Diabetes is a cardiometabolic disease where your body can’t properly control blood sugar levels. It happens because, either your pancreas isn’t making enough of the hormone called insulin, or your body isn’t very good at using the insulin that your pancreas has created. Insulin is what your body uses to move glucose out of your food and into your cells in order to create energy.

This is a serious chronic disease which, if left unmanaged, can be life threatening. November is the month designated for diabetes action. 14 November is World Diabetes Day.

There are two types

  • Type 1 diabetes is when your body doesn’t make insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin.
  • With type 2 diabetes your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body doesn’t know what to do with the insulin (insulin resistance). It’s more common than type 1 diabetes.
  • It’s also possible for pregnant women to develop diabetes. It’s called gestational diabetes and often resolves itself once the baby has arrived.

What can increase the risk of developing diabetes?

Some people have a greater risk of developing diabetes than others. A greater risk doesn’t mean you will develop diabetes. It just means you have to be more vigilant and counteract the risk factors. Known risk factors include:

  • you are aged over 30 and of Maori, Asian, Middle Eastern or Pacific descent
  • you are aged over 40 and of European descent
  • there is a family history of diabetes
  • you have high blood pressure
  • you are overweight
  • you are a woman with an abdominal circumference that is greater than 88 cm (35 inches) or you are a man with an abdominal circumference that is greater than 102 cm (40 inches)
  • your doctor tells you that you are pre-diabetic (this means you have high blood sugar)
  • you had high blood sugar when you were pregnant or you have had high blood sugar in the past

How can you reduce your risk of developing diabetes?

The key to reducing your risk is to move your body, eat a wide variety of healthy foods with an added focus on foods that are green and that have a low glycaemic index.

Move your body
my favourite exercise – getting out in the garden

Find ways to move more. Do something you enjoy. Get out in the garden, go for a walk, join an exercise or dance class. It all counts.

Begin a programme with the goal of reducing tummy fat by combining great nutrition, appropriate levels of hydration (water rather than soda) and most importantly, reduce your stress levels. High stress tends to show up through increased abdominal fat.

Work with a health professional to get your blood pressure down. The great news is that by reducing your abdominal circumference, ensuring you are staying hydrated and moving more; your blood pressure will reduce.