World Diabetes Day 2018

The 14th of November is World Diabetes Day. Appropriately, it also happens to be Frederick Banting’s birthday, who, together with John Macleod and Charles Best, discovered insulin back in 1922.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease that occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the cells of your body use the sugar (glucose) found in food as energy.

If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, sugar builds up in your bloodstream instead of being used and excreted in your urine. Eventually, the high blood sugar caused by excessive amounts of glucose in the blood leads to a variety of complications that can affect your eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and heart.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Symptoms include excessive urination, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. This type of diabetes often occurs in children and teens.

Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin and generally occurs in adults, largely as a result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Because symptoms are less obvious, Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed late, once complications have already set in. Worryingly, this type of diabetes is starting to be diagnosed more frequently in children.

Gestational diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels rise in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Women usually recover once they have given birth.

What is the impact of diabetes?
According to the World Diabetes Organisation, the number of people with diabetes worldwide is expected to rise to 522 million by 2030. In South Africa, diabetes is the second largest killer after tuberculosis, with 5.4% of our population being diagnosed in 2017. However, with 1 in 2 people with diabetes remaining undiagnosed, this disease is definitely something to put on your watch list.

How can you get behind World Diabetes Day 2019?
This year, the World Diabetes Day theme is Diabetes concerns every family. Families have a very important role to play in preventing and treating the disease, given that 80% of adult onset diabetes is preventable through wise lifestyle choices and early detection.

Here are some tips for keeping your family in good shape:

• Make sure your diet is healthy and includes lots of fresh fruit and veggies.
• Check the nutritional breakdown on all packaged food and avoid those with a high sugar content.
• Get active and keep moving.
• Promote a healthy family lifestyle.
• Get your blood sugar tested annually.
• Learn about the symptoms of diabetes as a family.

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Photo by Shari Murphy on Unsplash


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