Yukoners are among the least healthy people in Canada according to a February 2015 report

released by the Conference Board of Canada looking at the health status of Canadians and citizens of a select number of other countries.

The report gave the territory a (D-) grade. British Columbia received an A. Canada received a B, overall.

How has the Yukon received such a low grade? The Conference Board of Canada emphasized that socio-economic factors, such as poverty, infrastructure, and cost of living, all factors that Yukon contends with, must be addressed to improve health outcomes. However, one contributing factor to Yukon’s low grade, a factor that makes it stand apart from other jurisdictions, is its poor track record in dealing with diabetes.

Of all 29 jurisdictions studied, Yukon has the highest diabetes mortality rate. This means all other provinces and territories in Canada, and all the other countries included in this study, do a better job of keeping people with diabetes alive.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, 5.5 per cent of Yukon’s population have either a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The Conference Board of Canada reports that 85 to 95 per cent of all diabetes cases in high-income countries like Canada are Type 2 diabetes. This would indicate that the majority of Yukoners with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Regarding this kind of diabetes, the food one eats plays an important role.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and hunger along with frequent urination and weight loss. If you think you might have issues in any of these areas, consult your health care practitioner. Diabetes can cause long-term complications such as heart disease, and damage to kidneys, nerves, eyes, and feet.

As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”: here are some lifestyle suggestions that can help prevent the development or progression of diabetes.

1. Re-assess your diet

Are you eating too much sugar? Soft drinks and candy bars are well known to have lots of sugar, but so do many other foods such as juices, processed grains like white rice, and many breakfast cereals. Read ingredient lists and nutrition facts on products before buying them so you know how much sugar is in your food.

2. Know your carbohydrates

The term “carbohydrate” describes a broad group of molecules that also includes sugars. There are two main categories of carbohydrates. Fast-acting carbohydrates are more easily absorbed by the body and therefore increase blood sugars more quickly. Examples include glucose and fructose, which are found in many foods such as some granola bars, cakes, and breakfast cereals. Slow-acting carbohydrates are a much healthier choice because they have a smaller effect on blood sugar. Examples include whole plant vegetables and leafy greens such as spinach, bok choy, and zucchini.

3. Exercise more

Insulin is the hormone that allows sugar to enter your cells. When you exercise, insulin works more effectively, so your blood sugars decrease. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a minimum of two and a half hours per week of physical activity is needed to receive health benefi ts. From skiing to skating, hiking to biking, Whitehorse has many opportunities to improve your health through exercise. If you have diabetes, low blood sugar can be a concern during exercise. Consult your health care provider on how to maintain healthy blood sugar levels before starting an exercise program.

Healthy eating choices and exercise are two excellent ways to reach your health goals. You deserve to be healthy. 

The Many Names of Sugar

Is this a sugar?

See for your self. Below are commonly used names of different kinds of sugars. Compare this list to the ingredient list printed on food packages you purchase. All of them raise your blood sugar.

carob

corn syrup

dextrin

dextrose

dulcitol

fructose

glucose

honey

lactose

laevulose

maltitol

maltodextrin

maltose

mannitol

mannose

molasses

saccharose

sorbitol

sorghum

treacle

turbinado

xylitol

xylose