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World Diabetes Day: a day to reflect on healthy eating

One in ten people worldwide have some form of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 or gestational diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

The most recent 2016 WHO report on this chronic disease, which presents data for 2014, revealed a staggering figure: 422 million people across the world have diabetes.

In 2016, 1.6 million people died from the disease. On top of this, the WHO added another two million deaths (2012 figure) caused by conditions that develop as a result of diabetes, including heart disease, kidney failure, leg amputation, blindness and brain damage. By way of comparison, the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the world since January 2020, has caused 1.27 million deaths.


Healthy eating: an essential tool for combating diabetes


Photo by Sara Dubler on Unsplash


The main tool that diabetics can use to combat the disease (along with drugs, mainly insulin) is to follow a healthy diet. In order to prevent the disease, the main health authorities recommend reducing carbohydrate intake and cutting down on sweetened and ultra-processed products. This reduction needs to be even more drastic in the case of people already suffering from the disease.

Type 1 diabetes is difficult to prevent. The agents that trigger it are unknown and are still being investigated. However, in the case of type 2, there is evidence that lifestyle is directly related. According to the IDF, several studies (available on the website) have shown that a change in lifestyle can prevent the onset of this type of diabetes. This lifestyle combines moderate exercise and healthy eating.

As we have mentioned above, carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods must be removed from a diabetic’s diet. In addition, both the WHO and the IDF recommend limiting this type of food among healthy people to prevent the disease from developing.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) recommends cutting out sweetened drinks and consuming fruit, vegetables and pulses at least three times a day. In addition, they suggest eating nuts, lean white meat, and fish, and advocate limiting the amount of red meat. Naturally, they recommend reducing or cutting out alcohol.

This international forum, which works both to prevent the disease and to promote healthy lifestyles, encourages the consumption of wholemeal carbohydrates and unsaturated fats, such as olive, rapeseed and sunflower oil, as opposed to animal and saturated fats. The IDF is particularly concerned about the consumption of sweetened foods, especially soft drinks. In this regard, it is aligned with the recommendations put forward by the WHO in 2015, calling for limits on sugar intake.

However, it is also essential to draw up policies that promote healthy and active lifestyles. In this field, the WHO has developed guidelines to raise awareness among children about habits that will help them prevent diabetes.

Types of diabetes:

Type 1:

  • Type 1 can develop at any age, but it is most common among children and young adults. It usually requires extra insulin to offset the lack of this hormone generated by the body.

Type 2:

  • Type 2 is more common in adults and accounts for 90% of all cases. In this type of diabetes, treatment is based on a healthy lifestyle, comprehensive monitoring of diet and physical activity to combat sedentarism.

Gestational Diabetes:

  • There is a third type, namely gestational diabetes, which is suffered by women during pregnancy. It usually disappears after birth, but both mother and child are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Preventing diabetes is essential so as not to develop other related diseases. These are serious conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth. In addition, diabetes can also lead to complications in wounds that result in lower limb amputation, in the most extreme cases.

World Diabetes Day 2020 – A tribute to nurses

 This year, the IDF has decided to pay tribute across the world to nurses, the health profession that patients identify most with.


The idea is for patients, their families and all those who want to offer nurses the recognition they deserve, to share photos, tributes and videos with the hashtags #WorldDiabetesDay and #NursesMakeTheDifference.

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