World Diabetes Day is held annually on November 14th to commemorate the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting who co-discovered insulin in 1922.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “World Diabetes Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of diabetes as a global public health issue and what needs to be done, collectively and individually, for better prevention, diagnosis and management of the condition.”
As we participate in celebrating World Diabetes Day today and in order to raise awareness about a disease that threatens millions in Egypt and worldwide, Ahram online discusses diabetes, speaks to experts, and offers tips on protection from the disease.
Unhealthy consumption of foods and drinks rich in sugar and fats as well as an unbalanced diet increase the risk of people not only gaining weight but also developing diabetes.
This entails in turn permanent changes in their health and lifestyle.
According to statistics issued by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), 18.4 percent of Egyptian adults had diabetes in 2022.
Many preserved and processed foods conceal sugar, reveals Dr Fawzi El-Shubaki, professor of nutrition at the National Research Institute.
According to El-Shubaki, doctors recommend that daily sugar consumption should not exceed 50 grams for women and 70 grams for men, but Egyptians, he says, usually consume far more than these amounts daily.
"It’s a decision to change your lifestyle," says Dr Asmaa El-Kateb, fitness and diet specialist.
"When people come to us complaining of weight gain and lethargy the first thing we look into is their sugar intake, which, unfortunately, in our society, is always higher than what doctors recommend."
Dr El-Kateb says that sugar addiction causes so many problems, including signs of premature aging; tooth decay; uncontrollable cravings for certain foods and substances; problems with eyesight; heart diseases; mood swings and weight gain.
"Therefore, curbing one’s appetite for sugar has a most profound effect on many aspects of one's health and appearance," she says.
There are, however, some tips we could use to protect ourselves from diabetes. These tips include:
- Regular glucose analysis for people of all age groups.
- Gradual reduction of sugar intake: if you normally have three spoonfuls of sugar in your daily cup of tea or coffee, start by reducing it by a quarter, then another quarter, etc. Going cold turkey is never a good idea!
- Reduction of beverages rich in caffeine to decrease sugar craving.
- Sticking to the rule of thumb of a maximum of six to seven spoonfuls of sugar per day.
- Opting for kinds of fruits that contain less sugar such as apples, oranges and strawberries
- Using artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages (you still have to research their side effects, though).