The Johannesburg Council Chambers goes blue for WDD

In a call to action and effort to mobilise South Africans to take charge of their health, Novo Nordisk in partnership with the City of Johannesburg kicked off World Diabetes Day by lighting the Johannesburg Council Chambers blue last night. Today they are hosting a diabetes walk in Maponya Mall to commemorate World Diabetes Day. The public is urged to come to Maponya on this day for free diabetes-, blood pressure-, BMI- and cancer screening.

World diabetes stats

At present, nearly half a billion people are living with diabetes worldwide.2b Africa currently holds the highest ranking in all International Diabetes Federation (IDF) regions with an alarming 69% of adults who have undiagnosed diabetes.2c

Here at home, Statistics South Africa has recorded that diabetes is the second biggest cause of death among South Africans,1 placing it among the populous countries that have the highest numbers of people living with diabetes.2d In 2016, diabetes was alarmingly ranked the leading cause of death amongst women in the country surpassing Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS to date.1a

According to the World Health Organization 2016 report, being overweight or obese is strongly linked to diabetes. In 2014, more than 1 in 3 adults were overweight and more than 1 in 10 were obese4 and it is paramount that the education around diabetes and its direct link to obesity is spread globally. Africa as it stands, has recorded 0.23 million deaths due to diabetes on people who were below the age of 60 in 2017 alone.2e

The severity of diabetes is widespread across the globe with millions of people losing their lives to the current diabetes pandemic with one dying from the disease every eight seconds that passes.2f

Type 1 and Type 2

There are two main types of diabetes, namely Type 1 and Type 2 which are different conditions, both serious but also very manageable. Type 1 diabetes is a condition characterised by high blood sugar levels. Your body stops making the insulin that would normally control your blood glucose levels and is a life-long condition that has a relatively quick onset, and is usually diagnosed in childhood.5 Type 2 diabetes is similarly characterised by high blood sugar levels but usually starts later in life, typically around middle age or older, and progresses gradually over time.6

The myths surrounding diabetes might prove to be a challenge if left unaddressed, because Type 2 diabetes not only affects older adults, but is now increasingly seen in children, adolescents and young adults due to rising levels of obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet.2h

It is important that people understand the importance of diabetes management and screening because if left untreated or managed poorly, the high levels of blood glucose associated with diabetes can slowly damage both the fine nerves and the small and large blood vessels in the body, resulting in future complications.7

Screening is imperative

It is also concerning that approximately 200 million people do not even know that they have diabetes2i and South Africans are urged to know their risk and get tested by a healthcare professional. Living with diabetes is not a death sentence; one can lead a full and active life with diabetes when the disease is properly managed. Your diabetes care team – including your doctor, nurse, diabetes educator and dietician – can help develop a personalised diabetes care plan.8

Obesity together with poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle have become a big factor exacerbating the scourge of diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes which is primarily lifestyle related and can be avoided with the necessary healthy adjustments to one’s lifestyle.2j A recent study showed obesity rates among SA children have doubled in the last six years, while this took 13 years to happen in the US.9

A simple lifestyle change like taking a walk every day and eating healthier can assist in delaying the onset of Type 2 diabetes.2k It’s important for every South African to know their risk and take the necessary action to live a better life whether it’s preventative measures and/or management.


  1. Statistics South Africa: page 33. Last Accessed 03 October 2018
  2. Country summary table Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 112. International Diabetes Federation

2a. Country summary table Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 113. International Diabetes Federation

2b. Prevalence* of diabetes and IGT: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 41. International Diabetes Federation

2c Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 68. International Diabetes Federation

2d Africa: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 68. International Diabetes Federation

2e Proportion (%) of people who died from diabetes in 2017 before the age of 60 in IDF regions: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 49. International Diabetes Federation

2f Mortality: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 49. International Diabetes Federation

2h Type 2 diabetes: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 18. International Diabetes Federation

2i Undiagnosed Diabetes: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 47. International Diabetes Federation

2j Recommendations: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 99. International Diabetes Federation

2k Preventing diabetes: Nam Han Cho et al (2017), IDF Diabetes Atlas – page 22. International Diabetes Federation

  1. F. B. Hu et al., N. Engl. J. Med. 345, 790 (2001).
  2. World Health Organization. Global Report on Diabetes. 2016.
  3. Type 1: Last Accessed 31 October 2018
  4. Type 2: Last Accessed 31 October 2018
  5. Is diabetes serious? Last Accessed 03 October 2018
  6. Living with diabetes: Last Accessed 4 October 2018
  7. Obesity in young South Africans doubles in six years Last Accessed 02 November 2018

All the role players celebrate the building going blue.

Be fabulite this summer for World Diabetes Day 

With this year’s theme for World Diabetes Day being diabetes and the family, we, at Parmalat, make life a little easier with Parmalat Fabulite range of yoghurt so the whole family can enjoy.

Parmalat Fabulite is a delicious fat-free yoghurt with no added sugar. It’s ideal to include in your family’s meal plan as one of the suggested three daily servings of dairy adults should consume.

You don’t have to miss out on filling treats in your meal plan. With fewer kilojoules than regular yoghurt, Fabulite yoghurt is a guilt-free and delightful snack that can be enjoyed by health-conscious consumers.

Fabulite has been part of the Parmalat family, known for its focus on quality, since its launch almost 10 years ago (in 2008). We are very excited to be endorsed by the GI Foundation of South Africa (GIFSA) and Diabetes SA.

The Parmalat Fabulite range is available in 175g and 1kg packs (Fruit: Black Cherry and Strawberry, and Smooth: Plain and Vanilla). The 6x100g variety packs are available in the following variants: Fruit – Strawberry, Black Cherry and Kiwi, and Smooth – Grapefruit, Vanilla and Strawberry.


The 2017 statistics, from the International Diabetes Federation, the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control, paint a gloomy picture. Worldwide, there were 425 million adults with diabetes and it is estimated to be 629 million by 2045. 

For this reason, a smoothie made from the Parmalat Fabulite range is ideal for people living with diabetes, and is one step of managing your diabetes.

Fabulite Breakfast Smoothie

Start the day right with a special treat, packed full nutrients and good for your waistline.

½ cup Fabulite plain yoghurt
1 large frozen banana
6 large frozen strawberries
1 slice fresh ginger root
1 cup skim milk
¼ cup wheat germ

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.

Recipe tip

Wholegrains could be a great addition to a smoothie to make it crunchier and up the nutrition stakes. Just ensure that what you add contains no hidden sugars that will contribute to increased blood sugar. And always remember to control the serving size! 

You can consider using oats or bran when making a smoothie, but keep an eye on the product’s nutritional info, sugar and carbohydrate content; when added up it should all still be within your daily allowed totals.

Another option for a fabulous Fabulite smoothie is adding some fresh blueberries and sliced almonds to a tub of Fabulite yoghurt of your choice.

World Diabetes Day

Don’t forget to be Fabulite this summer for World Diabetes Day – 14 November! Parmalat Fabulite can be bought from any of the major retailers.

For more information please visits

Latest news from our branches


Happy 90thbirthday Jean

At our September Diabetes Wellness meeting, held in the Caritas Service Centre, we celebrated the 90th birthday of Jean Cawood.

She regularly attends our monthly meetings even during the cold winter months. Jean brought the most delicious diabetes-friendly homemade muffins for us to enjoy with our coffee and tea after the meeting.

Candice Kemp from Virgin Active was our guest speaker and Jean participated in all the weird and wonderful exercises that Candice demonstrated. Jean is currently in England visiting some of her family.

Jump for diabetes 

Our second annual Jump for Diabetes was held, on Sunday 28 October 2018, at the Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park, Port Elizabeth.

Paula Thom, convener of the DSA Young Guns, hosted this fun-filled afternoon with Kureshin Reddy, owner of Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park.

While the youngsters enjoyed jumping, they also helped raise awareness of diabetes and some much-needed funds.

Afro-soul artist, Candy Tsamandebele, speaks about her diabetes

Candy Tsamandebele, South African award-winning afro-soul artist and songwriter, tells us how she lives with Type 2 diabetes.

Sekedi Candy Mokwena (48), better known as Candy Tsamandebele, lives in Kempton Park. She is a mother of two sons and is a grandmother to a beautiful eight-year-old girl, Sehlora.

Shortly after Candy’s first-born son, Phetole, passed away, in 2011, in a car accident and due to the trauma and stress of his passing, Candy was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At the time, she didn’t know what the symptoms of diabetes were but rather just knew of the disease itself. She was prescribed diaglucide, gliclazide, and metformin.

Since being diagnosed Candy has changed her lifestyle. “I had to have a fulfilling life. I eat healthily and exercise a lot – off and on stage. My mother has made it her mission to remind me all the time to eat healthy food, like morogo (African spinach). We grew up eating this. When my youngest son cooks, he prepares food that he knows is healthy. In fact, the entire family has adopted my way of eating,” she says.

When asked how she manages her career and diabetes, she responds, “It takes some doing. However, I have employed some good mechanisms to help me. The people I work with know of my situation. They have made it their business to make sure I eat on time and take my meds when on the road. I have a personal support group, and have numerous reminders in the house to notify me of my doctor’s appointment amongst other things.

Candy believes that South Africans are not aware of the dangers of diabetes. “Not like they know the dangers of diseases like HIV/AIDS. They fear HIV/AIDS far more than diabetes as they believe it more deadly and life-threatening. This is caused by the general information and awareness as far as these diseases are concerned. Diabetes has generally not received as much attention, and information around it has not yet reached the person on the ground fully. People only hear or care about it when its directly or indirectly affecting them.

Candy will be releasing her third studio album later this month. Catch her performing at Metro FM Heatwave, in Polokwane, on the 24th November; Mapungubwe Music Festival, in Polokwane, on the 15th December; the Nubian Music Festival on the 16th December; and the 7th BGT Bolobedu Get Together, in Limpopo, on the 26th December.


Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on [email protected]

In sickness and in health – Graham and Yolandi

We speak to married couple, Graham and Yolandi Chamberlain, about how diabetes works in their relationship and why they chose a cheese wheel as their wedding cake.

Graham (33) and Yolandi (36) live in Pretoria, Gauteng. Graham and Yolandi have been dating since 2016 and got married in August 2018.

Graham Chamberlain

How did your family support you once you were diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in October 2001, at the age of 16. My mother is a qualified nurse and took my diagnosis very serious. She cooked every meal with my illness in mind. It was a learning experience for my whole family and together as time went by, we learnt what my body required and how we would accommodate and adapt to my specific needs.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had the privilege of such an amazing and supportive family, who has been there for me day and night in this challenging journey as a Type 1 diabetic. Diabetes can have a serious impact on your emotions. Being diagnosed in my teenage years while enduring puberty must have played some role in my parents’ grey hair.

Ilze, my sister, has been practising karate with me since I was six. After my diagnosis, she always made sure that I had some sort of sugar with me in case of a hypoglycaemic incident.

Do you agree with the International Diabetes Federation Word Diabetes Day Theme “Diabetes concerns every family”?

Yes, most definitely! Diabetes is on such an incline and according to global diabetes statistics, 415 million adults have diabetes. That means 1 in every 11 adults has diabetes. Therefore, creating awareness and support groups for families who are affected by this illness is essential. I would love to get involved with such programmes which educate families on diabetes. Because without my family’s support, my diabetic journey would have been a lot more challenging.

How has Yolandi supported you?

From day one Yolandi has been by my side, supporting me in this daily and ever-changing illness. Her ability to understand my actions and reactions due to my blood glucose either being high or low is what really impresses me.

I know how difficult I can become if my blood glucose is high or low and this obviously has an influence on our relationship. But the fact that she can recognise and distinguish between me being irrational and me just being difficult and argumentative, keeps our relationship in balance.

Prior to me being on the insulin pump, I struggled a lot with hypoglycaemia in the evening or early morning hours, especially after karate. Yolandi insisted that I wake her up when my blood glucose level dropped, no matter what the time might be. She would get out of bed, fetch the closest form of glucose and would stay awake until my glucose level recovered.

Does Yolandi’s support help the management of your diabetes?

I often joke with Yolandi and tell her that she is the diabetes police, because she questions my decisions in a firm, yet caring and subtle way. Whenever I attempt an extra helping of potatoes or garlic bread, she would ask, “What is your blood glucose level and did you inject for that extra helping?” All this aids me in being more mindful of what I consume and helps me manage my blood glucose level that much better.

You recently changed to a Medtronic MiniMed 640G insulin pump and use Humalog insulin. Has this change been a positive one?

The change to my Medtronic 640G insulin pump has been a life-changing experience for me and my family. For years, I have been reluctant and very hesitant in the thought of having an insulin pump constantly attached to my body. Purely because I did not want to feel like a robot. I finally decided to follow Yolandi and my mother’s request to give this option a chance.

I really struggled to manage my blood glucose levels throughout the day. Work stress, karate training and daily challenges really got to me, which caused my HBA1C count to be at 12,7.

The 15th February this year, marked my first day of being on the insulin pump. It was not even a week later, when I started to feel and see the difference in my energy levels, my mood and overall well-being. In July, just six months later my HBA1C level dropped to 7,6. This is remarkable because for the first time in 17 years my count was below 8.

Tell us more about your hobbies – karate and skateboarding.

I have been skateboarding for the past 19 years but it’s purely just for fun. My talent, however, lies in karate. I started at the age of 6. I’m an instructor at the Griffins Karate Club, in Pretoria, which is affiliated to the South African Shotokan Karate Academy.

I have competed in four World Championships and recently was selected after competing in the trials for the World Championship in Slovakia next year. Karate is my passion and I take pride in having diabetes and competing on an international level.

Yolandi Chamberlain

When you started dating Graham and heard he had diabetes, were you scared?

Yes, of course I was scared. My knowledge then of any type of diabetes was none. In fact, all I knew was that Graham wasn’t allowed to eat any sugar. I had no idea that there was so much more to diabetes. I had to learn a lot as it is not just about sugar. All food and beverages had to be considered before consuming it.

I was scared that I would lose focus and start to panic or I would forget to take his blood glucose levels beforehand and inject the wrong quantity into him. Then I would be the one killing him and not diabetes.

As a partner, do you feel a responsibility to ensure Graham is managing his diabetes well?

No, I don’t feel responsible for it at all. Graham has been a diabetic for so long and he knows exactly what to do. I feel my responsibility is to help him when he can’t help himself. As his partner, I feel that I must know all about diabetes. Just in case he needs my help, I must know what to do.

You decided to have a cheese wheel rather than a traditional cake at your wedding. Explain the thinking behind this.

I felt it was unreasonable to have a traditional sweet cake when Graham is not allowed to eat it. After all it was his wedding as well. So, I came up with the idea and made the ‘cake-cutting’ part of the canapés at the reception.

What is your worst fear with Graham having diabetes?

I am afraid that the day will come when he loses his vision or some of his organs. I am afraid of losing him in at an early age.

How has Graham’s diabetes changed your life? 

In the beginning of our relationship, there was much to learn. Not only about food and beverages. I had to learn to have patience when Graham’s blood glucose was high and he felt irritated. I had to learn to give him some time for the insulin to take effect. I had to learn that when we go out, or go camping, it’s not as easy as packing and jumping into the car. Preparation for Graham needs to be done. We must keep his insulin cold all the time and it is essential for him to have enough Coke or any type of glucose.

But as you start knowing diabetes and your partner, it starts getting easier each day. Diabetes doesn’t have to come between people in a relationship. It made me a better person and brought me a lot closer to Graham.

Have you seen a change in Graham since he is using the pump?

From the time Graham got his insulin pump, our life has changed drastically and all for the best. He is feeling more constant and happier than before and I could see the difference in him almost immediately. I am so very grateful for the insulin pump and the change it brought to his health.


Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on [email protected]

Signs and symptoms of low glucose levels

Four people living with diabetes tells Barbara Chinyerere what they experience during hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels).

What brings blood glucose levels down?

Before I go to what a person living with diabetes feels when they have low blood glucose levels. Let me just indicate what brings their blood glucose levels down.

  • As their day goes by with workload, losing track of time could result in not eating their in-between snack. A simple thing as not snacking could just dip blood glucose levels.
  • A little more insulin which does not balance with the meal eaten could decrease blood glucose levels.
  • Exercise decrease blood glucose levels.
  • A state of shock brings blood glucose levels down.

Different people experience different symptoms

This is not a one size fit all situation. Different people feel different symptoms. Some can see them coming and can feel their lows. Others could be too young to recognise the feelings, but with time they will get to know them. Note: hunger is not one of the signs mentioned with any of the people interviewed.

One-on-one conversations to get a clear view

An 8-year-old, who has had diabetes for four years, is not able to tell when he has low blood glucose levels. Though the warning signs are very visible to the mother. She explainis, “From a very chatty, energetic busybody, he gets sleepy, which does not happen when he has normal glucose levels. Especially, during the day, he becomes quiet and next thing he is fast asleep.

On a bad day, he gets disorientated and doesn’t know whether its day or night. On checking his levels, he had a dip of 2.4mmol/L. Once he passed out and could only be woken up with glycogen. On this occasion, he had been exercising the whole afternoon and passed out into his PT teacher’s arms.

A 48-year-old male said the minute he gets dizzy, it’s a sign for him to go eat something. This happens any time of the day, especially when he has missed a meal. Eating meals and snacks is his priority.

A 60-year-old female, who’s been diabetic for 22 years, gets extremely sweaty, starts to shake and yawns. Her first low, she experienced blurry vision and had tremors in her hands.

A 58-year-old nurse said she never experienced lows anymore. She has mastered eating regular meals and snacks.

Keeping regular meals, and snacks could limit the chances of hypoglycemia, so snack on.


Barbara Chinyerere

Barbara Chinyere is a mother of two sons. Her youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. She says it has been a roller coaster ride but she finds courage because of her son’s strength.

How is diabetes a family affair?

There is a saying, “When one person feels better, the whole family situation improves”, Noy Pullen explains why this is true.

Some years ago, I interviewed Credo Mutwa, the renowned traditional practitioner. He told me that when he was newly qualified, diabetes was hardly ever diagnosed among his patients. He said with the continuing growth of what he called American cold drinks and the American lifestyle, he noticed a marked increase in diagnosis of diabetes. 

When I first started writing for Diabetes Focus, in 1996, I would ask any random group of people in any social setting how many of them had diabetes in the family. If two people put up their hands, it was unusual. During the many years we have run Diabetes South Africa’s Agents for Change courses with healthcare providers and patients, I continued to ask this question. Presently there is always more than 80% of the group raising their hands.

How does diabetes affect you?

Type 3 diabetes is a term that has been used colloquially (even though there is a medical definition for it) in the diabetes community to include all those who do not have diabetes themselves, but are living with someone who has diabetes and are affected by the condition. It has become clear that diabetes affects more than 80% of our population. Everyone’s diabetes affects family, friends, colleagues, in fact the whole community. Diabetes affects us all. 

Challenges to lifestyle changes 

Participants who attend the first Agents for Change module become motivated to change something in their life. Most of them have families to consider. Many of them would also like their families to change. For example, habits that have led to obesity amongst family members, or perhaps an inactive lifestyle. Questions are asked – How does one change the habits of others? Is it possible? 

When the participants return for the follow-up module three months later, they fill in questionnaires which indicate a mixture of success stories and challenges. Some of them managed their goals, others found it difficult to change their own habits. While others met with resistance from the family, who, for example, did not want to eat more vegetables, or give up unhealthy options. Some participants’ lives are dependent on their families who are not prepared to make special dishes for them.  

Some risk factors to developing diabetes (which affects all family members eventually):

Age – over forty

Central obesity – waist circumference of over 88 for women and over 102 for men 

Family history – heredity factors

Alcohol consumption


Side effects of certain medication e.g. steroids, statins and others

Inactive lifestyle

Consumption of high carbohydrates meals and fast foods

Stress levels

High blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Lifestyle changes will alter this picture. Yet this knowledge is clearly not enough to facilitate these changes. None of this information is new. We hear it on the radio, we see it on screen. How can we help change come about? Do we have to get diabetes before we make changes? 

The 5 As

These are based on a counselling style called Brief Behaviour Change Counselling1.

  • Ask about individual risk situations in the family; for a family chat and request permission to speak about your concerns.

  • Alert the person to what your concerns are, and add any information that you have agreed to talk about. Ask for support for any change that comes from the discussion.

  • Assess the relevance of the situation to others in the family – risk factors, possible outcomes. Determine the readiness of each member of the family to change.

  • Assist in making plans for agreed changes, behavioural skills and confidence to succeed e.g. graphs, charts, incentives.

  • Arrange for agreed appointments e.g. with the gym or dietitian, etc.; follow-up family check-ins, community based resources.



Please contact Noy Pullen if you would like more information: [email protected] or 072 258 7132.



Potatoes – good for heart health

We look at the nutritional facts and health benefits of potatoes, especially for heart health, and why the Heart and Stroke Foundation has endorsed boiled potatoes with the skin on.

“You are what you eat” – this old saying is something to reflect on, especially when heart health is concerned. It is well-recognised that making informed choices about what we eat has a profound impact on our general physical and mental well-being, including the health of our cardiovascular system. What’s less well-known is the contribution that potatoes can make to a heart-friendly diet. 

South African statistics

At the outset, it’s worth reminding ourselves just how serious the problem is in our country. The sad fact is that South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension and strokes in the world. 

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa’s website provides these sobering statistics: 225 South Africans are killed by heart disease every day, 45% of adults in South Africa have high blood pressure, and 10 South Africans suffer a stroke every hour. 

But the good news is that 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented, which takes us back to the importance of a heart-healthy diet. 

Endorsement of boiled potatoes

The Heart and Stroke Foundation has endorsed boiled potatoes as a heart-healthy food, provided it’s boiled and served with its skin on. This is an important qualification because one of the characteristics of the potato is that it is so versatile; it can be cooked in many ways, and the cooking method has a huge impact on its healthiness. 

Health benefits of potatoes

One of the main reasons a potato a day keeps your heart happy is its high potassium content. A 150-gram serving of boiled potato will provide 20% of the recommended daily allowance of potassium. Potassium helps maintain a proper fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, transmit nerve impulses and support muscle function, including the heart muscle. 

Aside from its role in regulating blood pressure, and thus in reducing the risk of hypertension, potassium also blunts the effect of sodium on blood pressure. High sodium consumption—and that’s a South African fault—is a major contributor to hypertension. 

Potatoes are also rich in vitamins C and B6, copper and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre is another secret weapon in the fight against heart disease. It binds with blood cholesterol, so it is excreted safely, and doesn’t build up in the blood, thus descrease the risk of heart attack. 

Because potatoes are a source of fibre, they are bulkier than many other foods. This is important because a bulky meal is more satisfying than a light meal, even if they have the same calorific value. That’s because the more bulk there is in your stomach, the more stimulated the vagus nerve is. This nerve is responsible for transmitting the full feeling to the brain. And the fuller you feel for longer, the less likely you are to be overweight. And as we all know; extra weight is a major strain on the heart. 

Claire Jusling Strydom, a registered dietitian, says that the potato’s high potassium content, its fibre and its other important minerals make it an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. “Potatoes are cheap, they make you feel full and they promote a healthy body, including a healthy heart. That makes them a healthy and cost-effective alternative for other forms of refined starch,” she says. “But everything depends on how you cook them, and what else you put on the plate.”

Five ways potatoes improve heart health

  1. The potato’s fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health.
  2. Potatoes contain more potassium than any other vegetables. Potassium plays a crucial role in normal heartbeat rhythm, smooth muscle contraction, blood pressure control, and nervous system and heart function.
  3. Potatoes contain significant amounts of fibre. Fibre helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
  4. Some evidence suggests that potatoes might help reduce inflammation and constipation. Although it is not proven that inflammation causes cardiovascular disease, inflammation is common for heart disease and stroke patients and is thought to be a sign or atherogenic response.
  5. Potatoes contain several minerals and plant compounds that may help lower blood pressure. Low blood pressure that causes an inadequate flow of blood to the body’s organs can cause strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure.

“The shocking statistics that can be decreased if we are mindful of our health are a testament that something needs to be done. We work towards the prevention of heart disease on the one hand and suggesting health and nutritious food options on the other, further driving conversation around the role potatoes play in heart health.” – says, Dr Bianca van der Westhuizen, Nutrition Science Manager at the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa. “Further to this, we have started a drive through which we are aiming to achieve a 25% Rheumatic Heart Disease reduction in those under the age of 25 years by 2025.”

About Potatoes South Africa
Potatoes South Africa is a non-profit company (NPC) that was established to serve, protect and promote the interest of all potato producers in South Africa. The vision of Potatoes South Africa is to play a leadership role in sustainable potato production in South Africa. Potatoes South Africa is an industry organisation that supports the potato producers (ware, seed potatoes and processing) within each region in South Africa to continuously perform optimally by: Continuously striving towards free market principles, Managing user-orientated research, Providing all role players with strategic industry information, Ensuring that all consumers have continuous access to quality products, Developing and expanding the local and foreign potato markets, and Investing in transformation in the industry through providing support to black potato producers to become commercial, providing support to communities to produce potatoes for food security purposes and educational initiatives.

Managing your diabetes at your matric dance

One of the biggest highlights of the Grade 12 year is the matric dance. Finding the perfect dress and splurging out on nails, hair and make-up and celebrating the last year of high school. Shelly Schutte, a Type 1 diabetes patient, tells us how she made the most of hers.

Shelly Schutte (28) lives in Fish Hoek and has had Type 1 diabetes for 18 years.

My matric dance

Whether you have diabetes or not, your matric dance is the perfect opportunity to treat yo-self. I matriculated almost 10 years ago now and overall, my matric dance is a night I remember with a great deal of fondness.

It took place at the Kelvin Grove Ballroom, in Cape Town, which is a stunning location. During the run-up to the event, we went to ballroom dance classes in the school sports hall. We had great fun attempting the Boogie to the dulcet tones of Katy Perry.

After the dance, we headed out to the club Velvet, where the “official after-party” was being held. It was honestly such a palaver at first. The club was too full and we ended up waiting on the pavement for almost half an hour. Not the glamorous night of dancing and partying we had been imagining!

Luckily, but somewhat embarrassingly, a friend’s dad, who had been our transport eventually came to the rescue. He had some words with the bouncer and got us in.

Although the after-party has much hype in the run-up to the event, it paled in comparison to the brilliant fun that was the dance itself. We happily headed home a little after 3am.

Six am saw us at the local beach for the traditional matric breakfast, with many pale-skinned, dark-eyed students wandering into the restaurant at various times. Some of whom had apparently slept on the beach itself.

How to enjoy your matric dance

As a Type 1 diabetic, events like a matric dance can often come with an extra layer of stress. I often wish I could just have a diabetes timeout every now and then. A chance to a have an evening completely free from the responsibility that is being your own pancreas.

Alas, science has yet to gift us with a cure or a timeout card. However, it is completely possible for you, as a diabetic, to have a matric dance experience that is as wonderful and carefree as every other person in the grade. To this end, I offer a few pieces of advice:

  1. Be safe: face your number

We have a wonderful saying at the DSA diabetes camps: face your number. No matter how high or low your glucose level is. Once you know, you can fix it. This is especially the case on nights like the matric dance when it’s tempting to ignore the fact that you have diabetes. Test regularly throughout the evening.

Whenever I go out and know I will be moving from place to place or drinking alcohol, I set alarms on my phone to check my blood glucose or scan my Freestyle Libre every hour. Time flies by when you’re having fun and especially if you are dancing a lot, but remember dancing can make your blood glucose drop very rapidly.

Nothing is more of a mood-killer than crying in the bathroom because you’re recovering from a low. Test yourself so you can prevent extreme highs and lows throughout the evening and the associated complications.

  1. Appoint a dia-buddy

This is especially important if you are planning to drink alcohol. It is essential that you have a ‘dia-buddy’ – a close friend who knows exactly what to do if you experience a low or high. This person should also have your ICE details, in case you need medical help.

  1. Maintain your normal eating patterns on the night

Keeping diabetes under control is all about routine and predictability. Although the temptation to let loose for a night is probably strong, you will enjoy yourself way more if your blood glucose is not yo-yoing. Keep to your normal eating patterns, count your carbs and be careful with your insulin doses.

  1. Maintain healthy exercise and eating routines in the months before the dance

I have always struggled to keep my BMI in the normal range. Whereas my non-diabetic friends and family members seem to be able to be able to eat whatever they want. I simply was not gifted with a similar metabolism.

In the months before my dance, I was constantly fighting the urge to crash diet to lose those extra 3kg. If there’s anything I’ve learned since then, it’s that a steady routine of exercise and a predictable diet is the biggest gift you can give yourself as a T1 diabetic.

The incredible, stabilising after-effects of a workout at the gym can last for more than 24 hours, which can really transform my whole day into a calmer experience. Also, somehow, a salad always tastes better when I’m eating it after a workout. Exercise at least three times a week, adopt a carb-controlled diet and your body will look after itself in so many ways.

  1. Enjoy yourself

Most of all, you must enjoy yourself! Make beautiful memories and always remember that your diabetes does not define you…but you are braver, stronger and more brilliant because of it.


Shelly Schutte is the youth representative on the board of Diabetes South Africa. She loves spreading awareness and showing the world that she lives an amazing life with diabetes She is currently the Head of Department at a school for children with learning barriers.