People across the world celebrate the World Diabetic Day every November 14th to raise awareness on diabetes and its effects on human health with a view to preventing it.
World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes, observers say that observing the Day is worthwhile.
They opine that stakeholders in health sector, during the observance, should focus on discussions that will ensure stronger intervention to check the disease.
Medical experts advise that advocacy at the celebration should include educating the public on the need to take balanced diet apart from regular check on the level of sugar in their blood.
Nathaniel Adewole, a gynaecologist with the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, said: “when one gets older the chances of developing diabetes is high as a result of poor life style.’’
He said at that stage, many people would require balance diet and healthy living to prevent diabetes.
He advised that people should reduce carbohydrate intake and take a lot of protein and vegetables.
Corroborating this viewpoint, dieticians advised the public against eating junk food and being overweight as such could lead to developing diabetes.”
“People who eat a greater number of fruits and vegetable as well as people who eat a wide variety of foods from the local diet may have a lower risk of developing diabetes,’’ Adamu Onu in Garki Hospital, Abuja, observed.
“The biggest problem with today’s traditional diet is too much salt and too little potassium.
Boosting one’s potassium intake and curbing salt can slash one’s chances of stroke arising from diabetes by 21 per cent,’’ he said.
Beside this, he advised that people should go for blood sugar tests at least once a year to ensure healthy living as early detection of insulin deficiency could prevent diabetes.
Onu expressed concern that the occurrence of diabetes was on the increase, calling for collective efforts of the stakeholders to check the trend.
According to him, diabetes is the absolute insulin deficiency in the blood, while insulin is a hormone, produced by the body to regulate blood sugar concentration.
He insisted that diabetes could be prevented by cutting down the intake of carbohydrates, especially soft drinks and fast food.
Medical experts also observe that diabetes is not limited to adult alone, insisting that it has been commonly reported recently among children.
Nnamdi Uba, former specialist at St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Gwagwalada, therefore, advised mothers to control their blood sugar level during pregnancy to reduce diabetes in children.
He stressed that expectant mothers should always seek medical attention, especially those who are diabetic, adding that complications could arise if pregnant mothers indulged in self medication.
The physician further stressed that when a child is obese, it leads to high blood glucose, which leads to lack of much insulin in the body.
According to him, the type of food that children eat can predispose them diabetes related infections.
Uba, therefore, recommended six months exclusive breastfeeding and subsequent six months complimentary breastfeeding and dietary control.
He urged mothers to observe cleanliness while feeding their children, noting that it would boost their children’s survival and save them from diseases.
For effective fight against diabetes, the Nigeria Diabetes Online Community advises that sufferers should take much of non-starchy vegetables, beans and fruits.
According to it, they should also limit concentrated sweets, including high calorie foods such as ice cream and reduce fruit juice (without sugar) to no more than one cup a day.
“Eat a healthful type of protein at most meals such as beans, fish and skinless chicken, choose foods with healthy fats such as olive-oil, nuts and limit saturated fats from dairy and other animal products.
“Eat slowly and stop when full. Having diabetes does not mean eliminating sugar. If you have diabetes, you can still enjoy a small serving of your favourite dessert now and then,’’ it said.
By and large, observers urge medical experts and relevant stakeholders to increase awareness campaigns on methods of detecting, preventing and managing diabetes.
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