How I managed Diabetes with Diet and Medication for 50 years

Diabetes, according to the World Health Organisation, is a chronic, metabolic disease characterised by elevated levels of blood sugar which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. For many people, it is a tough disease to manage. However, to Mr. Emmanuel Adeyinka, an octogenarian who has lived with diabetes for almost 50 years, managing the condition by consistently controlling blood sugar, is not only possible but easy. LARA ADEJORO reports:


Many people believe that persons living with diabetes may not live long due to the complications associated with the disease, such as kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. However, Mr. Emmanuel Adeyinka, who has lived with the disease for almost 50 years, believes that living long as a diabetic patient is possible.


According to him, all that is required is the right attitude to diet and compliance with drug therapy. The 87-year-old man has developed an unflagging determination in managing his condition following his diagnosis over 49 years ago.

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“It will be 50 years by January 2022 since I’ve been living with diabetes,” he said.

Recalling the incident that led to his diagnosis, Adeyinka’s words highlight just how far the treatment of diabetes has advanced. The octogenarian was diagnosed with diabetes after he returned from a trip.


“I recollect that I went for a function and I drank a bottle of wine but upon my return to Ibadan, I realised I wasn’t feeling too well. I went to the hospital and I was diagnosed with diabetes,” he said.

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Determined to live

Adeyinka didn’t let the condition deter him despite the low knowledge of the condition at that time but he braced himself up to live a healthy, long life, regardless.

How I managed diabetes with diet and medication for 50 years; Man
How I managed Diabetes with Diet and Medication for 50 years

“The condition is hereditary. My mother had it and she lived for 100 years. My maternal grandfather had it; my mother’s brother had it and he lived for over 100 years. So, I was determined to live long with the condition,” he said.


How I achieve blood sugar control

Adeyinka is currently the Vice Chairman of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, in the South West region, and Chairman of the association in Oyo State.

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Sharing his journey with PUNCH HealthWise, Adeyinka attributes his tight blood sugar control to compliance with his doctor’s prescriptions and eating healthily.


“After my diagnosis, I was placed on drugs immediately and I go for regular medical check-ups. I take my medications regularly,” the healthy-looking octogenarian said.


Resilience and consistency

Adeyinka said he knows what he has to deal with and has decided to get on with it without allowing it to get him down.


This resilience is apparently a major factor in his incredible longevity. As he puts it: “Diabetes does not kill; you can live as long as God permits if you are willing to do what is required of you without giving up.”

Making necessary lifestyle changes, in addition to sticking to the right diet, has improved Adeyinka’s life and he hopes this will motivate others to succeed as well.


“Some diabetic patients are usually told to eat just plantain and beans but it is not meant to be so. A diabetic patient can eat anything but it must be in moderation.


“A diabetic should avoid soft drinks, sugary fruits; not eating eba or popcorn. When eating swallow, it is good to eat with a variety of soups. But, it is important to avoid soft drinks and sugary fruits.


“A diabetic should eat fruits always but not fruits that are sweet; don’t eat fruits like pineapple, mango but eat fruits recommended by the doctor.


“You must obey your doctor’s recommendations for living with diabetes, eat healthily and exercise.


“My secrets are simple: I am grateful to God for creating and keeping me. The second secret is to be obedient by complying with the instructions of my physician and the third is to comply with medical prescriptions.


“For the past 17 years, I drive myself. I travel anywhere by myself.


“Diabetes is a life-long disease but it can be well managed with the right attitude. All you need to do is not to relent on what you’ve been advised to do; or else the progress you’ve made will be reversed,” he said.


The World Health Organisation said the most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, which usually occurs in adults when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not make enough insulin.


“In the past three decades, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically in countries of all income levels. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin by itself.


“For people living with diabetes, access to affordable treatment, including insulin, is critical to their survival. There is a globally agreed target to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity by 2025,” WHO said.

An estimated 24 million people are currently living with diabetes in Africa, according to the International Diabetes Federation. The continent is expected to experience the highest increase in diabetes globally, with the number of Africans suffering from the disease predicted to rise to 55 million by 2045, an increase of 134 percent, compared with 2021.


WHO added that Africa is the region with the highest number of people who do not know their diagnosis – an estimated 70 per cent of people with diabetes do not know they have the disease.


The UN agency said the starting point for living well with diabetes is an early diagnosis – the longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes are likely to be.


“Easy access to basic diagnostics, such as blood glucose testing, should therefore be available in primary health care settings. Patients will need periodic specialist assessments or treatment for complications.


“A series of cost-effective interventions can improve patient outcomes, regardless of what type of diabetes they may have.


“These interventions include blood glucose control, through a combination of diet, physical activity and, if necessary, medication; control of blood pressure and lipids to reduce cardiovascular risk and other complications; and regular screening for damage to the eyes, kidneys, and feet, to facilitate early treatment,” the world health body said.


Adeyinka, who is now an educator for diabetes and high blood pressure, urges the government to assist patients with diabetes.

“We need more awareness on this condition. We need more awareness in the church, mosques, and public places. People are still ignorant when it comes to diabetes and this ignorance is leading to deaths.


“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we lost about 16 of our members because they could not manage it or access care. Then, only a few health practitioners can treat diabetes. If you see 10 persons with diabetes, maybe it’s only one person that won’t have hypertension because both diseases go together.


“For instance, I have diabetes and hypertension but I take care of myself,” he said.


A professor of Medicine and Endocrinology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof. Olufemi Fasanmade, said there are about 5 million people with diabetes in Nigeria, warning that the number might double over the next two decades.


“Every year, the number keeps increasing and Africa has the highest risk of diabetes because our population is getting older, poverty is increasing and people are getting fatter.


“From all the projections, we will be having a double of that number in the next 20 years; we will be having 10-20 million people with diabetes.”


Fasanmade said diabetes is a major public health condition, yet it does not get the attention it deserves.


“The number of people with diabetes in Nigeria is much more than the number of people that have HIV, TB, malaria and typhoid put together.


“If you have five million people with the condition, then it is a very major public health condition because there are some states in Nigeria that don’t have up to five million people.


“Those that have HIV/AIDS are just a third of that number, yet it [diabetes] does not get the attention it deserves.”


According to him, a diabetic patient in Nigeria who is knowledgeable gets the appropriate drugs on time and is motivated to treat and check himself regularly, has almost an equal life expectancy like any other person.


“However, a person with diabetes who is either ignorant, poor or goes to native doctors, lasts for up to five years from when he is diagnosed with diabetes,” Fasanmade said.

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Temi Badmus is a Food scientist and an Art enthusiast. She is an health freelancer, and media Manager. She is a humorous and controversial writer, who believes all form of writing is audible if it's done well. Temi Badmus specializes on indigenous food nutrient research and values. She believes in reaching out to people with health decline through articles and giving advice on good eating habit.

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