BASICS OF DIABETES – Community Sensitization
Basics of Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that can seriously impair a person if not properly managed. The first step is to know the basics of the disease. There are different types of Diabetes, but since my discussion is on the basics, I will only give a general teaching on the disease condition.
When we talk about Diabetes, it has a lot to do with blood sugar disorder in the body. The disorder can be in two different forms. HIGH blood sugar or HYPERGLYCEMIA and LOW blood sugar or HYPOGLYCEMIA. Both forms of the disorder are equally dangerous. I underlined the phrase “equally dangerous” because I have seen patients, starve themselves with the hopes of bringing their blood sugar level down. Inadvertently, the blood sugar drops down to a dangerous level and the patient experiences even worst conditions.
The normal fasting blood sugar level is 80-100 and 170-200 after eating. For a pre-diabetic person, the fasting blood sugar level is 101-125 and 190-230 after eating. For a diabetic person, the fasting blood sugar level is 126+ and 220-300 after eating.
One important thing that we need to know about blood sugar, also called GLUCOSE, is that, our body needs it. It is the body’s fuel. In as much as we need glucose in order to function well, it has to be within the normal range.
How To Maintain a Normal Blood Sugar/Glucose Level:
There are many ways of maintaining a normal blood sugar level:
- Exercise regularly. What exercise does is to help muscles pick up sugars from the blood and burn them. If you have issues with blood sugar control, check levels regularly to make sure that you’re not too high or too low prior to exercising. This helps you respond appropriately to different blood sugar levels. You don’t want to engage in vigorous exercise when your blood sugar level is too low because you might become critically hypoglycemic.
- Adapt a healthy Diet. Foods that are low in carbs, low in calories and high in fiber, are good in patients with diabetes. Eating fruits and vegies is very important for diabetics. I’ve talked with some Gambians who believe that fruits are a bad choice if you’re diabetic. Their reason being that fruits contain sugar that causes glucose level to rise up to a level that is dangerous for the body. In reality, the sugar found in fruits is not harmful for your body. Fruits and vegies contain fiber that slows carb digestion and sugar absorption. For these reasons, it promotes a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
A combination of these measures will help a person obtain the best results.
The role of Garlic in Blood sugar control:
Garlic can lower blood sugar. It is important to note that garlic should be taken moderately at a level that is beneficial to the body. If taken in high doses, garlic might make blood sugar too low in people with diabetes. So be aware that garlic might cause hypoglycemia if taken in high doses or during periods that one’s blood sugar is already low.
There was a time that a message was circulating on WhatsApp that taking garlic early in the morning before eating breakfast is very good for diabetic patients. In theory, that is bad practice, because diabetic patients, especially those who take blood sugar medications before bedtime, wake up with low blood sugar in the morning. If one consumes garlic whilst the blood sugar is already low, and prior to breakfast, that individual stands a chance of being hypoglycemic.
We need to understand that both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are bad conditions. In trying to lower high blood sugar, a patient might fall too low and become hypoglycemic.
Reasons for poor Glucose control in The Gambia:
It is unfortunate that a lot of Gambians cannot afford regular health checkups. Those who have the means to do so are mostly not sensitized about seeing their primary physicians routinely even if they are not sick.
Another issue is that most diabetic patients do not do daily blood sugar checks in order to help in glucose control.
How can we, as healthcare providers, help sensitize The Gambian community about Diabetes?
There are many ways that we can help our people engage in healthy habits and practices to help manage diabetes:
No platform is too small to do this. This Website/Facebook page can help Gambians learn more about health practices. If you, as a patriotic Gambian, has any information to share, please do not hesitate to come on board to discuss the topic.
There are many Gambian WhatsApp groups. We can utilize these platforms for sensitizing our people about best health practices. Like I said, no platform is too small. The only challenge is having the motivation to start one. Think more about the benefits of doing so, rather than the low response of people, and possible criticism that you might encounter.
I really appreciate your support, and hopefully, we will take this platform to a higher level and more people would be motivated to be part of discussions.
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