Danger: Too much sugar!
About six years ago I woke up in the morning feeling dazed. It was so unlike any other mornings. I tried to get up on my feet but instantly I slumped to the bed. When I opened my eyes I felt my head was spinning. Even with my eyes closed, it had that spinning feeling. I did not like it at all. I waited for a few more minutes. Help me Lord, please! My wife and kids were all waiting for me to get ready for Mass. I got up, walked to the toilet and there was a sudden urge to vomit but nothing came out. It was not looking good and I was about to say we would not be able to go to church. I waited for a while longer and sensing that the spinning had subsided I said we could now go. During the drive the spinning feeling came back. My wife had to take over. I rested in my mum's place.
That afternoon, I went to the hospital's A&E. I was put on drips and all my vitals were checked. Nothing irregular except that my blood sugar was high!
In Brunei, diabetes is the third biggest killer for the past five years. Amongst the South East Asian nations, it is the highest ranked for adult diabetes prevalence. The health authorities here said 12.4 per cent of adults have diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and amputations among Bruneian adults. People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to experience heart attacks and strokes.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I had little idea what it was. It was something I read about in the papers and in the textbooks. It happened to other people. It was not something that I thought that I could experience first hand. And this is where I was dead wrong! According to a report, over 20,000 Bruneians are unaware that they have diabetes. Now for a population of 400,000, this 20k is a considerably significant proportion bearing in mind the impact this can have on productivity, and spending on health care in the country.
A cause often cited for diabetes is a person's lifestyle. The intake of too much food and too little exercise. I used to take two sachets of 3-in-1 coffee daily, not realising that the sugar content of that instant coffee is more than half of its weight! This basically means I was drinking sugar!
Many hot flavoured drinks contain shocking amounts of sugar. According to Action on Sugar, "Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit - Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Venti is the worst offender, containing a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar - more than THREE times the maximum ADULT daily intake of free sugars (7tsp/d)". The World Health Organisation has recommended that men consume no more than 35g and women 25g of sugar day, which equates to nine teaspoons for men and six for women. Now, check the amount of sugar in the drinks below.
A visit to the doctor was sobering. He told me that based on my blood sugar over a three month period, the number was high and I had to do something about it. He said, "Vincent, reduce your rice and noodles consumption." Now, if you're from Asia, you will know that for millions of people rice is a staple food. Noodles is also a favourite amongst many Asians. He sent me a link to read.
It says that "A bowl of rice has more than twice the carbohydrate content of a can of soft drink." Furthermore, the article says "Asians are more predisposed to diabetes than Caucasians". I could now understand how the condition came about in me.
As I had been taking rice regularly for many years and being an Asian I had higher risks of getting diabetes, not to mention that a sedentary lifestyle could also have played some part in the equation.
The doctor warned me he could increase my dosage of pills or I could take his advice. I didn't like taking pills and since he has been reminding me a number of times now about reducing my rice I have now heeded that.
Not taking rice is like not watching your favourite football team playing. It was difficult but perhaps for my own sake and for the sake of my family who I would like to see more of in my old age, it is something that I had to do. With medication, regular exercise and a reduction in carbs I no longer experience the spinning sensation in my head. I am grateful that I have another chance to look after myself and to live my life to the fullest, without the excessive sugar!
Do you know anyone who is suffering from diabetes? What are they doing to tackle this disease?
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