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Living with diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that stays with someone for the rest of his or her lives. It means that a person with diabetes from then on has to make certain lifestyle and diet changes in order to live as healthily a life as possible. People with diabetes have constant high levels of blood sugar (glucose) because their bodies cannot move the sugar out of the blood and into the liver for energy. Insulin plays a very important role in diabetes – it is the hormone produced by the pancreas that transports glucose from the blood to the liver, or fat or muscle cells.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 – there is not enough insulin made by the pancreas, and daily insulin injections are required. Type I diabetes is most common in children, and while the cause is unknown, there is likely a genetic connection. Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind, occurring mostly in adults, although it can emerge during childhood. It is where the body’s cells do not respond completely to insulin, and are therefore resistant to the effects of insulin. As a result, not enough glucose gets transported out of the blood and into the body’s cells for energy.

While the cause cannot always be exactly pinpointed, diabetes can frequently be a result of poor diet and nutrition. When diet leads to obesity, as a result of too much caloric intake, and/or too many sweets and meats, diabetes is a common result. With a proper diet and adequate nutrition, this disease can be managed successfully so that diabetics can live a happy and fulfilled life. If it is not managed, the disease can progress, and may even have connections with other diseases, like asthma, mesothelioma, and heart disease.

The first step is educating yourself about diabetes so that you understand the causes and effects that diabetes has on your life. Understanding the role that insulin and glucose play, and how those are related to what you eat is important. The next step is applying that knowledge to your lifestyle. Keep your protein intake low, or even consider going vegetarian or vegan. There are many doctors who support a plant-based, whole foods diet as a panacea for disease, and diabetes is not an exception to this. Eat foods with lower fat and salt content. This will help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol down. Eat more plants! Vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes all are packed with nutrients and will keep you feeling and living better.

Exercise is another vital component of managing diabetes. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day – this doesn’t have to mean signing up for a gym. You can take a brisk walk, or a pleasurable bike ride. Take dance lessons, or go bowling. Make exercise fun, and you will not even notice that you are exercising!

Diabetes is a growing epidemic throughout the world. Many consider this to be an effect that the Western diet has had as it has gained popularity in less developed countries. Introducing a healthier diet and making exercise an integral part of our communities can fight this trend. Diabetes doesn’t have to mean the end of the world – in fact, it can even be a wake up call, to begin a healthier, happier lifestyle.

– Jackie Clark @jakieClrk

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.