- Professor Rotimi Jaiyesimi
CAN DIABETES BE PREVENTED?
Diabetes is a condition in which the blood sugar levels in the blood is too high due to insulin hormone deficiency. Dangerously high levels damage the body organs and can cause death. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million adult cases of diabetes in Nigeria.
There is also a condition called pre-diabetes, which is characterized by being overweight and having higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, through lab testing. Pre-diabetes is a strong predictor for an individual’s future likelihood of developing diabetes. Too much blood sugar circulating in the arteries of people with pre-diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels.
Pre-diabetes and overt diabetes are among major contributors to the development of coronary artery disease. Coronary artery - the vessels taking blood to the heart - disease is one of the leading cause of death in our country and therefore if diabetes could be prevented, then it follows that death rates from heart (coronary artery) disease could be lowered.
Research study published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that people with pre-diabetes, who are able to lose about 7 percent of their body weight through healthy eating habits and exercise, dramatically reduced their chances of developing diabetes in the future. Participants in the study reduced their weight by eating less fat and sugar, resulting in fewer calories. In addition, they exercised for a minimum of 150 minutes per week in order to lose about 7 percent of their body weight and to maintain that reduced weight.
CHECKING FOR DIABETES
It is recommended that people who are overweight, age 45 or older and have one or more of the following risk factors: being physically inactive, having a first-degree relative who has diabetes, having given birth to a baby that weighs more than 9 pounds, having high blood pressure, having polycystic ovary syndrome or having a history of cardiovascular disease (The American Diabetes Association). The Nigerian Diabetic Association is of the opinion that diabetic clinics can be set up at primary care level with input from medical officers and trained nurses.
Important steps to take to reduce the risks of developing diabetes or bringing your diabetes under control are to watch your diet (not go on a diet) by eating the appropriate low-calorie food and moderate portions. It is said that one’s portion of food (Eba, Fufu, Starch, Amala, Pounded Yam. Rice etc) should not be more that the size of your clenched fist. Exercises such as jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing etc help with the prevention of diabetes.
Not only does treating diabetes have a drain on one's income from purchasing medication,
it also causes premature death.
CAN DIABETES BE PREVENTED? The answer is an emphatic YES. So, please act.