14 Nov 7 facts you should know about diabetes
It’s estimated that around 1.7 million Australians are living with this diabetes. Worryingly, one in two people don’t know that they have it. If left unmanaged, diabetes can lead to blindness, amputation, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. Diabetes contributed to 11% of deaths in Australia in 2017.
We want Aussie families to understand how to reduce their risk of developing diabetes, how to spot the warning signs, and how to manage diabetes if diagnosed.
Here are some simply facts that you and your family should know about diabetes:
1. There are different types of diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes – simply named type 1 and type 2. Both types have one thing in common – insulin (or a lack thereof). Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from the food that you eat for energy or to store it for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high or too low.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin. It’s commonly diagnosed in children and young adults and is has not been linked with lifestyle factors.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin. Unlike type 1 diabetes, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with lifestyle factors such as being physically active and eating well.
2. There are warning signs
Many people think there are no precursor to diabetes. In fact, many people who develop type 2 diabetes first get “prediabetes”. Prediabetes is a term used when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough that to be classified as type 2 diabetes. And yes, prediabetes can be reversed.
3. Being active reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes
No one know exactly what causes type 2 diabetes, but lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and inactive, strongly increase your risk. It’s important that all Australians aim to reach the recommended levels of physical activity.
It’s also important that parents lead by example to reduce their children’s’ risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research shows that children with at least one inactive parent are 68% more likely to be inactive themselves, and parents play a critical role in educating their children about the importance of physical activity.
4. Diabetes can also lead to secondary chronic conditions
Sadly, many people living with diabetes are also at an increased risk of experiencing and range of other chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
Being active can help to reduce your risk of developing comorbidities.
5. Exercise can help to manage diabetes
There’s no known cure for diabetes, but exercise can be powerful tool for managing this condition. Exercise can:
- Help insulin work more efficiently
- Maintain or achieve a healthy body composition
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Reduce stress
- Increase energy levels
- Enhance Mood
- Improve immunity
- Improve sleep
Adults who exercise regularly are less likely to experience diabetic retinopathy (eye condition) and microalbuminuria (sign of kidney damage).
6. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Australians have increased risk
Statistically, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are four times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Indigenous Australians. Luckily, there are Community Controlled Health Services specifically designed to help those who have been diagnosed. These facilities encourage cultural connections and knowledge translation between generations, to provide a safe place for clients to take control of their health. Staff and clients work together as a community to deliver comprehensive, culturally appropriate and strengths-based services.
7. Diabetes can also present during pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It’s the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting between 12% and 14% of pregnant women. It occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy and most women will no longer have diabetes after the baby is born.
Getting the right advice
Whether you’re currently inactive, at risk of diabetes or have been diagnosed with diabetes, exercise can help. But it’s important to get the right advice.
Exercise physiologists are specially trained to understand the complexities of this condition and can help you to exercise safely with diabetes.