Diabetes is a chronic disease that can impact your everyday life, wellbeing, and mental health. You may have heard about diabetes; maybe you even know someone who has it. But, did you know there are various types of diabetes? While some forms of this disease occur naturally and are out of your control, others can be prevented by making changes to our routines.
According to Diabetes UK, over 4.9 million people in the UK alone have diabetes. In contrast, 13.6 million people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. Without treatment, diabetes can lead to significant health issues, including blindness, heart disease and stroke.
Finding a way to prevent diabetes is much more beneficial for your wellness and physical wellbeing in the long run.
What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that causes blood sugar (glucose) levels to become too high. When this happens, it is because your pancreas isn't producing enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced isn't working correctly. Insulin is an essential hormone that helps manage blood sugar levels and is vital for our overall wellbeing.
There are various types of diabetes, each as serious as the last, but the three main types of diabetes are:
Type 1 diabetes: a severe autoimmune condition whereby the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin. Type 1 diabetes often develops in childhood but can develop at any age. There are believed to be various factors which cause this type of diabetes, such as environment and genes, but it isn't currently clear what the specific cause is.
Type 2 diabetes: the most common form of diabetes, accounting for around 90% of all cases. This occurs when your pancreas isn't able to produce any or enough insulin, so blood sugar levels rise. Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle and can generally be prevented.
Gestational diabetes: this form of diabetes only happens during pregnancy and usually disappears after the baby is born. Even women who have never had issues with diabetes before can develop gestational diabetes.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes?
Alongside raised blood sugar levels, diabetes can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Extreme thirst
- Passing urine more frequently than usual, often increased at night
- Feeling tired all the time
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
- Recurring thrush
If you experience any of the above symptoms, you must speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. They will be able to offer you a diabetes test to determine whether or not you have the condition.
Implications of Diabetes
If you have diabetes and it's left untreated, it can lead to some profound health implications. These can include:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Kidney disease
- Nerve damage
- Foot problems, which could lead to amputation in serious cases
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is manageable with the correct treatment but can impact your life in several ways. You will be required to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly, may need to take medication and make some changes to your diet. Also, the fluctuations in blood sugar levels diabetes causes can negatively affect your mental health and mood.
It's essential to catch diabetes early on and find a way to prevent it, where possible, before it starts.
How Can You Prevent Diabetes?
So, we now understand that there are various forms of diabetes, and while some cannot be avoided, others can be prevented by making minor changes to your lifestyle.
If you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, there are some wellness changes you can make to lower your chances, such as:
Strive for a Healthy Weight
If you are overweight or obese, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases. To lower your risk, aim to lose weight gradually by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle. We understand that losing weight can be challenging, but it is worth it for your long-term health and wellbeing.
Consider What You Eat
What we eat significantly impacts our overall health, so it's vital to ensure we are eating a balanced and healthy diet. To further decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, fill up on whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein. You should also limit your intake of saturated and trans fat, salt, and sugar.
Add Movement To Your Routine
Regular exercise is important for our overall wellness and can help to prevent type 2 diabetes. Exercise isn't just going to the gym - it could be a brisk walk, cycle or swimming! Adults should incorporate around 30 minutes of daily activity into their routine, and children should strive for 60 minutes.
Adding exercise into your routine is not just a way to help prevent diabetes; it is also excellent for our wellbeing and mental health.
As you can see, the main preventative measures for reducing our risk of developing diabetes centre around one central point: living a healthy lifestyle.
It's often easier said than done to make these changes, but even small changes can have a big impact on our health in the long term. Breaking old habits and replacing them with fresh, wellness-based approaches does take time, but it will be worth it for your health!
If you're struggling to get started, here are some tips to help you on your way:
- Make a plan and set realistic goals
- Join a weight loss support group
- Start small and build up gradually
- Get professional help if you need it
Final Thoughts on How to Prevent Diabetes Before It Starts
Diabetes is a serious condition that can have a big impact on our lives, but making some lifestyle changes can lower our risk of developing it. The best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is by making choices which will benefit your wellbeing - this means maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced and nutritious diet and being active every day.
If you think you might be at risk of developing diabetes, speak to your doctor or healthcare professional. They will be able to offer you advice and support on how to lower your risk and live a healthier, wellness-focused life.