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World Diabetes Day: Access to Care Made Easy

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Every individual is entitled to good health and wellbeing. To ensure healthy living, accessibility to medications and other health facilities are of vital importance. Today, in many parts of the world, people do not have the opportunity to realise their needs. Drawing inspiration from this vacuum is the theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day, ‘Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When?’ 

World Diabetes Day is celebrated around the world on 14th November, on the occasion of Sir Frederick Banting’s birthday. Sir Frederick Banting discovered Insulin in collaboration with Charles Best in 1922. This date was chosen for the launch of WDD in the year 1991 by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation. 

Diabetes is hailed as a silent killer due to the health complications it brings about. Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic condition characterised by high levels of blood sugar. According to a report by the World Health Organization, more than a million deaths took place in 2019 due to diabetes. Diabetes is the major cause of heart attacks, stroke, blindness and kidney failure. 

So, on the occasion of World Diabetes Day 2021, let us discuss how you can stay healthy if you are living with diabetes.  

Risk factors and causes

When we come to the causes of diabetes, there are two types to elaborate on; type 1 and type 2. 

The reason why type 1 diabetes occurs is unknown. What little can be gathered is that the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas which are responsible for producing insulin. This leads to an insulin deficit in the body while sugar starts to accumulate in the bloodstream. 

For type 2 diabetes, the causes are categorised into two which are also interrelated:

  • Cells become insulin resistant and do not take in the requisite amount of sugar
  • The pancreas fails to produce the required amount of insulin leading to high blood sugars. 

Some risk factors that can make you more prone to type 2 diabetes are as follows:

  • Weight: Obesity and weight gain pose a great risk. This includes fat accumulation in the abdomen area.
  • Not being active enough: Sufficient physical activity daily regulates your weight and uses the excess glucose for energy. This makes cells more insulin sensitive. 
  • Family history: You are at risk of diabetes if your grandparents, parents and siblings are diagnosed with it. 
  • Age: Middle-aged people after the age of 45 are at risk of diabetes. 
  • Pregnancy: If you had gastrointestinal diabetes during your pregnancy, you can develop type 2 diabetes later on. 
  • Excessive alcohol and smoking.

Warning signs

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have the following warning signs:

  • The body depends on food for energy. The carbohydrate from food is converted into glucose that is used up by the cells. When the body is not able to meet the insulin demand, the glucose will not be able to pass into the cells. This makes you more hungry and fatigued than normal. 
  • Since a diabetic tends to pee a lot, the body gets dehydrated. This might make your mouth and your overall skin dry and itchy. 
  • A diabetic person will experience blurred vision and will have difficulty focussing. 
  • As the glucose doesn’t get used up by the cells, a diabetic person will be highly susceptible to yeast infections. Such infections will generally develop under the breast area, the gap between toes and fingers and in intimate areas such as around the sex organs.
  • A slow rate of healing for cuts and sores. 
  • Painful sensation in the legs or feet is another indication of nerve damage
  • Skin Darkening: If you have velvety, dark patches of darkened skin in the areas around your neck and armpit, it could be an indication of insulin resistance. 

Foods to include and foods to avoid

Diabetic people need to pay special care and attention to what they are putting inside their body as what you eat can spike your blood sugar level and put your health in jeopardy. It is believed that the diet plan recommended for someone with diabetes is the ideal diet plan for all for a healthier life. 

  • Fatty fish: Regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids reduces chances of inflammation. you have a lower risk of heart attacks. 
  • Leafy Greens: Broccoli, kale and spinach are good sources of fibre, vitamin C and antioxidants 
  • Eggs: Eggs are highly versatile, extremely nutritious, filling and a powerhouse of protein and essential vitamins. Eggs have also been found to better insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and improve good cholesterol. 
  • Chia Seeds: These seeds are a great alternative for vegetarians or vegans, diagnosed with diabetes but unable to gather their omega-3 fatty acid requirement from fish. Chia seeds and flax seeds are fibre-dense, low in carbohydrates and can help to decrease blood pressure and inflammation. 
  • Nuts: Good source of fibre, healthy fat but low in carbohydrates, nuts are nutritious, filling and tasty. Nuts are good for heart health which is a requirement since diabetes makes you prone to coronary conditions. 

While some foods will regulate your blood sugar levels, keep inflammation under control, others will do just the opposite and put you at risk of diabetes-induced health complications. Some of these are:

  • Trans fat: trans fat is extremely unhealthy for all. These foods include all pre-packed items such as creamers, spreads, peanut butter that use unsaturated fat. These are termed unhealthy fat and increase bad cholesterol levels. 
  • White Pasta/Rice/bread: all of these use refined flour, are processed and are high in carbohydrates. 
  • Fruit Flavoured Yoghurt: Though plain yoghurt is recommended to diabetics as a good source of calcium and protein, fruit flavoured versions of the same are strictly not advisable as they contain high amounts of sugar. This can lead to a spike in insulin level and increased blood sugar. 
  • Breakfast Cereals: Cereals might be one of the easiest and preferred breakfast options for all, but be aware that these are highly calorific due to sugar content and are anything but healthy. 
  • Fruit Juices: Packaged fruit juices are high in sugar and low in nutrition. Should you wish to drink a glass of fruit juice, always aim to replace your craving with a fresh seasonal whole fruit and not the juice. 

Exercises

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, exercising regularly is highly recommended to keep both your weight and blood sugar under control. Here are 5 easy exercises that you can easily incorporate into your daily regime for about 30 minutes or so. 

Dangers of not managing diabetes

Diabetes if left untreated can be lethal and complicated. It can either directly or indirectly weaken your bodily system. Below are some ways that diabetes can slowly break down your organs. 

  •  Diabetes can create several issues with your blood vessels and heart
  • Diabetes puts you at risk of increased eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. 
  • You are at risk of kidney failure and the telltale sign of this is that you will notice your feet and legs swelling more than usual. 
  •  If you do not have your diabetes under control you will experience gum issues and frequent infections
  • It can affect your nervous system- tingling numbness in feet, urinary incontinence, memory loss, indigestion. 

If you are living with diabetes, a few lifestyle tweaks can keep you safe, healthy and out of unnecessary complications. 

Diabetes care

Diabetes is a complicated condition but one that can be kept under control. To lead a healthy life with your family, here is what you should do. 

  • Follow a healthy diet as advised by your dietician or doctor
  • Monitor your blood sugar daily (before and after you exercise)
  • Refrain from smoking and alcohol
  • Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol by not stressing too much and taking your prescribed medications on time
  • Visit your ophthalmologist at least once every year 
  • Pay attention to your body parts for any unusual skin darkening, swelling or infections 
  • Take your oral health into your stride as diabetes can wreak havoc with your gums and teeth. 
  • Eat healthily and timely.

India’s toll-free diabetes helpline

In case of any emergency or treatment-related inquiry, you can call on the following toll-free number: 1800 121 2096

Conclusion

Living with diabetes can be stressful and frustrating at times due to the number of dietary restrictions one has to follow every day but rest assured that it is possible. With proper emotional and mental support from your loved ones, you can lead a healthy and normal life. Furthermore, due to the active efforts on the part of the government to spread awareness and the wider availability of medications provided by online pharma giants such as PharmEasy, buying medications and other diabetes-related kits and essentials have become easy, fun and less time-consuming. 

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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