With 1 in 10 adults in the Middle East region suffering from diabetes, the highest prevalence in the world, it’s undeniably important for us to shine a light on the issue and talk about risk factors, warning signs, and prevention. Simple and small changes to your diet and lifestyle can have a huge impact on your risk for developing diabetes.

Risk Factors

  • There is a genetic element involved with type II diabetes. This doesn’t mean that if your mom or dad has diabetes you will get it too, it just means that a family history of diabetes increases your risk and requires you to be extra mindful and careful about what you eat. You should minimize other risk factors as much as you can.
  • Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for becoming diabetic and is the main cause of diabetes, particularly in Egypt. If you are overweight, losing just 10% of your weight can decrease your chances of developing diabetes by half! Small baby steps can help you reach that goal and have a huge impact on your quality of life as well.
  • If you’re not a regular exerciser, this in itself might increase your risk of developing diabetes. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. This puts less stress on your insulin-making cells. In short, your body can handle more because it is used to being put under hard conditions like exercise.
  • Whole-grains can protect against diabetes. The high levels of fiber in whole-grains causes a slower release of glucose into your bloodstream, so your body isn’t overloaded with large amounts of glucose all at once, like with refined grains. Read more about whole-grains and how you can incorporate them into your diet here.
  • The theme for World Diabetes Day this year is ‘healthy living starts at breakfast’. A healthy breakfast should keep blood sugar levels from getting too high and keep you full throughout the morning. While cereal and toast may be convenient and easy, these options raise blood sugar levels rapidly and may leave you hungry again before lunch.

The good news is type II diabetes is preventable. Making the right lifestyle and health choices will hugely decrease your risk of diabetes, and also other diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. This is why being aware is so important.

Warning Signs

  • Frequent Urination: If you notice you have to go to the bathroom more often than you used to, including perhaps needing to get up every couple of hours during the night to urinate, and you seem to be producing more urine when you do go, talk to your doctor.
  • Always Thirsty: It’s a domino effect; frequent urination causes you to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. If you often feel thirsty and you are drinking more water than usual, this is a warning sign for diabetes.
  • Weight Loss: Although being overweight might cause diabetes, once you develop diabetes you may find you actually begin losing weight because your body is not receiving the glucose it needs.
  • Foot Pain/Numbness: Your nerves are affected when you develop diabetes, which often leads to symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the feet.
  • Blurred Vision: With high blood sugar, the lens of your eye cannot function as well as usual. This is usually one of the earliest warning signs of type II diabetes.