The number of people dignosed with Type 2 diabetes has more than doubled since the 1980s, and this number continues to grow in almost every part of the world.
In a large-scale study published in The Lancet last month, researchers found that rates of diabetes have either risen or at best remained the same in virtually all parts of the world in the past 30 years.
While Type 1 diabetes is an automimmune disorder, Type 2 is a preventable condition caused by factors such as diet and lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells of the body become ‘insulin resistant’, meaning that they are no longer able to take up sugar. As a result, sugar continues to circulate in the bloodstream where it can cause damage around the body.
The long term risks of diabetes include damage to the nerves, kidneys and retinas, as well as increased rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Many of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabates end up taking long-term prescription medications to control blood glucose levels.
The new study is the largest of its kind for diabetes, and was conducted by an international group of researchers in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.
It found that between 1980 and 2008, the number of adults with diabetes rose from 153 million to 347 million. Much of this rise was a result of population growth and longevity. However, 30% of the rise was due to higher prevalence. Currently 9.8% of men and 9.2% of women now suffer with Type 2 diabetes.
Goodarz Danaei, from the Harvard School of Public Health, added “Unless we develop better programs for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to improve their diet and physical activity and control their weight, diabetes will inevitably continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world.” These three simple changes to your diet can help reduce your risk of diabetes:
Cut the sugar
Refined carbohydrates cause sharp rises in your blood sugar levels. Over time this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
Start by replacing sugary foods with more healthy alternatives. Replace sugary sodas and energy drinks with herbal teas and green tea. Switch sweets and chocolate for a piece of fruit. Avoid sugary breakfast cereal and start the day with eggs on wholegrain toast or fruit and yoghurt.
Increase your fibre intake
A high fibre diet decreases your risk of diabetes, and you should aim for between 20 and 35g fibre each day.
Easy ways to increase your fibre intake include replacing fruit juice with a piece of fruit or a fruit smoothie, and replacing white pasta, rice and bread with wholegrain alternatives. You could also try a high fibre smoothie, such as BioCare’s Get Up and Go Low GL Breakfast Shake.
Add lean protein
Including a source of lean protein with each meal can help you to control your blood sugar.
Replace fatty and processed meats such as burgers, bacon and sausages with lean meats such as chicken and turkey. Other good sources of lean protein include eggs, cottage cheese, reduced fat hummus, tofu, and pulses such as beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Written by Nadia Mason
Goodarz Danaei et al. (2011) National, regional, and global trends in fasting plasma glucose and diabetes prevalence since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 370 country-years and 2.7 million participants. The Lancet. 378(9875):31-40