Preventing diabetes: the power of lifestyle choices

Gary Feldman
13 November 2023
4 min read

Diabetes, a chronic metabolic condition marked by elevated blood sugar levels, is experiencing a global surge, and South Africa is no exception. Asthe world unites to observe World Diabetes Awareness Day on November 14th, it's crucial to shine a spotlight on the silent epidemic affecting millions. Diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder, is reaching alarming proportions, with increasing rates of diagnosis and associated health complications. Fortunately, numerous instances of type 2 diabetes, are preventable through lifestyle decisions. We discuss the influence of lifestyle choices in averting diabetes and examine the significance of prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs) and chronic benefits within South Africa's medical schemes to assist in the treatment of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is closely associated with lifestyle factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet. This chronic condition is particularly prevalent among adults and has a profound impact on an individual's health and well-being.

  • Dietary Choices: A balanced diet is a cornerstone of diabetes prevention. Choose for fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, sugary beverages, and high-sugar snacks. Portion control is also essential. A registered dietitian can assist you in crafting a personalised meal plan aligned with your dietary preferences and health goals.
  • Regular Physical Activity: Physical inactivity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and control blood sugar levels. Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Strength training exercises can further enhance your physical well-being.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to prevent type 2 diabetes. Excess body fat, particularly around the waist, can increase insulin resistance. If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can substantially lower your diabetes risk. A healthcare provider can help you set realistic weight loss goals and monitor your progress.
  • Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels: Regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels, particularly if you have a family history of diabetes or other risk factors, can help identify potential issues early. This proactive approach allows for timely interventions and better diabetes prevention.
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress can contribute to unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as overeating or neglecting exercise. Practicing stress management techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
  • Adequate Sleep: Sleep is often overlooked in diabetes prevention. Poor sleep patterns and sleep deprivation can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support your overall health.

In South Africa, medical schemes play a crucial role in healthcare provision. They offer members access to Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs) and chronic benefits, which can be invaluable in managing and preventing diabetes.

  • PMB Coverage for Diabetes: Diabetes is classified as a PMB in South Africa. This means that medical schemes are legally obligated to cover the diagnosis, treatment, and management of diabetes according to clinical protocols. PMBs ensure that individuals receive the necessary care and treatment for their diabetes without financial burden.
  • Chronic Benefits for Ongoing Care: For those living with diabetes, chronic benefits within medical schemes are essential. These benefits cover the cost of chronic medications and regular check-ups to monitor the condition. Access to chronic benefits facilitates ongoing care and adherence to treatment plans.
  • Regular Health Check-Ups: Leveraging the benefits provided by your medical scheme, you can ensure regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. These check-ups are essential for monitoring your overall health and diabetes risk. Your healthcare provider can recommend appropriate screenings and tests, ensuring early detection and intervention if needed.
  • Access to Diabetes Education: Many medical schemes offer access to diabetes education programs. These programs provide members with valuable information and resources to help them manage their condition effectively. Understanding diabetes is a key component of prevention and management.

It's crucial to stay informed about the specific benefits and coverage offered by your medical scheme. Understand the regulations and guidelines related to diabetes management. If you encounter any issues or have questions about your benefits, don't hesitate to contact your NMG Healthcare Consultant.

Preventing diabetes is achievable through the power of lifestyle choices. By making informed decisions regarding your diet, physical activity, weight management, and overall well-being, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moreover, in South Africa, medical schemes, with their Prescribed Minimum Benefits and chronic benefits, play a pivotal role in supporting individuals in managing and preventing diabetes. It's essential to recognise the synergy between lifestyle choices and the healthcare resources provided by medical schemes in the fight against diabetes. Remember, diabetes prevention is not just about avoiding a diagnosis; it's about embracing a healthier, more vibrant life.

T&Cs apply. NMG Consultants and Actuaries (Pty) LTD is an authorised financial services provider FSP 12968


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