Healthy Tip: Happy Birthday Frederick
14 November marks the birthday of Frederick Banting who discovered insulin almost 100 years ago. Every year on this date World Diabetes Day aims to raise awareness of diabetes and what it’s like to live with the condition. This year’s theme is all about family, so make a team effort to identify and reduce risks early.
Two types of diabetes are known to affect blood vessels, circulation and the heart:
Type 1 diabetes is a serious autoimmune disease which attacks the pancreas and prevents it producing insulin causing a harmful surge of glucose in the blood. Although type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented it can be managed with correct medication along with a heart healthy lifestyle.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by an inability of the body’s own insulin to keep up with its demands, usually as a result of obesity, particularly around the waistline.
Heart Research UK has some useful advice to help ward off your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease as they are closely linked:
- Prevention better than cure
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are largely preventable and can be reversed. If you’re over 40, ask your local GP for an NHS health check. It’s quick, simple and free and will give you a risk score of developing coronary heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes. At any age it’s important to contact your GP if you notice the following common warning signs:
– needing to go to the toilet a lot
– feeling especially thirsty
– feeling unusually tired
– unexplained weight loss
- Move more
You don’t need to start a gym membership to get slightly out of breath and warm, it might be as simple as taking the kids to collate leaves for an autumnal collage or starting a DIY project at home, just keep moving. Physical activity helps regulate blood glucose, improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Up the pace and keep active most days to benefit from a healthier weight and waistline
- Carbs aren’t the enemy
Whilst it’s a good idea to cut down on ‘free sugars’ added to foods and limit fruit juice to a small glass, potatoes and wholegrain varieties of rice, pasta and bread are far from the enemy when it comes to heart health. These carbs are an excellent source of heart-healthy fibre which helps to control blood glucose and cholesterol levels. To avoid calorie overload give the butter a miss, cook with small amounts of rapeseed oil and keep an eye on portion sizes
- It’s in the jeans
Being ‘apple’ shaped is strongly associated with a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Your jean size could be a helpful warning size, but isn’t an accurate measure of risk. Dig out a measuring tape and place it halfway between the bottom of your rib cage and top of your hip bone- about where your belly button is. A healthy target is less than 80cm for women, less than *90cm for men
*This target covers an average male population. Men of Asian ethnicity have lower boundaries (88cm) than those of white Caucasian background (94cm) due to higher risks of diabetes and heart disease. If in doubt, seek advice from your GP.
Check your diabetes risk score online today and turn this around by eating better and moving more. Take a moment to think about how many birthdays you would like ahead of you and make simple changes now to enjoy healthier happier years to come.