Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
Around 3 in 5 cases of type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by making changes to our lifestyle1. While there are some risk factors that you have no control over, there are others – like being overweight – which you can act upon.
What are the risks and how can I reduce them?
- Your weight. If you’re overweight, obese or have a high waist measurement, this can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health conditions including stroke and coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure. A high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing diabetes
Signs of diabetes
As symptoms develop gradually, many people have type 2 diabetes for years before they’re diagnosed. The only way to know whether you have it is to get tested. So, if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you could also be at risk.
1. Always feeling thirsty.
This is one of the classic symptoms of diabetes. If you feel thirsty all the time regardless of how much you drink, it can be a sign of higher than normal blood glucose levels.
2. Going to the toilet more often.
Another classic symptom of diabetes, where you are passing excessive or abnormally large amounts of urine each time you go to the toilet. This can lead to severe dehydration, and if untreated, can affect your kidneys.
3. Always feeling tired.
Most adults require 6-8 hours of sleep a day, but this can vary from person to person. There are many conditions relating to tiredness, therefore it is important to identify the cause.
4. Being overweight.
Excessive hunger or increased appetite is one of the main signs of diabetes. It can occur from sharp peaks and lows in blood sugar levels.
5. Experiencing blurred vision.
This refers to the loss of sharpness of vision and the inability to see fine detail. This can affect one or both eyes.
6. Losing weight for no apparent reason.
High blood glucose levels can cause rapid weight loss of approximately 10-20lbs over two or three months.
7. Suffering from frequent infections.
Fungi and bacteria thrive in sugar-rich environments.
8. Experiencing numbness in the hands and feet (as well as burning pain or swelling).
These are signs that nerves are being damaged by diabetes. If symptoms are recent it’s more likely to be reversible, so it’s important not to ignore it.
9. Having high blood pressure, heart disease or having had a heart attack or stroke.
10. Slow healing wounds.
Infections, cuts and bruises that don’t heal quickly are another classic sign of diabetes.
Reducing your risk of diabetes
If you’re at risk, it’s not too late to reduce your chance of developing diabetes. One of the best ways to do this is to eat healthily and to keep active to maintain a healthy weight.
Watch what you eat
It’s important that we all have a healthy diet, but it’s especially important if you’re at risk of diabetes. Here are some simple ways to start:
- Cut down on sugar by swapping high sugar foods for low sugar alternatives
- Eat less fried and fatty foods if you are using spreads or oil, choose ones high in monounsaturated fat, like olive oil
- Choose lean meat and grill rather than fry
- Cut down on salt
Most people think of exercise as visiting their local gym and running on a treadmill, however there are many different ways you can fit physical activity into your day without realising it! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Try swapping your car for a bike. Not only is it a fun way to exercise, but it’s also a good way to eliminate the stress of rush-hour traffic. If you work too far away to cycle, you can always park your car 15 minutes away and power walk your way into the office.
- Ever thought about fitting in some squats and stretches while doing your household chores? Or, how about adding extra weights to your vacuum cleaner to work out your arms? When cleaning the car, why not opt to do it yourself instead of using the car wash? Even while shopping, you can use a basket instead of a trolley to work your muscles that bit harder.
- Swap going to the cinema or a meal out with friends, for a brisk walk around a local park or go shopping! Did you know.. 1 hour of shopping can burn up to 200 calories.
- Try to reach a minimum of 10,000 steps daily. A fitness tracker can help you to keep track of your daily activity and count how many calories you have burnt and some can even track your heart rate.
Check your risk
If you want to find out if you’re at risk, take our short online risk assessment.