Diabetes: who is at higher risk of contracting this disease?

Diabetes: who is at higher risk of contracting this disease?

July 12, 2023, 10:00 AM

July 12, 2023, 10:00 AM

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) defines diabetes as a chronic metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, which over time can cause serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nervous system. The people with the highest risk of suffering from this disease are those with a family history, who are obese or overweight, who have an unhealthy diet and who lack physical activity.

Nearly 422 million people in the world suffer from diabetes and of that number, 62 million are in America. PAHO records that each year 1.5 million people die worldwide from this disease, with a higher impact rate in low- and middle-income countries.

“Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in Bolivia, due to several factors, such as the lack of education on healthy habits, an unbalanced diet, and the lack of access to preventive health services. In addition, changes in lifestyle and urbanization have also contributed to the increase in diabetes cases in the country,” says Patricia Cabaleiro, a professor of medicine at Unifranz Santa Cruz.

According to the Bolivian Ministry of Health, through the National Health Information System (SNIS), in 2017, the prevalence of diabetes in the country was 6.6%, which means that 362,000 people would have this disease and die close to of 5,260, between 20 and 79 years of age.

There are several types of diabetes, one of the most common is type 1, when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Type 2, when the body cannot efficiently use the insulin it produces; and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy. There are also other less frequent ones, such as MODY or secondary diabetes.

Cabaleiro assures that diabetes can be caused by different factors. In type 1 there is a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors that trigger an autoimmune reaction, which destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Meanwhile, in type 2, the main cause is obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.

How to prevent this disease?

Cabaleiro recommends that, in order to prevent this disease, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, limiting consumption of processed foods and added sugars, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.

Daily exercise is highly beneficial, as it helps control blood glucose levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and helps maintain a healthy weight. The professional recommends aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle, at least 150 minutes a week, in addition to strength exercises.

Attending medical check-ups at health centers or fairs is also a way to prevent diabetes. The Unifranz Health Faculty promotes different exhibitions throughout the year, with training, recommendations, and attends the public free of charge. Students put into practice what they learn, together with expert professors and researchers from the university.

Is it true that stress can cause diabetes?

Sources of stress can be situations that seem impossible to control, both physical (injury or illness) and emotional (problems with your partner, work or finances). In order to escape this threat, the human organism releases adrenaline, intensifies certain bodily functions and decreases others, which make it possible to make a large amount of stored energy (glucose and fat) available to the cells. In this way, insulin levels fall and sugar and adrenaline levels, available in the bloodstream, rise.

Chronic stress can affect blood glucose levels and worsen diabetes control in people who already have diabetes. It is important to manage stress through relaxation techniques, physical activity and emotional support.

Recommendations for a person with diabetes

In the diet of a diabetic person, it is recommended to consume foods with a low glycemic index, such as green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. It is important to stress the importance of controlling portions and avoiding processed foods with high levels of sugar and carbohydrates.

Managing diabetes requires a comprehensive approach, including lifestyle changes, education about the disease, and the proper use of medications, if necessary. In addition, it is essential to have the support of professionals and have a personalized care plan. “With good control, people with diabetes can lead a full and healthy life,” says Cabaleiro.

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