The World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Diabetes Federation commemorated the first World Diabetes Day on 14 th November 1991. The idea was to make people aware of the health threat that diabetes posed. This year, as the world recovers from a pandemic and commemorates yet another World Diabetes Day, we thought we’d help you understand this disease a little bit better.
Conversations about diabetes are becoming increasingly important as more and more people are being diagnosed with this lifestyle disease. In 2019, the International Diabetes Federation reported that 463 million adults between the ages of 20 and 79 were living with diabetes. In the same year, it was estimated that 77 million adults in India were living with the disease. By 2030, they expect the number will rise to 134 million 1 ! To deal with the growing numbers, we need to educate ourselves on what the disease actually is and what we can do to prevent it.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that people experience when their blood sugar is too high. Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, is what gives us energy, making it vital to our existence. The glucose from the food we eat needs to be transferred to our cells so that we can convert it into energy. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that helps move the glucose from our blood to our cells. If your body cannot produce enough insulin or use the produced insulin correctly, you will develop diabetes.
Different Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
If your body does not make insulin at all, you have type 1 diabetes. This happens when your immune system attacks the pancreas cells responsible for the production of insulin. Typically, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in children and young adults, but it may appear later in life too. You will need to take insulin every day to manage your type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
On the other hand, if your body does not use insulin well, you can develop type 2 diabetes. This is most commonly seen and diagnosed in middle-aged and older adults. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes.
Sometimes, women develop diabetes when they’re pregnant. This is known as gestational diabetes. Once the baby is born, the blood sugar levels start to normalise. But, women who have had gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than others.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes depends on your genetic history and your lifestyle. Of course, you cannot change your age, ethnicity or family history, but you can manage your diet and levels of physical activity. Remember, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you:
- Are over the age of 45
- Are overweight
- Have high blood pressure
- Have a low HDL (good cholesterol) level and a high level of triglycerides
- Are not physically active
- Have has a stroke or have a history of heart disease
- Are depressed
- Have polycystic ovary
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
If you’re at risk of developing diabetes, there are a few things you can do to lower your risk. The best way to start is by being more physically active. This will help you lose weight and will help make your heart healthy. You can also watch your diet and avoid foods with empty calories. If you’re concerned that some medicines you’re taking right now may put you at risk, you can speak with your doctor and rectify the situation.