National diabetes week runs from the 13th – 19th of July. With 2 million Australian’s at high risk of type 2 diabetes, it is the aim of the campaign to raise awareness of the condition, its prevalence and its prevention. The table below shows the increase in the prevalence of diabetes from 1989 to 2012.
Figure 1: Trend in prevalence of diabetes, Australia 1989-1990 to 2011-2012
Sourced from: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
What is type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is classified as an autoimmune disease. It is normally diagnosed during infancy or adolescence. This is why you may have heard it referred to as ‘juvenile diabetes’. This type of diabetes occurs because the pancreas cannot produce an adequate supply of insulin. This is due to the body’s own immune system destroying the cells that produce insulin (this is characteristic of an auto-immune disease). We need insulin to help glucose move out of the blood and in to different cells for use as energy.
Type 1 diabetes is far less common than type 2.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is much more common and is not an auto immune disease. Type 2 diabetes can occur when:
- The pancreas does not produce enough insulin
- The insulin does not work effectively
- The body’s cells do not have the appropriate response to the insulin produced – insulin resistance
This type of diabetes is most common in adults over 45. However, the age that we are seeing it develop is becoming younger. Now even young children and adolescents are being diagnosed. This is likely due to our changing lifestyles. Type 2 diabetes can be largely preventable!
Did you know that three out of five people who have diabetes also have cardiovascular disease?
It is not necessary to completely avoid carbohydrates or sugars if you have diabetes or if you want to prevent it. To learn more about this, see my blog on ‘diabetes and carbohydrates’.
Prevention of diabetes is in line with the prevention of many other lifestyle related disease. It involves:
- Weight reduction if necessary and prevention of overweight or obesity
- Regular exercise
- A diet that is low in saturated fat and moderate in mono/poly unsaturated fats
- Avoidance of “extra” foods and foods with added sugar e.g. pastries, lollies, chocolate, chips, soft drinks
- Choose low salt foods. Many packaged products are high in sodium so try to create meals from fresh ingredients. A ‘low salt’ product is considered as having <120mg of sodium per 100g. Aim to get as close to this as possible – though it will be difficult for some foods
- Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all
What you should include in your diet?
- Drink plenty of water and keep soft drinks, cordials, alcohol and juice as ‘only sometimes’ drinks.
- Eat a variety of fresh fruits (2 serves per day) and vegetables (5 serves per day) – different types and colours
- Choose lean meats and trim any visible fat off
- Eat 2 – 3 serves of fish per week
- Include legumes and nuts in your diet
- Choose wholegrain cereals e.g. wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, oats
- Fat reduced dairy products and dairy alternatives
The above tips are not only good for the prevention of diabetes but they are also essential in managing it. Type 2 diabetes can be managed very effectively by eating a healthy diet and exercising. In many cases this alone can control blood glucose levels and prolong the amount of time before requiring oral medication or insulin.
- Diabetes Australia Vic. National Diabetes Week. Diabetes Australia Vic. 2008.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Diabetes. Australian Government. 2013.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have questions about diabetes or other nutrition related issues, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.