By Tumininu Ojelabi Hassan
Consumption of alcohol and carbonated drinks alongside smoking has been linked to worsening the condition of people living with chronic health conditions, especially diabetes.
The World Health Organization, (WHO) estimates the prevalence of diabetes in Nigeria to be 4.3% and the prevalence is largely attributed to the lifestyle changes caused by urbanization and its results, industries producing unhealthy diets including sugar-sweetened drinks, lack of exercise, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.
Based on statistics, alcohol and carbonated drinks bought by Nigerians in the first six months of 2022 amounted to N599.1 billion indicating a 31.2 % increase from the N456.44 billion spent during the same period in 2021.
According to Dr. T.I. Adeeko, a medical doctor, who spoke with our correspondent in an interview, excessive consumption of alcohol and carbonated drinks can only worsen the condition of a diabetic patient or put someone with a genetic trait of diabetes into a higher risk of being diabetic. Alcohol and carbonated drinks do not cause Diabetics. She clarified that this belief is just a misconception.
“Whether someone drinks alcohol, carbonated drinks or not, it doesn’t stop them from having diabetes. Alcohol and carbonated drinks can increase the risk factors of developing the ailment but it doesn’t cause it. For example, when an ulcer patient consumes alcohol and carbonated drinks excessively, it worsens the ulcer but that doesn’t mean it caused the ulcer,” she clarified.
Adeeko stated that there are two types of diabetes. The Type 1 diabetes and the type 2 diabetes. The Type 1 diabetes is common in children.
“The Type 1 diabetes simply means the body is not producing insulin in the pancreas, this is not caused by any reason. It is an auto immune condition, when the body attack itself.
“When the body attacks the pancreas, there will be no insulin production and sugar control will not occur in the body. This happens right from birth and sometimes it’s genetic. The Type 1 diabetes is also called Pediatric diabetes and it occurs mostly amongst children within 0-17 years age range. To treat the Type 1 diabetes, patients will be place on insulin therapy for life.”
The Type 2 diabetes is the common one amongst adults mostly in the middle age within 30-50 years. The body produces insulin but it’s not enough. Three things occur in the type 2 diabetes. Firstly, the body resists insulin action in the body. Secondly, there is inadequate production/secretion of insulin to the body, and lastly, there is excessive production of glucagon, which contributes to poor regulation of the blood sugar,” she explained.
Speaking on the causes of diabetes, she explained that the major cause of diabetes is due to genetic factor, that is, when someone’s parent is diabetic, there’s a likelihood that the person would be diabetic. However, others factor contribute to increasing someone’s chances of being diabetic.
They include, excessive intake of alcohol and carbonated drinks, high intake of sugar, consuming foods high in calories and cholesterol. In addition, she mentioned the common symptoms of diabetes.
“There are three common symptoms in both types of diabetes. Polyuria, which is a condition, where someone urinates excessively. When a test is carried out, the urine contains glucose. Another symptom is Polyphagia, a condition whereby someone eats a lot. They are always hungry due to the increase of sugar intake. The third common symptom is Polydipsia, a condition, where patients living with diabetes drink a lot of water,” she expatiated
However, the medical expert disclosed that some symptoms are peculiar to each type of diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, unexplainable weight loss is experienced, while the symptoms noticed in Type 2 diabetes are obesity, neuropathy, low extremities paresthesia, tingling sensation in the hands, blurry vision and hypoglycemia, which happens when diabetic patients have not eaten.
She emphasized the importance of preventing and managing the health condition.
“Diabetes is very tricky. It’s either the Pancreas isn’t functioning at all, which is Type 1 diabetes or the pancreas is
functioning partially, which is the Type 2 diabetes. When someone’s family has a history of diabetes it’s best to avoid risk factors like too much intake of alcohol and carbonated drinks, smoking, consumption of foods high in calories and cholesterol.
“Diabetes has no cure; it can only be managed. To manage this condition, it’s best to avoid risk factors stated above to avoid complications like Diabetic foot, kidney damage and damage to other organs. In 2023, no one should die of diabetes if well managed. Diabetic patients should keep tab on their sugar level. Once there’s a dysfunction of one organ, others organs should be checked regularly. Injury should be avoided, eating of fruits and vegetables in good proportions is essential.”
Contrary to what people think, diabetic patients can eat anything but in little proportions to reduce the intake of calories. They should have a diet plan created by their dietician. Regular medical checkups should be done. Passing blood sugar test is carried out as early as 7am before eating, the blood sugar level should not surpass 126mg/dl while in the Random blood sugar, which can be done anytime in the day, the blood sugar should not be above 200mg/dl per day,” she analyzed.
Our correspondent reached out to Adewunmi Hamzat, a 47 year old man living with diabetes, who shared his story.
“I became diabetic at the age of 41. I wasn’t even aware of this until I started feeling sick. I went to the hospital, a test was carried out, which indicated my blood sugar level was 160mg/dl. Afterwards, the doctor asked if I had a family history of diabetes and I told him my dad is diabetic. He prescribed drugs, which I use till date. Also, he advised that I should reduce my alcohol intake and maintain a healthy lifestyle”, he narrated.
He spoke on the challenges of managing diabetes, especially in Nigeria.
“Honestly, living with diabetes is challenging both financially and mentally. I am married with three children; before I became diabetic, my income could provide basic needs for my family and I. Since I became diabetic, we have been managing to afford basic needs. Another challenge is blurry vision, I get tired easily and I urinate a lot, which can be really uncomfortable.
“Due to my health condition, I stopped drinking alcohol and my diet has changed based on the doctor’s advice. I eat more of fruits, vegetables, I hardly eat red meat, instead I take fish. Also, I go for medical checkup regularly to avoid complications,” he added.
According to Dr. Adeeko, awareness is a key approach to reduce the mortality rate attributable to diabetes. Educating people on managing their health condition is paramount as Ignorance has killed a lot of diabetic patients. She advised against the use of local herbs, saying it should be banned as it leads to complications, like kidney damage because diabetic patients come back to the hospital in a worse condition after taking local herbs.
“Counseling is an important part of dealing with diabetic people, especially in Nigeria, where a lot of people live in poverty. We take time to counsel our patients due to the financial implications of diabetes and we also educate them on the importance of screening,” she concluded.