Noncommunicable diseases News South Africa

Study shows type 2 diabetes reduces life expectancy

A new UK study has revealed that women with type 2 diabetes (T2D) have a life expectancy of five years less than average, while those diagnosed with T2D at a younger age have a reduced life expectancy of more than eight years.
Nutritional consultant, Vanessa Ascencao
Nutritional consultant, Vanessa Ascencao

The research presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting in Stockholm examined data from over 12,000 English patients with T2D over 10 years and found that the risk of early death was 84% higher in people with diabetes.

Women with T2D had a 60% increased chance of early death and may live five years less than the average woman, while men with T2D had a 44% increased risk of premature death and may live four and half years less.

Smoking shortened the life expectancy of people with T2D by 10 years and being diagnosed with T2D before the age of 65 reduced life expectancy by over eight years.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 4.6 million South Africans have diabetes, half of whom are undiagnosed. And at least 95% of diabetes is caused by being overweight or obese, an issue that affects half of all South African adults.

Preventative measures

Nutritional consultant, Vanessa Ascencao says that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and Covid-19 has highlighted the significant burden of the disease. Still, it can be managed by following a holistic approach to health.

“Optimise your health by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy weight whether you have diabetes or not. At least 80% of people with prediabetes are unaware that they have it, so make sure to follow a healthy diet rich in nutrients and foods as close to nature as possible,” said Ascencao.

“Increase intake of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, lean protein, fatty fish, brown rice, legumes and, beans. Plan healthy meals ahead, exercise regularly, manage stress, avoid processed and sugary foods, avoid smoking and try high-quality supplements like spirulina,” she added.

Studies show that spirulina has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s shown to help balance blood sugar and blood pressure levels in patients with T2D and may reduce blood lipids and triglyceride levels protecting against heart disease and metabolic syndrome,” she said.

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