World Diabetes Day is the primary global awareness campaign focusing on Diabetes mellitus and is held on 14 November each year.

Led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), each World Diabetes Day focuses on a theme related to diabetes; “Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When?

I just made my pledge which goes as “Health system must improve diabetes screening to ensure timely diagnosis and prevention.” Of course, is already shared on my social media handles. Here it goes:

In this article am going to focus on Diabetes and Lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes also called Diabetes mellitus is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin.

Insulin acts like a key to letting the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy. Insulin is a hormone; it regulates the sugar in your blood to be used as energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems.

Diabetes is the Number 1 cause of Kidney and Blindness, especially in adults. According to research, over 4 million Nigerians are living with diabetes and 50% of them don’t know they have it.

Types of Diabetes

The levels of glucose in the blood determine the severity of diabetes, but the age of diabetes onset usually determines its type. Multiple forms of diabetes have been identified, including type 1, type 2, type 3, neonatal and, gestational. But for the sake of the topic of discussion am going to dwell more on type 1 and type 2 Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is early-onset, most frequently in children and adolescents. Five per cent of the total number of diabetic patients has type 1. Type 1 diabetes occurs after the first 6 months of life. Early-onset, type 1 is typically associated with inherited gene mutations. Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes because persons with type 1 diabetes need to manage their blood glucose levels through insulin shots.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin. As a result, the body produces very little or no insulin. The exact causes of this are not yet known but are linked to a combination of genetic and environmental conditions.

The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched. However, having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease. Environmental factors and exposure to some viral infections have also been linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a late-onset disease, in that it is common in adults, but is increasingly seen in children, adolescents and younger adults due to rising levels of obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet. Type 2 diabetes covers over 90% of the total diabetic population.

Type 2 diabetes encompasses persons with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, which may lead to increased insulin resistance and insulin deficiency. Type 2 diabetes is associated with some non-modifiable and some modifiable risk factors.

The cornerstone of type 2 diabetes management is a healthy diet, increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight. Oral medication and insulin are also frequently prescribed to help control blood glucose levels.


Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy

Preventing/Managing Diabetes

There are a number of factors that influence the development of type 2 diabetes. The most influential are lifestyle behaviours commonly associated with urbanization. Research indicates that a majority of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through a healthy diet and regular physical activity.


An awareness of and education about obesity, pre-diabetes conditions, and diabetes are important for persons with diabetes to consider changing their lifestyle. Educational material is available from clinics and local hospitals, and even from online sources. But currently, it is the responsibility of persons with diabetes to seek out these educational materials.

  • DIET

A healthy diet includes reducing the number of calories if you are overweight, replacing saturated fats (e.g., cream, cheese, butter) with unsaturated fats (e.g., avocado, nuts, olive and vegetable oils), eating dietary fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, whole grains), and avoiding tobacco use, excessive alcohol and added sugar.


Regular physical activity is essential to help keep blood glucose levels under control. It is most effective when it includes a combination of both aerobic (eg. jogging, swimming, cycling) exercise and resistance training, as well as reducing the amount of time spent being inactive.


Excess weight is the single most important cause of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes seven-fold. Being obese makes you 20 to 40 times more likely to develop diabetes than someone with a healthy weight.

Losing weight can help if your weight is above the healthy-weight range. Losing 7-10% of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.


Add type 2 diabetes to the long list of health problems linked with smoking. Smokers are roughly 50% more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk. Try to quit if you already smoke and if you don’t smoke, avoid being a second-hand smoker and don’t think of starting it. Remember smokers, are liable to die young.


Alcohol can cause high or low blood sugar, depending on how much you drink and whether you eat at the same time. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation. Always drink with a meal or snack, and remember to include the calories from any alcohol you drink in your daily calorie count. Also, be aware that alcohol can lead to low blood sugar later, especially for people who use insulin.


If you’re stressed, it’s easy to neglect your usual diabetes care routine. To manage your stress, set limits. Prioritize your tasks. Learn relaxation techniques. Get plenty of sleep. And above all, stay positive. Diabetes care is within your control. If you’re willing to do your part, diabetes won’t stand in the way of an active, healthy life.


Like diabetes, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels. High cholesterol is a concern, too, since the damage is often worse and more rapid when you have diabetes. When these conditions team up, they can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other life-threatening conditions. Keep them under your control by regular check-ups with your health care provider.


Remember, you are the most important member of your health care team. You should see your health care team at least twice a year, and more often if you are having problems or are having trouble reaching your blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol goals. At each visit, be sure you have a blood pressure check, foot check, eye check and weight check; and review your self-care plan. Talk with your health care team about your medicines and whether you need to adjust them. Routine health care will help you find and treat any health problems early or may be able to help prevent them.

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