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November is Diabetes Month and Today is Diabetes day!

I want to take this opportunity to bring more awareness to this chronic disease that has become a worldwide epidemic. The president and CEO of Diabetes Canada, Rick Blickstead himself said “Diabetes is a silent epidemic in Canada with 11 million people living with diabetes or prediabetes”.

Astonishing numbers right?

I am sure each and every one of us knows someone with Type 2 diabetes.

What I want to focus on today is:

The prevention and early detection of diabetes.

A side note - we even have the power to reverse this chronic disease through lifestyle interventions, which is something many of us know but find it hard to implement.

Now the million dollar question… WHY do we find it hard to implement lifestyle interventions?

I have a few thoughts on why -

1) Taking a pill daily is much easier than changing your lifestyle which requires work.

2) Insurance companies in many cases, cover cost of medication but do not cover the cost of lifestyle interventions.

3) The medical system is set up to react to patients symptoms with medication, surgery or time. -- We are not set up to be proactive

4) Lack of time in a doctor’s office to continually educate, motivate and support the patient through lifestyle changes.

In order to be proactive, let’s switch gears for a bit and find out if you’re at risk for diabetes –

Everyone should know their personal risk for diabetes

Are you at risk? What are the Canadian guidelines for checking your risk?

Anyone over the age of 40 should have a Blood glucose check every 3 years unless you are at high risk when it should be more often.

So how do you know if you’re at high risk?

See this list copied from Diabetes Canada:

  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes;

  • Being a member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent)

  • Having health complications that are associated with diabetes

  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds) at birth or having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)

  • Having been diagnosed with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose)

  • Having high blood pressure

  • Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood

  • Being overweight or obesity, especially if that weight is mostly carried around the tummy

  • Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome

  • Having been diagnosed with Acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin)

  • Having been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder

  • Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea

  • Having been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a physician

If you have any of these then either go see your doctor if you have not been checked or take the risk assessment questionnaire on diabetes Canada site.

So now you know if you are at high risk, what do you do next?

Start by keeping a food diary for one week - write everything you eat and drink down along with the time.

Review your diary after the week or take to your doctor for help in deciding what to do next.

I teach my patients to first remove any obvious table sugar from the diet, followed by sugar sweetened beverages. This alone can make a big difference. If this is something you don’t have in your diet then the next step is to learn to read labels, you will be surprised at how many foods have hidden sugars!

This might all sound like a lot of work, and I’ll be honest with you, you’re right – however, it’s only a lot of work initially and with time it’ll become second nature to you.

Changes in your diet aren’t the only lifestyle factors to consider but it is a first step. As we all know physical activity is another contributor to our epidemic and it can also reduce our risk for diabetes or help reverse it.

Becoming aware of your own risks and mindful of your lifestyle can help you in your journey to prevent diabetes or reverse diabetes – and to just live a healthier lifestyle overall.

If you need further help or don’t know how to start please come visit us at Mindful Medicine. Our doctor, registered dietitians, and exercise coach will work together with you as a team to motivate, guide and help you achieve your goals.

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