The Naked Truth About Diabetes

truth about diabetes

Today happens to be World Health Day. I always find that these days are a great opportunity for us to educate ourselves on relevant world health related matters. With this year’s focus being diabetes, my ears perked up just a little bit more because of a recent article I wrote.


A few months ago, by chance, I met Reyaaz Hanekar and was blown away by his story and his drive and dedication to better his life. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and staring death in the face he made the decision to save his life. (Read it!)

So many people are either quietly battling Diabetes or are on the brink of a diagnosis. The fact is Diabetes is serious. As Diabetes South Africa state,


There is no such thing as ‘mild’ diabetes. Diabetes is always serious. If it is left untreated or is not well managed, the high levels of blood glucose associated with diabetes can slowly damage both the fine nerves and the small and large blood vessels in the body, resulting in a variety of complications.”

These complications include heart disease, blindness, amputation, kidney disease and erectile dysfunction or impotence. Diabetes can be fatal and in order to combat it we need to know how to detect it, prevent it and treat it.

Diabetes is “a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers blood glucose. Absence or insufficient production of insulin, or an inability of the body to properly use insulin causes diabetes.”

I wanted to know more so I scoured the webisphere and here are some of the facts that I discovered:

Surprising Risk Factors


  • You’re at risk if you’re over 35 years old.
  • The highest risk group in South Africa are people of Indian descent.
  • If you’ve given birth to a baby over 4kg, you’re at risk too.


A simple finger-prick test at your local pharmacy or clinic is all it takes to diagnose the strong likelihood that you may have diabetes. This can be done within a minute.

What’s the Difference between Type 1 & Type 2?

Type 1 Diabtes 

In type 1 diabetes, your body produces little or no insulin. To understand why this matters, we need to know what Insulin does for us.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).”

Treating type 1 requires daily insulin injections. It most often develops in childhood or teens. It used to be called insulin-dependent or juvenile onset diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 is known as non-insulin-dependant diabetes. It occurs most commonly in older people who are overweight and may have high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol. Type 2 diabetics have few or no ketones in their urine at diagnosis.

If you have type 2 Diabetes, your pancreas produces insulin, but the insulin does not work efficiently. “The cells send a signal back to the pancreas, which in turn senses a too-high blood glucose level. The pancreas then manufactures more and more insulin in an effort to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.”

Treating Type 2 Diabetes requires dietary changes, exercise and medication. Diet and exercise alone are often all that is needed to bring blood glucose down to manageable levels. The normal range for blood glucose levels is between 4-6mmol/l.

Know your Symptoms

If you’re suffering from unusual thirst (as Reyaaz was), Frequent urination, Unusual weight loss, Extreme fatigue or lack of energy, Blurred vision, Frequent or recurring infections, Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, boils and itching skin, Tingling and numbness in the hands or feet – visit your doctor – It can save your life.

Preventing Diabetes

Education, Healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle management are all components that play a role in avoiding Diabetes. These are all pillars that Nutreats stands by and why we are here.

To learn more about Diabetes in South Africa and find tools to help you educate yourself visit Dessa or Diabetes South Africa.

For inspiration on kick-starting a healthy life, visit our profiles section. Stories like that of Caroline Wostmann, will make you want to get off the couch.

For Healthy Recipes to kick-start a life of healthy eating (not dieting!) visit our recipes section or buy our e-book Healthy Eating on a budget. You can get yourself a free sample by clicking here.

Learning to reduce your stress levels daily can also help in managing blood glucose levels. Reading our mind section by Life Coach Paula Quinsee will give your practical tools for reducing stress in life. While you’re at it why not enter our competition to win her latest book?

For weekly inspiration, tools, tips and news in all things Healthy Living (Mind, Body and Life!) Subscribe to our newsletter!

Feige Lewin

Feige Lewin

Feige is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to code things, design things, and all things beauty.
Feige Lewin

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