For many people, somewhere in the 30’s, priorities around health change. While our waistline used to dictate what we put in your mouths, as we get older, good health becomes the priority.
Sometimes, this mindset shift is sparked by a diagnosis. And there’s one that starts to become more common in the 40s: Type-2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the result of your body producing insulin, but not using this pancreatic hormone effectively, as the body intended. The wide range of symptoms include thirst, always needing to urinate, tiredness, constant hunger, skin infections, blurred vision, headaches, cramps, weight gain and mood issues.
Being over 45 and having a history of heart disease are risk factors, but what’s more important to know is what you can control. For example, weight control, healthy diet (with low cholesterol), and physical activity.
The daily biological rollercoaster of emergency services
But, for the exhausted, disengaged first responder, who works shifts (often nights), these cornerstone activities for good health aren’t easy to master. According to ex-officer and acclaimed author, Dr Gilmartin, “police experience an elevated adrenal cortical sympathetic stress response, causing the liver to release glucose. The pancreas responds by secreting insulin to allow glucose to enter the cell.”
Chronically elevated levels of insulin initiate a string of problems that make up metabolic syndrome, including type 2 diabetes. Gilmartin advocates going to the root cause: keeping insulin levels under control.
While no cure, a healthy lifestyle controls it
Type-2 diabetes is progressive and must be managed. Diabetes Australia notes that sufferers are four times more likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes. It’s also the leading cause of PREVENTABLE blindness. Amputations are 15 times more common and mental health disorders affect 30% of people with diabetes.
For emergency support workers, there needs to be an even greater focus on eating well to manage blood glucose levels. Regular exercise will complement this, helping to lower blood pressure and weight. Medication is often required to support the body’s processes.
Low sugar and carb diets are preferable. For inspiration choosing foods, meal plans and serving sizes, visit this resource. This can help busy responders plan their meals in advance. Specialists can help workers construct specific eating plans and exercise regimes that are realistic to manage with evolving shifts. Blood glucose monitoring habits are important to solidify with first responders who experience fragmented work settings. Open communication with colleagues and departments can ease the pressure of ‘finding time’ or private areas to test levels.
Speaking with a professional counsellor or psychologist can assist in accepting, processing and embracing new lifestyle traits.
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Please note: some articles on this website are compiled from material obtained externally. Although we make every effort to ensure information is correct at the time of publication, we accept no responsibility for its accuracy. Health-related articles are intended for general information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your doctor. The views expressed in articles are not necessarily those of Emergency Services Health.