Cutting diabetes risk

A patient undergoing a blood test for diabetes.
A patient undergoing a blood test for diabetes.

Cases of diabetes in the UK have soared to nearly three million, with the number of people diagnosed with the disease now standing at 2.9 million.

This is 50 per cent more than the number diagnosed with diabetes when GP data on the disease was first published in 2005.

The rise is mainly due to a surge in type-2 diabetes, which accounts for 90 per cent of all cases and is more likely to develop in later life and is often a result of lifestyle factors such as; being overweight, obese or not being active enough.

Those with diabetes are five times more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, as well as being more at risk of kidney disease, eye problems and nerve damage.

However, the good news is that the onset of Type 2 Diabetes can be greatly reduced by living a healthy lifestyle.

Follow these simple steps from national charity Heart Research UK to reduce your risk and help you lead a life free from this increasingly escalating condition:

l Eat a balanced, varied diet with foods that are nutrient dense and rich in a range of vitamins, minerals and essential fats like omega 3 found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and shellfish.

l Ensure that your diet is low in sugar, saturated fat and salt. Don’t forget to include a rainbow of colour on your plate from fruit and vegetables.

l Watch your portion size to maintain a healthy weight.

l Keep your waist measurement below 31.5 inches if you are a woman, 37 inches if you are a man. Men of South Asian origin should keep their waist measurement below 35 inches. Take extra care if you are apple-shaped to keep your waistline under control.

l Get fit – do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days of the week (ie cycling or fast walking to reduce excess body fat.)

l Give your heart a workout and reduce the risk of insulin resistance that leads to type-2 diabetes.

l Check it out – get regular health checks and take steps to keep your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure level healthy.

l Drink alcohol in moderation – keep within the recommended maximum intake of 14 units per week for women and 21 units for men

l Avoid tobacco – give it up for good and contact your local GP or NHS Stop Smoking Clinic.

You can do your health and your heart a big favour by making small changes to your lifestyle that will have a big impact on reducing your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. For more information and advice about healthy living, contact Heart Research UK by emailing lifestyle@heartresearch.org.uk or phoning (0113) 2347474.