Healthy Lifestyles: Eat well and Live Longer

Chronic diseases affect many people. Some are inherited, but we can avoid certain chronic illnesses by adapting healthy lifestyles.

Eating a healthy diet is difficult, as many people fail to look after their health. In 2013, then minister of health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, warned that the rise in chronic lifestyle diseases in South Africa was an epidemic.

Lydia Tsotetsi recently found out that she had diabetes, a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in the abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of sugar in the blood.
Eating Well Prolongs Your Life

“When I first found out I had sugar diabetes, I was hurt.  But then I remembered that most people in my family suffered from it. That calmed me down. I went for a check-up because I was always thirsty at night and would drink water, but still remain thirsty.

“I used to go to the toilet at night more than usual and had mood swings from hell. Little did I know those were the symptoms of diabetes,” said Lydia.

The 41-year-old, who is also a nurse, was worried by her blury vision, and discovered that it was as a result of the high-blood sugar level.

“They tested me, and the doctor gave me a shot of insulin. Since that day, I’ve managed to control my blood-sugar level. The thing that made my sugar levels high was that I used to skip breakfast.

“When they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they’re not lying – because if you skip breakfast, the pancreas will make its own sugar and that sugar goes to a different part of the body,” said Lydia.

She added that she had Type 2 diabetes, which mostly affects people who are in their 40s. She tries to manage it by following a certain eating plan.

“I don’t attend gym, but that doesn’t prevent me from exercising. So when I’m at work, I make sure I’m always flexible. I now eat every meal of the day and substitute vegetables for all unhealthy foods. I avoid fizzy drinks and drink a lot of water.”

Nurses recommend holistic ways of treating sugar diabetes. Diabetes can be managed successfully through a healthy lifestyle and often by the addition of medicine prescribed by doctors. Complications of diabetes should be prevented by ensuring access to proper treatment.

When complications present themselves, they should be detected and treated early to prevent long-term illness. Sister Lucky Radebe of Tsepo Themba in Soweto said she had been dealing with diabetic patients and learnt that different types of diabetes call for different types of treatment.

You need to know your type of diabetes and manage your sugar intake. There are two kinds of diabetes: Types 1 and 2. Type 1 patients inject themselves to survive, whereas Type 2 patients take pills to manage their diabetes.

Eat a healthy balanced diet and educate those around you so that they too can change their eating habits. It is hard to live with a person who is affected by a chronic disease – because it means changes in those close to the patient.

And change is not always easy. But with education they can try, says Sister Lucky. She is healthy at age 59, and is happy to have no symptoms of any form of chronic disease. Her secret is exercise and taking extra care that she eats healthy food to manage the disease. - Daily Sun

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