Did you know there are about 3.9 million people in the UK who live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes?
According to Age UK, about 1 in 7 older people already has diabetes.
Diabetes is defined as a condition that causes your blood sugar level to reach an unhealthy level. There are two different categories – type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
"1 in 7 older people in the UK has diabetes."
The NHS says that type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system destroys the necessary cells that produce insulin - a hormone created by the pancreas - in the body. When this occurs, glucose levels increase, which then makes the body insulin-dependent. Unfortunately, with this type of diabetes, you'll need to rely on insulin injections to stay alive and well.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common of the two. This is when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells don't react to insulin at all, which makes the body resistant to this hormone. Type 2 diabetes is easier to manage with the simple help of a healthier diet and regular exercise.
Causes of diabetes
According to the NHS, insulin controls the amount of sugar in the blood. When your food is digested, it enters the blood stream. The insulin that is produced moves the glucose into your cells, where it's then developed into energy. Diabetes occurs when your body cannot break down the glucose and turn it into energy. This is either caused by insulin that doesn't work properly or not enough insulin in your blood to begin with, thus defining the two different types.
How to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
Unfortunately, making certain lifestyle changes cannot lower your risk of type 1 diabetes. However, there are a number of ways to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Here are three ways you can reduce your risk:
1. Eat well
Diabetes UK advises more fruit and vegetables, as these are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, plus they're low in fat and calories. This means they can help you maintain a healthy weight, which can prevent your risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancers. Eat at least five portions a day.
2. Exercise more often
Regular exercise can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Experts recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderately-intense cardiovascular activity and at least two days where you perform muscle-strengthening exercises. If you're concerned about exercising because of your age or the state of your health, talk to your GP.
3. Drink in moderation
Did you know that drinking alcohol could increase your risk of type 2 diabetes? Age UK say this is because alcohol is loaded with 'empty calories', which contribute to weight gain, potentially causing diabetes. You don't have to stop drinking alcohol all together, just consume it in moderation. Talk to your doctor if you're worried you've been drinking too much.