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“But I only have a touch of sugar”

This is a statement that we still hear today in relation to type 2 diabetes. 

Through extensive research it has been found that the first 10-15 years after diagnosis are the most important time to help prevent complications from the condition.

During this time there are usually no acute signs of illness so it is often ignored or forgotten.  People may find that they feel a little run down, they run out of energy in the early afternoon and their reasoning for this is often a busy lifestyle, getting old or just feeling lazy.

What they don’t realise that they are symptoms of their body being unable to use the energy supply of glucose due to their diabetes and results in high blood glucose levels (high blood sugars). This is like running a car with a blocked petrol line, the fuel is there you just can’t use it.

When we have constantly high blood sugars that are above 10 mmol we are increasing the risk of complications.  These prolonged high levels cause damage to our blood vessels and nerves resulting in such things as loss of feeling in our feet and damage to our kidneys and eyes as well as many other areas.

This damage is permanent and irreversible. There are treatments to slow/stop the progression but “we can’t fix what is broken already!”

 So what can you do to minimize the risk of complications?

  • Be aware that it is your condition and you need to take charge and manage your diabetes.
  • Try to keep your blood sugars low. If you aren’t testing then ensure you eat a healthy balanced diet low in added sugars and fats. Eat plenty of vegetables and only 2 pieces of fruit.
    (Fruit contains natural sugars and too much is not good for controlling blood glucose levels.
  • Be aware of portion sizes.
  • Exercise regularly- 30 minutes at least 5 days a weeks is the target but 10 minutes is better than nothing and 3 x 10 walks a day is achievable and just as good as a 30 minute walk. Strive for moderate intensity when exercising if possible. If walking – you should be able to speak normally but not be able to sing.
  • If you need help, speak to your doctor who can refer you to a dietitian or exercise physiologist via a care plan or privately if you have cover.  Ask them to refer you to see myself for some more education.
  • Visit the Diabetes SA or NDSS website  for information.  They also run supermarket tours to help with making healthy food choices and they also have other information sessions.

Remember you are in control but you don’t have to do it alone.

Helen Potts is a Registered Nurse within the Windsor Village & Oakden Medical Centres.

With thanks to our new partners

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