Would you be willing to change your diet and exercise more to support a family member with diabetes?
There is no doubt that these two items are difficult to accomplish, especially when our environment seems to promote an unhealthy food culture and a sedentary lifestyle.
However, both these lifestyle changes are crucial in helping to control this chronic disease, as medicine alone will not help to stave off the complications of uncontrolled high blood sugar (glucose), like heart or cardiovascular disease, eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy) and chronic ulcers leading to amputation, among others.
But, according to a study commissioned by regional insurance provider Sun Life Financial Asia, only one in two (50%) Malaysian respondents were willing to change their diet to support a family member living with diabetes, while only about one in three (32%) were willing to exercise to support such a family member.
These numbers are despite the finding that 63% and 53% of Malaysians are aware that high-carbohydrate diets and lack of exercise respectively are high-risk factors for diabetes.
The study, which had 3,806 respondents from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, also found that although 93% of Malaysians were aware of the importance of diabetes screening, only 27% had actually been screened.
Says Sun Life Malaysia chief executive officer and president/country head Raymond Lew: “These are certainly worrying statistics; as the number of diabetes cases in Malaysia continues to climb, it is imperative that we as a nation take more proactive and pre-emptive steps to stem the rising tide of diabetes.”
He adds: “As a country, Malaysia must increase efforts and investment into encouraging and empowering its people to be more proactive and to get personal screenings done more regularly.
“Early detection and constant monitoring, coupled with important lifestyle changes, all play a vital role in halting the rise of diabetes.
“This also increases the prospects of having access to more affordable (insurance) protection when compared to those with such health issues.”
Sun Life Financial Asia recommends a five-pronged approach to curbing diabetes in its Diabetes in Asia: Empowering Communities to Lead Healthier Lives report, which also contains the study results. They are:
• Incentivising people to stay active through fitness apps that offer rewards.
Gamification and rewards can motivate people to stay active.
• Creating public spaces in urban environments for exercise.
By creating parks, cycle paths and pavements in urban environments, families and individuals will find it easier to exercise together.
• Organising family-oriented fitness clubs and events, like fun runs.
Communities can organise local family-oriented fitness clubs and events.
Encouraging families and friends to exercise together means that they are more likely to stay active in the long run.
• Encouraging local shops to stock wholegrain or brown rice, instead of white rice.
White rice constitutes up to 60% of the glycaemic load among the Chinese population and is associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
By providing shoppers with healthier options, including wholegrain and brown rice, families and individuals will be able to reduce their carbohydrate or sugar intake.
• Putting limits on the levels of added salt in pre-packaged, processed and fast foods.
The mean intake of salt per day in South-East Asia varies from 8 grammes per day to 13 grammes per day, much higher than recommended.
Providing low salt alternatives to pre-packaged, processed and fast foods makes it easier for individuals and families to cut down their salt intake.
At the national level, regulations limiting the levels of added salt to such foods can be implemented by the Government.
At the community level, supporting local markets, restaurants and purveyors of healthy foods, provides healthier options for families and individuals.
This article is courtesy of Sun Life Malaysia.
- High blood sugar or hyperglycemia happens when a person’s body doesn’t properly make or use the hormone insulin. Insulin helps the body convert the glucose from foods into energy.
- High blood sugar doesn’t only affect people with diabetes. It can also come about from infections, stress, inactivity, and other issues.
- Signs that you have high blood sugar include being constantly tired or thirsty, experiencing chronic headaches, and having blurred vision.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
When you hear the term “high blood sugar,” it’s likely you think of people who are diagnosed with diabetes and need insulin to keep their bodies in equilibrium. But high blood sugar or hyperglycemia can affect people without diabetes too. And, if left untreated, it can lead to nerve damage or kidney, eye, or heart disease.
High blood sugar happens when a person’s body doesn’t produce or properly use enough of the hormone insulin, which helps turn the food you eat into usable energy in your body. As a result, a person may feel fatigued all the time, constantly thirsty, have blurred vision, or experience a host of other symptoms. These symptoms don’t pop up right away and can take days or weeks to develop as a person’s blood sugar levels continue to rise, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Besides having Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, having an infection, being inactive, being under stress, and eating too many carbohydrates can lead to high blood sugar. People with cystic fibrosis and those who take beta-blocker medications may also have any increased risk for developing high blood sugar.
To be diagnosed with high blood sugar, you’ll need a blood test to determine if your glucose levels are too high. See a doctor for a test as soon as possible if you notice any of these six signs.
You’re always tired, no matter what.
The phrase “high blood sugar” may sound like something that makes you bounce off the walls with energy, but in reality, it can leave you feeling constantly sluggish and fatigued.
That’s because your body’s cells can’t figure out how to use the glucose, or sugar, in your blood properly to create energy for daily activity and proper organ function, according to Medical News Today.
Your vision is blurry.
- A spike in blood sugar can make your eyesight go haywire.
Another sign of high blood sugar is blurry vision, since the high level of glucose in your body can make the lens of your eye swell up and make focusing on one point difficult. If left untreated, blurred vision from high blood sugar can lead to vision loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.
To treat this symptom, work with a doctor to get your blood sugar in a normal range. That range is usually considered 70 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) to 130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL one to two hours after the start of a meal, according to WebMD.
This range can still vary among people, however, so consulting a doctor is the best way to determine what’s right for your body.
You can’t stop peeing.
- Too much sugar in your blood will make your kidneys go into overdrive.
- Demkat/ iStock
As more and more sugar builds up in your bloodstream, your kidneys will go into overdrive, filtering out the excess sugar your body isn’t using for energy, according to the Mayo Clinic.
That extra glucose comes out in your urine, so the more glucose you have, the more you’ll have to pee.
You’re thirsty all of the time.
- Constantly having to pee can also increase your thirst levels.
Constantly having to pee can also increase your thirst levels. When you urinate often, fluid that comes from your tissues will also be excreted along with the glucose, causing your body to become dehydrated quickly and making you feel thirstier than usual.
Sores take forever to heal.
- High blood sugar can mess with your blood flow, which can slow healing.
High blood sugar can also make your blood flow slow down, which in turn messes with your body’s ability to heal itself.
As a result, any sores you have, especially on your feet, may take longer to heal. You may also be prone to more bladder and yeast infections because of slow blood flow.
You have chronic headaches.
- Sugar can affect the hormones that play a role in brain function.
- Milan Ilic Photographer/Shutterstock
High blood sugar can affect the hormones that play a role in brain function, so a person with it may experience headaches often.
Specifically, the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine make the brain’s blood vessels expand and contract. High blood sugar messes with the normal flow of blood and can make your head hurt until your blood levels are more in equilibrium.
NOV 14 was a significant date in Malaysia for two interlinked reasons.
Firstly, it was World Diabetes Day. Malaysia has the highest incidence of diabetes in South East Asia, which has now become a major public health concern. Over 20% of adults above 30 have type 2 diabetes, which affects 2.8 million people. This figure will only increase, unless we can come up with some robust strategies to reverse the trend.
The high number is caused by different factors, but poverty is one of the key indicators.
In previous generations, people living in rural areas did not earn high incomes but the incidence of diabetes was far lower.
This brings me to the second event that happened on Nov 14 – The Lost Food Project launched their second PPR Feeding Programme in the low cost flats in Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur.
Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad launched the weekly programme alongside Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil.
During the launch, over 8,200kg of food (over 26,000 meals) were rescued and distributed to 850 families.
This feeding initiative is targeted at the urban poor. A report commissioned by Unicef earlier this year highlighted the conditions many children living in Kuala Lumpur’s low cost housing have to endure. The study finds that about 15% of children below the age of five living in the low cost flats surveyed have stunted growth and 22% are underweight. Another 23% are either overweight or obese, (which is six times higher compared with the Kuala Lumpur average of 4%)
Many of us might associate diabetes with over-eating and gluttony – an affliction of the richest members of our society. However, this is not always the case.
People living on a limited budget cannot afford to acquire all the food needed for a balanced diet. Often the cheapest foods are largely composed of starchy carbohydrates, like rice or noodles.
They are very filling but offer little nutritional value. The body gets used to high levels of glucose and children prefer eating unhealthy snacks rather than nutritous alternatives.
Buying foods high in protein and vitamins can prove to be too expensive for many families. Of course, every so often a family will have a treat – but a takeaway or fast food will likely increase our level of glucose and fatty deposits, which is one of the main contributing factors to diabetes, along with genetics and physical inactivity.
If we really want to reduce the incidence of diabetes in the poorest communities, we do have to address many issues.
Firstly, we need to enable people to eat nutritious food. The food programme just launched in PPR Lembah Pantai is a good example of sustainability and nutrition working hand in hand.
The food that have the shortest shelf life (so generates the highest level of surplus) are fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, meat and other proteins.
In comparison, grocery products have a longer shelf life. The Lost Food Project recently announced they have distributed over two million meals in two years. So food banks can be an amazing source of nutrition.
Recent figures showed that over 85% of food rescued by The Lost Food Project were fresh fruit and vegetables.
If they were not rescued by charities like The Lost Food Project and other NGOs, it would simply go to landfill which is expensive to the public purse, and the landfill gases create an environmental hazard.
Of course, giving PPR households fruit and vegetables is not a one-stop panacea.
We also to provide education on nutrition and a lot of other support to these communities.
Beneficiaries from the first PPR feeding programme in Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, has reported monthly savings of up to 50% on their food budget.
Their diet is not only healthier, but the money saved could be used for other essential needs such as education, clothes and healthcare.
This is why it is very appropriate that the PPR launch and World Diabetes Day fell on the same day.
Love Food Hate Waste appears in print on the fourth Thursday of every month in collaboration with Suzanne Mooney, who is the founder of The Lost Food Project. It’s the first food bank in Malaysia to have professional contracts with a number of supermarkets, manufacturers and a wholesale market. They distribute 50,000 meals a month to over 40 charities, composting any donated food unfit for human consumption. E-mail: TLFPcomp@gmail.com
Read more at https://www.star2.com/food/2018/10/24/love-food-hate-waste-are-foodbanks-a-curse-on-sustainability/#PuKFLWbeXKLGeK4h.99
If you have a sweet tooth, chances are you have been warned of the dangers of diabetes. But do you really know the serious impact it can have on your health?
There are currently about 2.5 million adults with diabetes in Malaysia. Even more shocking is the fact that this rate is actually the highest across Asia and one of the highest in the entire world.
In conjunction with World Diabetes Day, let’s learn more about this disease.
What is diabetes?
The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which transports glucose from food to cells where it is converted into energy.
When the body is unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin (or none at all), diabetes occurs.
Sometimes, the body cannot use its insulin effectively, which also causes diabetes.
Having diabetes means that blood glucose levels remain high for a long time and this leads to various health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, dental disease, nerve damage and foot problems.
Diabetes also affects the body’s ability to protect and heal itself from within, due to increased free radicals, decreased antioxidants, and a lack of key vitamins and minerals.
Research shows that diabetics are commonly deficient in vital nutrients such as vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C and E, as well as magnesium, chromium and biotin.
Symptoms of diabetes
If you’re concerned about high blood sugar, look out for the following signs:
• Urinating often
• Feeling very thirsty
• Feeling very hungry even though you are eating regularly
• Extreme fatigue
• Blurry vision
• Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
• Weight loss even though you are eating more
• Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet
Take note, however, that some type 2 diabetics may experience such mild symptoms that the disease can go unnoticed for a long time.
Who is at risk?
You could be in danger of diabetes if you are:
• Aged 45 or older
• Overweight or obese
• Physically inactive
Other risk factors include:
• Family history of diabetes
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• History of heart disease or stroke
• Prediabetes or gestational diabetes during pregnancy
Other causes of diabetes have been reported, but such cases are rare:
• Genetic mutations
• Hormonal diseases
• Certain medications
• Damage to the pancreas
Diabetics have lower levels of certain nutrients and antioxidants in their bodies.
How to prevent diabetes
High blood sugar and diabetes can be prevented naturally with a healthy lifestyle:
• Exercise: Fitness increases insulin sensitivity and helps insulin convert glucose to be used by the body.
Burning fuel also improves overall health and sheds excess weight, reducing or eliminating the need for medication.
• Reduce stress: Stress releases hormones that raise your blood sugar. Take some time off and treat yourself to whatever helps you relax.
• Stop using digital devices at night. Blue light from tablets and mobile phones harm your eyes and keep you awake.
Inadequate rest can elevate blood sugar levels, so make sure you get enough sleep.
• Drink up: This will flush out excess fluids from your bloodstream, but make sure it’s water in your glass and not sweet drinks or alcohol.
• Increase your intake of fibre, dark leafy greens and lean protein.
A healthy diet lowers blood sugar levels, slows down digestion of carbohydrates and decreases risk of diabetes. \
Multivitamins can also help supplement your diet with specific nutrients that are necessary for diabetics.
Key nutrients for diabetics
Because diabetics have lower levels of certain nutrients and antioxidants in their bodies, they have very specific dietary needs.
Supplementation should include vitamins and minerals that have been shown to improve blood sugar control and prevent or reduce the development of major complications often associated with diabetes like peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).
Vitamin B1 is part of an enzyme that helps produce energy and metabolise carbohydrates. Diabetics and pre-diabetics are often deficient in vitamin B1.
As a component of glucose tolerance factor (GTF), vitamin B3 (niacinamide) aids carbohydrate metabolism.
It also controls blood sugar through a mechanism unrelated to GTF.
Most diabetics are deficient in vitamin B6, which protects against the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) is a key component of carbohydrate metabolism. However, B12 deficiency is significantly greater in diabetics.
Vitamin C levels also tend to be lower in those with diabetes, leading to sorbitol accumulation in red blood cells, and ultimately, certain types of end-organ damage.
Vitamin E and selenium are essential antioxidants that prevent free radical damage. They are also involved in glucose balance.
Zinc is important for insulin synthesis by pancreatic B cells and insulin binding to liver and fat tissue cells.
A deficiency of zinc may lead to significantly higher glucose levels and lower insulin levels.
Manganese is a cofactor for certain key enzymes involved in the metabolism of sugar.
Alpha lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant highly recommended for diabetics and those with high blood sugar. It is involved in turning glucose into energy and improves glucose uptake by muscle.
Apart from neutralising free radicals, it promotes removal of glucose from the blood and helps prevent diabetic complications.
Clinical research has proven that vanadium can increase insulin sensitivity due to its insulin-like effects. This trace mineral is especially important for people with blood sugar abnormalities.
Chromium boosts insulin sensitivity in diabetic and pre-diabetic patients by increasing the amount and activity of insulin receptors on cells for greater efficiency of glucose uptake.
It also allows better control of sugar with less insulin and helps control weight gain and fat accumulation, decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Besides enhancing insulin sensitivity, biotin plays a strong role in stabilising blood sugar levels.
Biotin-independent enzymes acetyl CoA carboxylase and pyruvate carboxylase are vital for those with blood sugar disorders.
The right vitamins and minerals help diabetics manage healthy blood glucose levels and improve general well-being.
However, some of the most important nutrients for their condition – alpha lipoic acid, vanadium, chromium and biotin – are not commonly found in regular multivitamins.
Alpha lipoic acid is especially vital as it is a triple action antioxidant.
Firstly, it is soluble in both fat and water, so it can fight free radicals in both environments. This makes it more effective compared to other antioxidants.
Rapidly absorbed and transported across cell membranes, it is able to protect cells inside and out.
Finally, it has the unique ability to regenerate and recycle other antioxidants to continue destroying free radicals.
Vanadium has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics.
It mimics the effects of insulin in the body, thereby boosting uptake of glucose from the blood into muscle, liver and fat cells.
Chromium is a necessary component for normal insulin functioning as it improves the action of insulin through its effect on receptors.
Studies with supplemental chromium demonstrated significant positive effects on glucose, insulin, HbA1c and cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetics.
Biotin increases the activity of the enzyme glucokinase, which is the first step in utilisation of glucose by the liver. This results in better blood glucose control.
Furthermore, the combination of biotin and chromium has been proven to significantly improve glycaemic control in diabetic patients.
Remember that the ideal multivitamin and minerals supplement for people with diabetes and high blood sugar has to be designed to meet their specific nutritional needs for optimum health and prevention of illnesses.
Look for essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, D, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, niacinamide, folic acid, biotin, calcium pantothenate, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, chromium, vanadyl sulphate and alpha lipoic acid.
These will strengthen the immune system to fight illness and diseases, protect against harmful free radical damage to body cells, tissues and organs, energise the body and improve vitality.
Do add on a daily regime of mecobalamin (500mcg three times a day), which studies have proven protects against diabetic nerve damage.
Discovered by Japanese scientists, it helps promote healthy nerves, prevent nerve inflammation and protects against the degeneration process of the nervous system.
Research has shown it is clinically proven to repair and heal damaged peripheral nerves, and even regenerate healthy new nerves in diabetics. In addition, it works synergistically with alpha lipoic acid.
This article is courtesy of Live-well Nutraceuticals. For more information, consult your pharmacist or call Live-well INFOline: 03-61426570 (Mon to Fri; 9am to 5pm) or email email@example.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
Do these statements apply to you?
• You sometimes feel like you have socks or gloves on when you don’t
• Your feet hurt at night.
• You feel burning or shooting pains in your feet.
• Your feet are numb and you can’t feel your feet when walking.
People who experience tingling sensations, “pins and needles”, or numbness in the feet may not think too much of these symptoms. However if they persist, it may signal a condition known as neuropathy that can lead to bigger problems.
Neuropathy refers to a medical condition where nerves become damaged. It is caused by a variety of reasons including diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, genetic predisposition, infection, cancer, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins, diseases that cause chronic inflammation involving the nerves, and other unclear factors.
Among all, diabetes is the most prevalent cause of nerve damage. This condition is medically known as diabetic neuropathy. It occurs when a nerve or group of nerves is damaged as a result of high blood glucose level.
Here are some statistics regarding diabetic neuropathy:
Up to 50% of diabetics will suffer from diabetic neuropathy over the course of their disease, according to a 2004 review titled “Diabetic somatic neuropathies” published in Diabetes Care.
According to a 2011 study titled “Metabolic correction in the management of diabetic peripheral neuropathy: Improving clinical results beyond symptom control”, published in Current Clinical Pharmacology, up to 50% of diabetics with diabetic neuropathy do not experience any symptoms.
The prevalence of diabetic neuropathy increases with age and diabetic years. It starts in the pre-diabetic stage, and 8% of diabetics already have diabetic neuropathy when diagnosed with diabetes, according to a 1993 study titled “The prevalence by staged severity of various types of diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy in a population-based cohort: The Rochester diabetic neuropathy study”, published in Neurology.
Fifty percent of diabetics over 60 years old have diabetic neuropathy, according to a 1993 study titled “A multi-centre study of the prevalence of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in the United Kingdom hospital clinic population”, published in Diabetologia.
Fifty percent of diabetics are unable to name diabetic neuropathy as a complication from diabetes because of low awareness, according to a 2009 article titled “Diabetes mellitus: Awareness of disease and life style changes in female patients”, published in Journal Of Postgraduate Medical Institute.
Only 28% of diabetics are aware that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to undergo an amputation than those without diabetes, according to ICM Research survey.
Diabetic Foot Care
Most people take foot care for granted. For diabetics, however, foot care is a serious matter that can bring about unfortunate consequences if neglected.
This is because nerve damage can bring about reduced or loss of sensation in the feet, causing sores and small injuries to go unnoticed and become badly ulcerated, infected or difficult to heal.
The healing process for diabetics is also compromised by poor circulation. Eventually amputation of the toe, foot or even lower leg may be necessary if treatment is no longer possible.
While you may know that diabetes can lead to amputation, you may not know that the reason for amputation is nerve damage. Amputation can be avoided with proper nerve care.
Other complications of diabetic neuropathy to watch out for include joint deformities, sharp pain and extreme sensitivity in limbs, urinary tract infections, incontinence, low blood pressure, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction and eye complications.
Amputation and foot ulceration are common, serious problems among diabetics that can be prevented or delayed if identified and dealt with early on.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetic adults go for annual health screenings to detect diabetic neuropathy. Such screenings involve recording your disease history, a physical foot inspection, and neurological and diabetic peripheral neuropathy tests.
There are five simple clinical tests to diagnose peripheral neuropathy in the legs and arms, including pinprick sensation and ankle reflex testing, vibration testing using a tuning fork, and biothesiometry.
Tight blood sugar control, appropriate dietary control, proper foot care, regular exercise and smoking cessation are important to prevent or delay neuropathy and associated complications.
Vitamins B1, B6 & B12
B vitamins, specifically thiamine (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and cobalamin (vitamin B12), are used by the body in the processes of nourishing and regenerating nerves.
Vitamin B1 is involved in energy metabolism, helps maintain the myelin sheaths that cover the axons of nerves, and is used in the synthesis of key signalling molecules in the nervous system which are known as neurotransmitters.
Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, while vitamin B12 is involved in nerve cell maturation and regeneration, nerve cell metabolism and formation of nerve myelin sheaths.
In populations at risk of neuropathy, especially diabetics, early detection and treatment of neuropathy is crucial to avoid irreversible damage to nerves.
The information in this article is not intended or designed to diagnose, prevent, treat or provide a cure for any condition or disease, ascertain the state of your health or act as a substitute for medical care. Seek advice from a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about the information in this article. This article is brought to you by Merck Sdn Bhd. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.