By Kamara Daniel
World Diabetes Day is an international day where we celebrate the diabetees and the warriors who have lived with the disease for a long time.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, and non-traumatic lower limb amputation in Uganda. According to the International Diabetes Foundation, in 2021, an estimated 716,000 adults in Uganda had diabetes. About 89% of Ugandans with diabetes are neither on medication nor aware of their status and therefore present to the health system with difficult-to-treat complications. WHO noted that Diabetes is increased blood sugar levels that the body can’t fully utilize thus excess.
This year’s theme, is Access to diabetes care, this means accessibility is the main aim to make sure every person gets services all the time, those at risk, those not a risk and those who already have the disease, can they access medicines, proper health education to maintain the blood sugars in normal ranges, are they able to incorporate diet into diabetic living, are they able to adapt to the changes in lifestyle that are key to their prevention of other morbidities like heart attack, diabetic foot, neuropathies, kidney disease, or total blindness?
In Uganda, Diabetes stands at 3 in 10 people, especially type 2 where it is more life sedentary and is more associated to lifestyle behaviours where individuals don’t pay attention to the foods they eat, when they eat them and how they eat them.
Its very important for persons living with Diabetes to know the related complications so that they can pay attention to the medical advice and know that prevention is they way to live, also intensive health education to foster awareness of the best foods such as chromium-rich foods such as nuts and dark vegetables, cinnamon has shown to stagnate blood sugars maintaining them in people with Diabetes and not in those without diabetes where it enhances the insulin to take up the glucose in the body., This doesn’t mean that the diabetic plate be forgotten instead it should be maintained where it contains half of the plate vegetables and fruits and the rest quarter be served in proteins and carbohydrates respectively.
People with Diabetes should never be restricted to any food but rather be enabled to eat all food groups as per the body’s demands through helping to do meal planning and meal preps that guide on which foods to take, amount and time.
Also, meal portion control is key to monitoring what amount has been taking and how it has been taken depending on the palm method or reducing plate method.
Encouraging meal swaps in persons living with Diabetes is important to reduce on risk of eating fast, street and low-dense protein foods, such meal swaps include, snacking on biscuits and chocolate can be swapped by taking fruit salad, taking meat burger can swapped by putting vegetables and fruits inside the burger . Such meal swaps are important to keep and balance the blood sugar levels.
People living with Diabetes should increase the intake of Dietary fibre or roughage eating, this increases dietary satiety levels and minimises on the amount of food to be taken, such include taking whole fruits and veggies other than making juice. Such dietary fibre is very important in other digestive processes like easing constipation and reducing the risk of haemorrhoids, and colon rectal cancers among others.
Taking of probiotics in patients with Diabetes is key to restoring the gut microbiome and restore the gut leakage syndrome in case it has developed due to medication and treatment they are on, Such probiotic diets include dairy products such as Jesa fruit probiotic yoghurt, Millet porridge fermented, kombucha among others.
It’s very important to know that Diabetes is incurable rather than chronic and a lifetime disease related to many complications if not paid attention to.
Prevention remains the key measure and persons at risk including those aged 40 and above, being obese, overweight with and BMI above 26, taking alcohol, smoking, family history of Diabetes, living with other diseases such as heart disease, Un Intentional eating and other hormonal factors predispose you to getting Diabetes.
Keep in mind that knowing your risk is important to Knowing your response.
Kamara Daniel is a Clinical Nutritionist at Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre Kampala.
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