Diabetes affects people from various ethnic backgrounds differently. Experts believe that people of East Asian (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese) descent have a higher risk for diabetes compared to other Canadians.
A community screening program in 9 Canadian cities found that 26% of Asians had previously-undiagnosed diabetes, compared to 2% of the general Canadian population.
East Asians should take extra care to lead healthy lives.
Here are some healthy living tips:
- Discuss your individual risk of diabetes: Ask your physician, nurse, pharmacist, or other primary health care provider about your individual risk for diabetes.
- Keep active: Regular exercise is good for everyone, and especially for people with diabetes.
- Eat a balanced, culturally-relevant diet: Translated versions of Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide are available, along with
an interactive tool that allows you to customize your own version of the Food Guide. Simple changes (e.g., using brown rice instead of white rice, or steaming instead of frying) may make a big difference. Heart-healthy East Asian recipe ideas can be found
here. For more help,
ask for a referral to a dietitian who is familiar with East Asian foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Check with your physician, nurse, and dietitian on how to reach and maintain a healthy weight over time.
- Take your medications as prescribed: Medications are often a necessary part of diabetes management. Asians may have more side effects from some medications used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so talk to your physician or pharmacist. If you are taking any traditional or herbal medications, please let your health care team know so that they can come up with the best overall medication regimen for you, and keep you safe from possible drug interactions.
- Know your target numbers: People with diabetes have specific targets when it comes to blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Find out what your target numbers should be, and work with your health care team to get there.
- Get a checkup from head to toe: Your specialists and regular health care team can help you check for signs of eye, kidney, nerve, and feet problems.
- Stop smoking as soon as possible: Smoking is harmful, and especially for people with diabetes. If you are a smoker, it's never too late to quit. There are many tools available to help you quit smoking.