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Globally, 463million people have diabetes out of which 19million are in Africa according to International Diabetes Federation (IDF). In Nigeria, more than 2million adults have diabetes and it has been discovered that close to 80% of cases are undiagnosed. Here are 8 facts you should know about Type 2 diabetes!

1. It is the most common type of Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all cases of Diabetes. Other types of diabetes are Type 1 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body cells cannot use insulin (needed to convert glucose to energy) produced properly, resulting in high glucose concentration in the blood. Obesity and Physical Inactivity have been greatly linked to Type 2 Diabetes. Other risk factors include age,  family history of Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, prediabetes, and hypertension.

2. Prediabetes, which is the first stage of Type 2 diabetes is reversible!

Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. At this stage, the fasting blood glucose test is 100 to 125 mg/dL (normal is <100; diabetes is 126 or higher) and A1c test is 5.7% to 6.4% mg/dL (normal is < 5.7% ; diabetes is 6.5% or higher). Prediabetes is fully reversible! In fact, take it as a fighting chance against type 2 diabetes, which is why it must be detected early through screening as it presents no symptoms. Many studies have proven prediabetes can be reversed through  modest weight loss, healthy eating, and increased physical activity (Your dietitian can help you achieve this!)

3. Type 2 Diabetes also affects children and adolescents!

Although Type 1 diabetes is more associated with children, research studies show that Type 2 diabetes is fast occurring in children and adolescents and this is due to higher rates of childhood obesity.

4. Signs and symptoms often go unnoticed.

Most people with Type 2 diabetes usually go undiagnosed for years until complications arise. This is because symptoms can be so mild that people affected barely notice. These include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive eating
  • Tiredness/Fatigue
  • Unintentional Weight loss
  • Increased risk of infection

5. It is advised that individuals above 45years should get tested!

It is recommended that adults above 45years should get tested as age is one of the main risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Also, get tested if;

  • Overweight/Obese
  • Physically inactive
  • Have a relative with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Have a previous history of Gestational Diabetes.
  • Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Hypertensive

6. It can cause serious problems if left untreated.

Untreated diabetes can result in damage of both small and large blood vessels in the blood and cause kidney failure, vision loss, leg amputation, and nerve damage. Also, people with diabetes have a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

7. There is currently no cure for type 2 diabetes.

Although many drugs and supplements have been promoted as cures for Type 2 diabetes, none has been proven safe for use. Type 2 diabetes can however be managed through dietary management, lifestyle modification, and drug therapy. The starting point of good management is an early diagnosis, leading to early intervention and prevention of complications.

8. People with Type 2 diabetes can eat almost all types of food!

There are lots of misconceptions that people with diabetes have to avoid carbohydrate foods as much as possible and take more protein, this is untrue! People with Type 2 diabetes can enjoy all types of foods like every other person however in controlled portions. Generally, foods containing simple sugars or refined carbs should be substituted for whole grains cereals and starchy vegetables such as whole-grain cereals, brown rice, potatoes, maize, beans, and green leafy vegetables which are not easily broken down to glucose in the body. People with diabetes can also track their carb intake through carbohydrate counting (1 carb serving = 15g). Your dietitian can make sure you don’t exceed your carb servings per meal, usually 2-4 servings for women and 3-5 servings for men. Also, engaging in physical activity 3-5 times a week helps to improve insulin uptake in the body and is therefore very important in managing Type 2 Diabetes.

Summary:

The occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes is rapidly rising even in African countries. Early diagnosis results in better management, Get tested if you are above 45years or at risk of Type 2 Diabetes and consult your dietitian on carbohydrate and portion size control for effective management.

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