Just take our test and you’re on the way to slashing your risk
BY MATTHEW BARBOUR1. WHAT’S YOUR PREFERRED EXERCISE?
a)Slow, steady cardio
b)Intensive intervals, squash or five-a-side football
c)I’m a weights man
d)Reaching for the remote
This is definitely one to sweat on. “Up to 50 per cent of new diabetes cases could be avoided with exercise. And you only have to do a little for significant benefits,” says Dr Philip McTernan, from the Unit for Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Warwick in the UK.
For maximum effect, fast-track with high-intensity interval training. Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland found five reps of 30-second sprints followed by four minutes of light jogging, twice a week for six weeks, improves your body’s response to insulin by 23 per cent. Insulin is the hormone that regulates your blood-sugar levels. “Sprints prime your muscles to respond better to insulin,” says study author Dr James Timmons.
If you’d rather pump iron than pound pavements, make it light and fast. University of Helsinki research found no-rest circuit training (using 60 per cent of your one-rep max) was as effective as aerobic exercise at improving insulin response. “The key is the aerobic element and the intensity – lifting heavy weights with rest between sets doesn’t have the same effect,” says Timmons.
The lesson: it’s not how big you go; it’s how long you pump for.2. WHAT’S YOUR POST-DINNER TIPPLE?
In a rather palatable prescription, a couple of 100-millilitre glasses of wine daily will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by around 30 per cent, according to research by a team of Dutch scientists published in Diabetes Care. But stop at two. Any more and you begin to increase your risk of other health problems. And avoid sweet dessert wines, port or sherry, which have four times the sugar of ordinary vino.
Further good news is that an espresso will also lower your diabetes risk. Stockholm University researchers found for each cup of coffee you drink daily (up to four cups), you get a 16 per cent drop in insulin resistance, high levels of which are known to raise your diabetes risk. Wine and coffee cocktail anyone?3. WHAT’S YOUR CHOSEN BREAKFAST?
a) High-fibre cereal
b) Nothing before midday
c) Full fry-up
Skipping breakfast is like skipping your medication. A Harvard Medical School study found that people who ate breakfast every day were half as likely to develop diabetes as those who didn’t. No greasy fry-ups, though: the researchers found the Poms’ gift to morning cuisine actually increases your diabetes risk. Go for multi-grain cereal, as high-fibre foods were found to lower diabetes risk an additional 15 per cent.
Don’t skimp on the milk either, since research in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked high dairy intake to a 72 per cent drop in diabetes risk. Researchers credit the calcium for this, but if you can’t face too much cow-juice, don’t panic.
Eating just one portion of dairy a day was linked to a 21 per cent reduction in risk. So you can still milk the benefits.4. HOW DO YOU REFUEL AFTER YOUR WORKOUT?
a) Sports drink
b) Orange juice
c) A can of soft drink
d) Water does me fine
They may keep you going during your workout, but sugary sports drinks aren’t good news when it comes to outrunning diabetes. University of Massachusetts scientists recently discovered that exercising didn’t deliver the beneficial diabetes-avoiding effect on insulin sensitivity when the expended energy was immediately replaced with carbohydrates.
That can of cola is worse: University of Helsinki researchers found drinking 300ml of fizzy, sweet drinks daily means you’re 67 per cent more likely to develop the Big D. Apparently, the high sugar content is forced into your bloodstream at speed by the CO2 bubbles, which wreaks havoc on your system.
Even orange juice gets the thumbs down from Harvard Medical School scientists, who found just one 300ml glass daily can raise your diabetes risk by 24 per cent. “Its lack of fibre can spike blood-sugar levels, while the same isn’t true of whole fruit,” says Dr Tony Barnett, clinical director for diabetes endocrinology at Heart of England NHS Trust. “Post-exercise, stick to water and get your sugars and salts from fruit.” Notice the absence of the words “rum” and “coke” there.5. DO EITHER OF YOUR PARENTS HAVE DIABETES?
b) Just one
d) No, but they’re of Aboriginal descent or were born overseas
It seems Philip Larkin was right about mum and dad, at least as far as diabetes goes. “Genetics is the single biggest predictor of diabetes,” says Barnett. “One parent who suffers raises your risk 20 per cent, two raises it 50 per cent. If yours have – or had – diabetes, get checked by your GP every two years after the age of 25. Leaving it unchecked could mean a lifetime dependent on medication and increased risk of everything from heart disease to blindness.”
Indigenous Australians are more than three times as likely as non-indigenous Australians to report some form of diabetes. It also develops at an earlier age in Aboriginal people. Among people born overseas, diabetes rates were highest in those born in Southern and Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and South-East Asia. So if your parents fall into these categories, the advice is to get tested every two years and reduce other risk factors as much as possible.6. ANY OF THESE YOUR POISON, MR VICE GUY?
a) Pizza, burgers and kebabs
b) The 20-a-day habit
c) The confectionery aisle
If the takeaway is on speed dial, your GP should be, too. “It’s a myth that eating sweets gives you diabetes, but large portions of simple carbs and fat – aka pizzas and burgers – cause extended elevated blood-sugar levels, which are the biggest dietary cause of diabetes,” says McTernan.
And it’s yet another health warning for smoking. “As well as quadrupling cardiovascular disease risk in existing diabetics, smoking raises blood-sugar levels and inhibits your body’s ability to use insulin,” warns McTernan. Smoking eight a day increases your diabetes risk by 22 per cent; 20-a-day and it’s more than 60 per cent, Diabetes UK reports.
If you don’t smoke, stay well away from office doorways, too. Researchers from the Deep South Centre for Occupational Health and Safety in the US found non-smokers breathing in smoke had a 17 per cent higher risk of developing the disease. No office gossip is juicy enough for that.
|1a +2||2a -1||3a +2||4a -2||5a 0||6a -3|
|1b +4||2b +2||3b -1||4b -1||5b -4||6b -4|
|1c +2||2c +2||3c -3||4c -3||5c -6||6c 0|
|1d -3||4d +2||5d -4|
+10 to 0 = Bloody healthy
-1 to -10 = Bloody close
-11 to -20 = Bloody future
“Spot it early and do something about pre-diabetes and there’s a 58 per cent chance you can avoid the full-blown condition – once it’s set in, there’s no known way of curing it,” says McTernan.For further information visit Diabetes Australia