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Empowering Global Health

December 7, 2023

Empowering Global Health - featured image

Prevention is better than cure.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder, characterised by insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. Symptoms that a person can present with include polyuria, polydipsia, lethargy, recurrent infections and yeast infections.
Diagnosis is made when random glucose testing presents a result of more than 11.1, fasting glucose testing presents a result of 7 or HBA1c of more than 6.5%.
Over the past decade diabetes cases have doubled and statistics done in 2021 showed four million cases in the adult population, with a 11,3% prevalence.
In 2018 it was the second leading cause of death among South Africans.

Things that will put you at risk for diabetes:

  • Positive family history
  • Obesity
  • Improper diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Diabetes related complications cause a strain on the healthcare system.

Complications are namely:
Retinopathy (vision problems)
Neuropathy
Autonomic dysfunction
Strokes
Heart attack

Treatment

Treatment consists of lifestyle changes, oral medication and insulin.

This year’s theme for diabetes awareness is “Empowering Global Health”, so we will focus more on measures to prevent or reverse this disease.
Remember, medication is not without side effects, so if we can manage our diet, we are halfway there.
In combating this illness, we need to empower our communities and individuals.
We empower our communities by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and:

  • Regular physical exercise
  • Discouraging alcohol and tobacco use
  • Promoting balanced diet
  • Instil healthy habits in children that carry into adulthood
  • Enhancing access to care
  • Government ensuring that there is access to medication, monitoring devices, regular check-ups and screenings
  • To have ongoing teaching programmes

Can it be cured?

Dietary choices are the key drivers of insulin resistance, like fast foods, highly refined grain (think white bread or white rice), meat and other animal fat and sugar sweetened beverages.
Diet can be highly effective in preventing, treating and even reversing diabetes. One such diet that has been researched is a plant-based diet, consisting of legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

It discourages eating meat and animal products. Other benefits of the plant-based diet are lower rates of obesity, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, cardiovascular mortality and cancer.

Dr Malekhetho Mohale

Dr Malekhetho Mohale

Specialist Physician

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