South Africa has the highest proportion of adult diabetics on the continent, and the greatest number of deaths due to the disease. Recognised every year on the 14th November, World Diabetes Day sheds light on this very serious disease that affects over 400 million people worldwide. Of these cases, over 50% of Type 2 Diabetes diagnoses are preventable through a balanced lifestyle and smart eating choices. In South Africa, where 9.8% (approximately 4.5 million) of our population is affected, staying healthy is no longer a choice. Read on for four tips to a better lifestyle and prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.
It all starts with your diet
The most obvious, and most important advice you will receive, is to maintain a healthy diet to prevent a condition like Type 2 Diabetes. According to Diabetes South Africa, keeping good glucose levels depends on the timing of your meals and snacks, how much you eat daily, as well as the types of food you eat. It’s important to aim for five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables every day, and opt for high fibre or low-GI starches instead of refined starches, which have a negative impact on your glucose levels.
Contrary to what many people believe, adopting a healthy diet does not have to be a costly exercise, and should instead be considered an investment in your future. Look out for convenient ways to make sure that your healthy eating remains consistent, like ordering your groceries online, from trusted retailers. Yebo Fresh is one of these, and they have made a conscious effort to list not only the most popular items on their website, but also healthy options like beans, leafy green vegetables and tinned fish, to provide customers with quality, fresh food. Take a look at their offering to pick between single items, or the conveniently prepared food combos fit for every budget.
Invest in supplements
It’s a good idea to consider multivitamin and zinc supplements to boost your immune system. Zinc, one of the health heavyweights, is the second most abundant trace element in the body and helps build healthy immune cells needed to fight infection. It also reduces fatigue and plays a key role in the renewal of skin cells and keeping hair and nails healthy, concerns that often affect diabetics.
According to the International Zinc Association (IZA), zinc is required by all living things for survival. In fact, Simon Norton of the IZA says, “Zinc is essential for human health as it is in our organs, tissues, bones, fluids, and cells.” What’s more, a 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “zinc supplementation improves glycemic control for diabetes prevention and management”.
Making fitness fun
It’s well known that regular exercise goes a long way in helping manage diabetes and the effects thereof. According to Diabetes South Africa, “Preventing and treating diabetes requires a lifestyle approach, of which exercise is a vital component.” Exercise, however, is not fun for everyone and, right now, not many people want to step into a gym. So, to make it fun, why not get out and about in your city instead? For example, if you hate exercise, but you love the outdoors, try a moderate hike or walk. If you are keen on cycling, you can rent a bike on the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town and cycle along the coast. Or go for a swim at the beach or your nearest public pool. Cape Town Tourism’s website has a host of service providers and tour operators who provide fun and unique ways of seeing Cape Town while getting in some exercise. Of course, before taking on any exercise, consult your doctor to find out what level of exercise you are able to do.