The World Health Organization in 1991 dedicated the 14th day of November every year to be World Diabetes Day. This year, 2018, the World Diabetes Day was celebrated in Akwa Ibom state, South of the Niger, Nigeria by the Diabetes Association of Nigeria at the Barth Ebong Auditorium of the University of Uyo. The theme was Family and Diabetes.
Amidst several stakeholders, sponsors and collaborators that contributed to the success of this day, the HealthCompass was an active player. The Vice Chancellor was represented by the University’s Director of Health, Dr. Inyang while the Registrar was represented by himself. Dr. Onung, an Endocrinologist and Diabetologist must be very well commended for the several roles he played in the planning and organisation of this event.
Over 400million persons, globally, live with diabetes. I repeat. Over 400million human beings around the world are presently living with diabetes. Diabetes affects not just its victim but the entire family. One person comes down with diabetes, the entire family is affected financially, psychologically, socially, etc. Those who have a diabetic family member understand what I’m talking about. More so, diabetes is a drain on the workforce as it’s symptoms and complications negatively affect the productivity of a worker. Please, permit me to refrain from further emphasizing how serious this condition called diabetes is.
Today, I’ll be sharing with us important things we must know about diabetes. You don’t have to be diabetic to know about diabetes.
None the less, some of the things I’ll be sharing here will challenge some of the myths that have held sway concerning diabetes.
Diabetes is Not All About Sugar
The problem of diabetes is not just about sugar ; it’s more about insulin. It is about the presence of a defect in insulin’s quantity or quality.
More so, many erroneously think that since sugar is sweet, taking bitter things like bitter kola, bitter leaf, bitter lemon, bitter this, bitter that is the cure to diabetes. Remember, diabetes is not just about sugar but about insulin.
You Can Eat Any Food You Want
There is no food product specific for diabetic patients. You can eat anything you want.
Diabetes is Not A Death Sentence
Diabetes is not a death sentence. That an individual comes down with diabetes does not mean that his life is doomed. Neither is it an assurance to premature death. Diabetes is not a death sentence if it is properly managed.
Say NO to Soft Drinks
Please, as much as possible, resist the temptation of grabbing a bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi or any other soft drink at the slightest provocation of hunger or weakness. If you must, limit yourself to just a sip especially when you are hypoglycemic.
Do Not Feast. Do Not Fast
Diabetic patients usually present with excessive hunger. With this, they are tempted to feast and eat large. This only worsens the condition, leading to complications. Diabetic patients should neither fast nor feast. If you MUST fast, do it sparingly.
Diabetes is Not a Disease For the Chemist
Diabetes is not a disease for the Chemist. It is for the Endocrinologist or Diabetologist who is a trained medical doctor.
Hands in Gloves
Diabetes and Hypertension work hand in gloves. A diabetic patient if not properly managed may come down with hypertension.
Also remember that Obesity is no longer fashionable. Trim that fat and stay off oily foods.
Smoking has also become old fashioned. The saying that smokers are liable to die young is very true in the case of diabetes.
You Don’t Have to Sweat While Exercising
For diabetic patients with comorbidities like hypertension, heart or respiratory problems, you don’t have to engage in high intensity exercises. Light exercises will do. With exercises, you reduce complications of diabetes by 50%. It is advised that you have at least, a total of 30minutes of exercises everyday. You don’t necessarily have to do 30minutes at once. This could be shared into 10-10-10 minutes with breaks in between.
Endeavor to own a glucometer; It empowers you against diabetes. Please, you don’t have to wait for government’s subsidy on glucometers before you own one. Empower yourself.
Eating Habit of A Diabetic Patient
You are not restricted to any special diabetic rice or cereal. Neither are you restricted to wheat or unripe plantain. You are advised to eat any wholesome food. But before you run off, PLEASE READ ON.
As a rule of thumb, avoid the following categories of food. If you must take them, let it be occasionally and in very small portions.
Stay off Processed or Packaged Foods.
As much as possible, engage natural foods. That is, food from the farm.
Avoid Simple Sugars like your normal tea sugar, honey and sweetened foods. These sugars when ingested do not go through the normal processes of digestion. They gain direct enterance into the blood shortly after ingestion. This usually leads to a sharp rise in blood sugar.
On the flip side, natural carbohydrates go through the normal processes of digestion. Thus, the sugar gotten gradually enters the blood over a longer period of time for the body’s utilization.
Avoid soft drinks. They are actually not soft to your health.
As earlier mentioned, a diabetic patient can eat any food. This includes rice, garri, fufu, pounded yam, pap from maize (Akamu), beans, etc. However, this is not a license to feast. Neither does it mean that you’re permitted to take Garri in the morning, Rice in the afternoon, Pounded yam in the evening. Eat these foods only in small portions and occasionally. It is advised you take them with plenty of vegetables as you stick to a balanced diet.
Can I Take PLENTY of Fruits?
The answer is NO.
Yes, the diabetic patient is encouraged to take fruits. But, they must be taken in small portion.
The size of fruits like water melon, pineapple, pawpaw, should not exceed the size of 50Naira watermelon sold in major cities. Limit yourself to just a ball of orange, guava or a stick of banana per time.
For variety, you can blend your fruits with little water added to serve as fruit drink. For the best, do not sieve out the fibers. Please, do not get drunk on it. Just take a little portion of it per time. Remember, most fruits contain sugars.
The Way Forward
Since government gives free HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis drugs, they can at least subsidize diabetes drugs.
Importantly, Government should be pressured to pass a law limiting the advertisement of products, foods and drinks that are injurious to the health and capable of causing diabetes. In the same vein,bathe ‘drink more, win more’ sought of advertizements and promotionals should be banned on products, foods and drinks such as soft drinks and other sweetened products that are of public health concern.
As preventive measures, students should be encouraged to cook. This helps in discouraging them from taking processed foods which are injurious to the health.
Lastly, know that you are the first Doctor to yourself. Look out for yourself. Look out for those around coming down with diabetes but are not aware. This could be your way of making our world a better place.
We beckon that you join the Diabetic Association of Nigeria around you. There are several benefits accrued.