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Chair's blog

Get a healthy start to fight diabetes

09 November 2015

We’ve probably all heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but one benefit of a balanced breakfast that you may not know, is that it can reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin – the hormone responsible for regulating our blood sugar – or is unable to react to insulin properly. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 is genetic but Type 2 can develop as a result of a poor diet and inactivity. About 90 per cent of diabetes patients have Type 2. Diabetes is a significant issue in Redbridge, with an estimated 17,000 patients living with the condition and many more at risk of developing it.

This Saturday, 14 November, is World Diabetes Day, and the theme for 2015 is encouraging everyone to start the day with a low calorie and fibre-rich breakfast. This one relatively small change can be a big help in the fight against diabetes, and can help existing patients manage their condition.

So why is a healthy breakfast so important? Not only does it keep your blood sugar levels steady, it keeps you fuller for longer, meaning you are less likely to reach for an unhealthy snack. Some ideas you could try include swapping white toast for wholegrain bread or topping it with chopped banana instead of sugary jam. Porridge is a particularly good choice for keeping you full until lunchtime – top with fresh fruit to tick off one of your five a day.

Further steps that can be taken to give you the best chance to avoid developing Type 2 diabetes include sticking to the recommended calorie count for your age and gender, and increasing your activity levels.

As with many conditions, the earlier we can diagnose diabetes the more successfully we can manage it, so if you have a family history of diabetes or are worried you may be at risk, there are a number of symptoms you should look out for. Don’t be afraid to speak to your GP if you experience any of the following:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Itching around the genital areas or frequent episodes of thrush
  • Cuts that heal slowly
  • Blurred vision.

There’s a wealth of resource online to help you learn more about diabetes: start with NHS Choices for an excellent overview, while websites such as this one host a wide range of diabetic-friendly recipes for anyone inspired to take their healthy cooking choices beyond the breakfast table. For local support, Redbridge residents can contact the Ilford branch of Diabetes UK.