By 2030, the number of Singapore residents above 40 with diabetes is projected to increase by another 200,000 from about 400,000 today. As there is no cure for diabetes, keeping it under control is crucial.

In diabetes, the pancreas produces too little or ineffective insulin, a hormone which lets body cells use blood sugar for energy. Diabetics have higher blood sugar levels than normal (hyperglycaemia). There are two major types of diabetes: type 1, often diagnosed in childhood, and type 2, largely caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.

Diabetes statistics in Singapore

  • Diabetes is the 10th leading cause of death in Singapore accounting for 1.7 per cent of total deaths in 2011.
  • 400,000: Number of diabetics in Singapore in 2013. Most are aged above 40.
  • 600,000: Projected number of diabetics by 2030.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that more than 346,000,000 people worldwide have diabetes.

Treating diabetes

"There is no cure for diabetes, which is a lifelong disease," according to doctors at the Department of Endocrinology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of SingHealth​ group.​​​ It can be controlled through various means such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, oral medication to balance blood glucose, insulin injections, and regular monitoring and control of blood sugar.

To prevent type 2 diabetes:

  1. Follow a proper diet. Besides insulin and medicine, eating healthily helps to control blood glucose levels and weight.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. If overweight, losing a few kilos can reduce the risk of diabetes.
  3. Get regular exercise. Exercise helps to control weight and also keeps the heart healthy.

7 common symptoms of type 2 diabetes

  • Fungal infection, itching of skin and genitals
  • Frequent urination
  • Constant hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Slow healing of wounds

Tips for a healthy diet when you have diabetes

1. Don't forget your grains

Unlike refined grain foods like white rice and white bread, whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protective plant chemicals called phytochemicals.

2. Pick food rich in proteins

Select protein-rich foods which are lower in fat and cholesterol such as lean meat, fish, yogurt, legumes and nuts.

3. Eat your fruit and veggies

Fruit and vegetables are naturally low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and ​fibre.

4. Cut the oil, fat, salt and sugar

Choose healthier foods which are lower in salt, added sugar and fat. Limit alcohol intake.

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