This year marks 100 years since the groundbreaking discovery of insulin by Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best, which has since gone on to save many countless lives. This act is commemorated annually on 14 November through World Diabetes Day, which aims to draw global awareness to diabetes and educate the public on how to take appropriate steps to alleviate the issue.
Locally, Diabetes remains a major public health concern with one in three individuals in Singapore at risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime. If nothing is done, by 2050, the Ministry of Health (MOH) estimates that about one million Singaporeans will be living with diabetes. As such, how can seniors manage diabetes or younger adults cope with the upcoming festive season? Here are 5 useful tips from an expert!
1. Meal planning and eating healthy
Consuming nutrient dense meals and healthy well-balanced daily meals that focus on fresh ingredients with an emphasis on healthy sources of fat, good protein, high calcium/ vitamin D, soft vegetables, and using fresh soft fruit instead of juices. For seniors, caregivers should consider comprehensive quality over quantity meal planning with a registered Dietician that is specifically tailored to their senior’s preferences in order to achieve acceptable healthy glucose levels and to avoid getting hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
2. Stay active
Staying active plays a huge part in diabetes management. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling can help to control your glucose level and manage your weight. It is recommended that a healthy person engages in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week or 20 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity 3 or more days a week. In addition, do strength training such as free weights, resistance bands, or yoga, at least 2 times a week. Strength training builds muscles and helps control glucose levels. Talk to a doctor for recommendations on the right exercises for you.
3. Replace sweetened drinks with water
Replace sweet drinks with high calcium beverages such as milk or soy milk, or plain water daily. It is also recommended to drink a glass of water before meals. A high sugar intake can contribute to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes due to the links between high sugar intake and obesity. Speak to your Dietician for tips to ensure proper hydration while balancing your carbohydrate load and minimising wide swings in your blood sugar levels.
4. Taking care of your mental wellbeing
Stress can raise blood pressure and blood glucose levels. It can also affect how well you manage medical conditions. Having insufficient sleep has been associated with a slew of health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Additionally, stress (especially chronic stress) can negatively affect blood glucose levels, with stress being a driving factor in excessive drinking, eating, less exercise and less sleep.
5. Go for regular checkups
Early detection of the warning signs could be pivotal towards preventing serious harm from diabetes. Nipping the issue in the bud early gives an opportunity for a lifestyle change to better improve the odds of beating back diabetes.
Contributed by Mary-Ann Chiam, Accredited Practising Dietician at Allium Care Suites.