Published Wednesday, November 16, 2022
By Lily Colquhoun, Prevention and Screening Clinical Services
Sugar and spice can make everything nice, but too much sugar in our bodies can negatively impact our health.
Diabetes is a disease where your body cannot produce insulin to metabolize the sugar in your blood (type 1), or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (type 2). When your blood sugar levels are high for a sustained length of time, it can damage the vessels that supply blood to your vital organs.
Approximately 30 per cent of Ontarians are living with diabetes or prediabetes but only 10 per cent have been diagnosed. While people with diabetes make up only a small percentage of Ontario’s population, Northwestern Ontario has more people suffering from the illness than the provincial average.
People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious health complications. However, those that take steps to properly manage their diabetes by incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can often go on to live relatively long and normal lives. Those that do not manage their diabetes properly are at increased risk of being hospitalized for heart disease, end-stage kidney disease, and diabetes-related lower-limb amputation compared to the general public.
Risk factors for diabetes can vary depending on your genetics, family history, and environment, but there are proactive steps can you can take to prevent and manage diabetes.
- Sweet is not the only treat. Although most people enjoy dessert or pop, reducing the amount of sugar in your diet can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Adults should consume no more than 48 grams, or 12 teaspoons of added sugars daily, and instead choose whole foods that provide nutritional value.
- Nip it in the butt. Smoking tobacco can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. Average smokers increase their risk by 44 per cent and individuals that smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day increase their risk by 61 per cent.
- Move to improve. Regular physical activity (at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week) can improve insulin response and function, increase fitness levels, while also lowering the risk of heart disease.
- H2O is the way to go. A glass of water is pure and refreshing. Not to mention, water is free of added sugar, preservatives and other questionable ingredients that can be found in many other beverages.
- Know your risk. Use online assessment tools such as CANRISK to check your risk of having prediabetes or type-2 diabetes. Visit healthycanadians.gc.ca/en/canrisk.
For more information on diabetes prevention, visit https://www.diabetes.ca/nutrition---fitness.
For Lynn Hubelit (RN, Centre for Complex Diabetes Care) being outdoors in the crisp air is therapeutic for the body and mind. Hunting allows her to experience nature in its purest form, while respecting and appreciating wildlife conservation. Harvesting an animal can be mentally and physically challenging, but the reward is exhilarating and provides a healthy option in the freezer.