who can help you to understand what impact diabetes can have on you short and long-term, what small changes you can make, and what medication choices suit you.
"There is a really strong relationship between depression and diabetes, and all forms of dementia and diabetes," Mr Clarkson-Fletcher also advises.
For more information, diabetesaustralia.com.au or phone the helpline 1300 136 588.