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Diabetes

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia- approximately 1 person every 5 minutes develops the condition. The group of metabolic disorders are characterised by a reduction in the body’s ability to produce insulin (type I), or to use insulin (type II). Those with diabetes may experience frequent infections due to decreased immunity; abrasions that are slow to heal due to loss of skin strength and elasticity; tingling, pain or lack of feeling in limbs due to nerve damage (neuropathy); loss of sight (retinopathy); damage to the kidneys (nephropathy); and cardiac effects.

The global prevalence of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8.5% in the adult population, which can be attributed greatly to lifestyle factors. While diabetes cannot be cured, various lifestyle changes can be made to manage the frequency and severity of symptoms after a diagnosis (or to prevent the condition).

This includes:
- Maintenance of a healthy weight – see your GP to discuss weight management. Generally a healthy weight is indicated by a BMI of 20-25.
- Leading an active lifestyle – sedentary behaviours increase risk of obesity.
- Eat a varied, balanced diet with reduced sugar and fat intake, particularly saturated fatty acids – these raise blood sugar levels and contain high glucose levels, which when exposed to in excess, creates insulin resistance.
- Be aware of your family history – having a family member with diabetes (whether type 1 or 2) increases your risk.
- Avoid smoking – smoking cigarettes further damages immunity and the elasticity of skin
- Develop skills in self-management – see your GP to discuss self-management techniques, including taking your own blood sugar level.

Early intervention including appointments with relevant health professionals, adaptive equipment and self-management skills are crucial in reducing damage to body systems and organs and maintaining an overall state of wellbeing.

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