Thinking about nutrition on World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day (WDD). Led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by IDF and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes.  World Diabetes Day unites the global diabetes community to produce a powerful voice for diabetes awareness and advocacy, engaging individuals and communities to bring the diabetes epidemic into the public spotlight.

The human and economic burden of diabetes is enormous: it affects almost 400 million people, results in over 5 million deaths annually and consumes almost US 550 billion in health- related expenditures.  The majority of the costs related to diabetes are spent on treating complications, which can affect the heart, eyes, kidneys and feet; these complications can be prevented through early diagnosis and proper management of diabetes.  Delayed diagnosis means that many people already have at least one complication by the time they are diagnosed with diabetes.  Over 70% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed by adopting healthier lifestyles, equivalent to up to 150 million cases by 2035.  A healthy diet containing leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, lean meat, fish and nuts can help reduce a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes and eating a healthy breakfast decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Healthy Living and Diabetes is the World Diabetes Day theme for 2014 – 2016. Activities and materials in 2014 focus on the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and effectively manage all forms of diabetes to avoid complications. Nutrition is not something that we think of as part of our role as physiotherapists and physical therapists but the implications of poor nutrition can have massive effects on the outcomes that we are trying to achieve.  Think about how much work we do in trying to combat inflammation and how anti-inflammatory nutrition advice could contribute to this, or how many people we see in cardiac rehabilitation where appropriate nutritional advice is key.

As important as advice about appropriate levels of exercise is, should we also be considering our role in supporting appropriate nutritional advice to combat Diabetes?

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