Wednesday November 14th is World Diabetes Day and the organisers are lighting monuments across the world in blue to draw attention to the disease. As well as the London Eye (pictured), dozens of landmarks are to be illuminated, including the Empire State Building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House.
To find out more about diabetes, visit the Diabetes UK website. Or read on to find out what you can do to help prevent onset of the disease.
Help prevent diabetes
Diabetes could prove a serious risk to your health. Around 250,000 people were diagnosed with the condition in 2006 (the number rises yearly by around three per cent), and though it typically shortens life by around five to ten years, there are fewer than 100 deaths per year from the disease.
As the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK, getting diabetes means you'd be 25 times more likely to go blind. Sufferers of the condition also have an 80 per cent risk of heart disease. Most people are diagnosed by the time they are 40 and need to inject themselves between two and five times a day.
However, if you follow the advice below you can help prevent onset of diabetes.
EAT MORE OATS... Beta-glucans, the type of carbohydrate found in oats, help reduce the absorption of sugar and fats from the gut resulting in lower levels of blood glucose. Oats also fall low on the glycaemic index (GI) meaning they are digested slowly by the body and will therefore sustain blood glucose levels.
... AND DAIRY PRODUCTS Drinking a pint of milk a day may protect men against type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) because it reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition which can lead to serious medical disorders including diabetes. Researchers at Cardiff University found that men were 62 per cent less likely to suffer from the syndrome if they drank a pint or more of milk every day, and 56 per cent less likely to have it if they regularly ate other dairy produce.
MONITOR YOUR WEIGHT... People with type 1 diabetes tend to get hungrier and they eat more because their bodies do not make enough insulin (the hormone that distributes blood sugar through the body's cells). However, they also lose weight rapidly because glucose cannot enter their cells so it attempts to draw its energy from the fat stores and muscle tissues instead, causing these to shrink rapidly.
... AND EXERCISE REGULARLY The more regular exercise you get, the more chance you have of improving your body's sensitivity to insulin and glucose control. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh believe that a brisk half-hour walk every day can decrease a person's risk of developing adult-onset diabetes regardless of their weight by as much as half.
DON'T EAT HIGH-GI FOODS People who eat a lot of foods that have a high GI rating and processed foods such as biscuits, sweets, white bread and jacket potatoes have higher rates of adult-onset diabetes and heart disease. Studies suggest that you should stick to low GI foods such as granary bread, wholemeal pasta, and fruit such as apples and pears, because these deliver glucose into the bloodstream at a slow and steady rate.
DON'T IGNORE BLURRED VISION If you suffer from blurred vision, don't ignore it. Diabetes is caused by excess glucose in the blood and this alters the consistency of fluid in the body, meaning that a common symptom of the disease is swollen eye lenses and temporary shortsightedness. The good news is that this will disappear once your sugar levels are back under normal control.
You can find out more about the disease at Diabetes UK.
Every year 270,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK. Many are gay men, lesbians or bisexual people who miss out on vital support and information. You can help change this.
Macmillan Cancer Voices is a UK-wide network helping those who have been diagnosed with cancer. Collectively, their experiences work together to improve cancer care now and in the future.
Have your say about cancer care and become a cancer voice. To find out more, go to www.macmillan.org.uk/cancervoices.