Reduce the threat of diabetes

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are living with undiagnosed diabetes. That’s on top of the estimated 3.9m known sufferers.

Type 2 diabetes can be extremely serious with sufferers 50% more likely to die prematurely. The signs are not always obvious and the disease can come on slowly, usually over the age of 40, so it might take many years before someone knows they’re affected.

Opticians and optometrists are particularly aware of diabetes as one of the symptoms frequently complained about is blurred vision. Indeed, diabetes can be identified during a comprehensive eye exam.

And a complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, is one of the leading causes of blindness amongst working-age adults in the UK. We’ve written previously about Eye problems caused by diabetes.

Diabetes Week

That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors. This week, June 14-20, is Diabetes Week 2021, when the British Diabetic Association raises awareness and highlights what we can all do to reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.

Age, family history, and ethnicity can contribute to someone’s risk, but the biggest factor is obesity.

With poor diet being such a major contributor to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, the good news is that some simple steps can help us reduce the threat.

Here are six ways we can look after ourselves.

Cut down on salt
Lots of processed foods already contain salt. Check food labels and choose those with less salt in them (try for a maximum of 6g of salt a day). When cooking, use different herbs and spices to add in extra flavour rather than salt.

Keep going with healthier snacks
When we’re peckish it’s all too easy to reach into the biscuit tin for something chocolatey. But we know they’re not the best option for our waistlines and general health. Resist the temptation and go for something like unsweetened yoghurts, unsalted nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Be sensible about alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol puts you at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Aim to stick below the current guidelines of 14 units per week. That’s about six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. The advice is also to spread them out over several days, rather than ‘binge’.

Reduce the red meat
Popular red and processed meats like bacon, sausages and ham are all associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Try to get the protein you need for a balanced diet from healthier staples such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans and lentils.

Avoid sugary drinks
If you’ve a liking for sweet, fizzy drinks, look out for diet or low-calorie versions and check there’s no added sugar. Better still, keep hydrated with water, or tea and coffee without sugar.

Go for healthier fats
Saturated fats can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, raising the risk of problems. These fats are mainly found in animal products and prepared food such as processed meat, biscuits, cakes, sweets, pies and pastries. Olive oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil are all much healthier alternatives.

Want to know more?

There’s lots of information over on the website or follow #DiabetesStories on social media.