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Reduce your diabetes risk

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

As South Africa marks World Diabetes Day this Wednesday, recent data from the International Diabetes Federation estimates that 3.85-million South Africans have diabetes, with a large portion of them undiagnosed.This equates to an estimated 7% of adults aged between 21 and 79.

According to Renny Letswalo, managing director at Cambridge Weight Plan, diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputations.

“Diabetes can increase your risk of many serious health problems, most of which are entirely preventable if you keep your blood glucose in a healthy range,” said Letswalo.

“As we mark World Diabetes Day this November 14, we look at how we can reduce our risk,” she said.

Offering tips to reduce the risk of diabetes, Letswalo said people should reduce excessive body fat.

“Excessive weight is a big risk factor for diabetes, and interestingly every kilogram of weight lost is said to reduce the risk by 16%,” said Letswalo.

Weight loss is a common recommendation for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Many people are overweight when they are first diagnosed, and that extra fat is the cause of their insulin resistance.”

She also advise a plant-based, low calorie diet.“Choose to eat a variety of vegetables, as research shows this reduces diabetes risks. Avoid foods rich in trans and saturated fat and sugar,” Letswalo said.

“The elimination of sugar and flour is strongly recommended. Type 2 diabetics should not be consuming refined carbohydrates at all in order to avoid their glucose spiking,” she advised.

“Fizzy and sugary drinks have been linked with obesity and diabetes, so instead drink water to reduce your risk,” she said.

“Not exercising increases your chances of diabetes. Even a simple brisk walk can do the trick,” she said.

According to Letswalo, when people are stressed the body releases several hormones that increase blood sugar.“Choose to meditate regularly to improve your ability to cope with stress, or make time to do things you enjoy,” added Letswalo.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98