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Diabetes : What it is and how to prevent it

Diabetes : What it is and how to prevent it. A diabetic checks her sugar.


CEBU CITY, Philippines — Diabetes is one of the foremost contributors to global mortality or global deaths.

This is according to Dr. Peter Mancao, chief of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), during a phone interview on November 14.

Dr. Mancao and the Cebu City Medical Center share insights into what diabetes is and how to prevent its onset with today being celebrated as the World Diabetes Day.

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What is diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels, a condition where the pancreas struggles to produce sufficient insulin for sugar metabolism in the body.

Dr. Mancao said that individuals with diabetes would experience heightened sugar levels, and if left undigested, these sugars could potentially transform into fats.

“Mao bitaw usually modako gyud ang tawo if diabetes,” Dr. Mancao said.

(That is why usually the person will grow bigger if [he has] diabetes.)

READ: Diabetes: A bitter health crisis for Filipinos

Two distinct types

The doctor further explained that diabetes would manifest in two distinct types.

This classification typically encompasses Type 1 diabetes, where the body does not produce insulin, and Type 2 diabetes, which is characterized by the body’s ineffective use of insulin.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), type 1 diabetes, or childhood-onset is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin.

“Kini siya nga type na diabetes kay mooccur ni sila sa mga bata,” Dr. Mancao said.

(This type of diabetes would usually occur in children.)

READ: ‘Alarming’ rise in diabetes globally by 2050 – study

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, or the adult onset affects how your body uses sugar (glucose) for energy. It stops the body from using insulin properly, which can lead to high levels of blood sugar if not treated.

Dr. Mancao stated that individuals aged 40 and above are more prone to developing diabetes.

However, Type 2 diabetes is often preventable. Factors that contribute to developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, not getting enough exercise, and genetics.

In a recent report by WHO, more than 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was formerly called non-insulin-dependent, or adult onset.

Until recently, this type of diabetes was seen only in adults but it is now also occurring increasingly and frequently in children.

“Dili kaayo siya common sa bata, mas common siya sa adult. But mas luoy siya if sa bata maigo kay lifetime naman na. Dili pariha sa adult-onset sa middle-age na manggawas,” Dr. Mancao said.

(This is not common in children, this is common in adults. But it would be a pity if a child will be hit by this because this will be a lifetime thing. Unlike adult-onset, it will come out in middle-age persons.)

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Genetic factors

Dr. Mancao said that the primary cause of diabetes would often be attributed to genetic factors or hereditary influences.

This suggests that individuals may have an increased risk of developing diabetes if there is a family history of the condition.

“Kung diabetic imo papa, unya diabetic imo mama, most likely diabetic sad ka,” the doctor said.

(If your father is diabetic and your mother is diabetic, most likely you are also a diabetic.)

“No one can tell, only the doctor, so mas maayo if makapacheck-up ka as early (as possible),” Dr. Mancao said.

(No one can tell, only the doctor [can tell], so it would be better if you will undergo a checkup as early [as possible].)

Moreover, Dr. Mancao said that the only way to prevent this kind of illness would be to change your lifestyle.

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Key practices

According to WHO, maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves several key practices. 

Firstly, it’s important to reach and sustain a healthy body weight. 

Regular physical activity is essential, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

Additionally, adopting a nutritious diet, rich in essential nutrients while minimizing sugar and saturated fat intake, contributes significantly to one’s overall well-being. 

READ: How to be healthy and fit without breaking the bank and other stuff

Don’t smoke tobacco

Equally crucial is the decision not to smoke tobacco, as this choice significantly impacts one’s respiratory and cardiovascular health.

According to Dr. Mancao, as of now, there is no cure for diabetes. 

Instead, management revolves around lifestyle factors, primarily focusing on a well-balanced diet and regular check-ups.

“The only thing I can advise to people is to do regular check-ups and avoid food which have refined sugars in them,” Dr. Mancao said.

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