Leon exercises and eats healthy to keep diabetes at bay
Leon Campher is proof that early detection and active lifestyle changes can prevent the onset of diabetes. After being diagnosed with prediabetes, he changed his diet and started exercising daily to reverse the condition.
Leon Campher (74) was shocked when, in December 2021, his doctor told him that he was prediabetic.
"I went to our family doctor because my nose was bleeding profusely. He was very concerned because my blood pressure was sky high and I'd never had high blood pressure before," says Leon. "I went for blood tests which showed my blood sugar levels were high."
"My doctor doesn't mince his words. He told me, 'Leon, you've stopped exercising. You are eating badly. You are prediabetic and if you carry on like this you will become a type 2 diabetic, which means you'll have to use insulin injections for the rest of your life. You might even have a stroke.'" "That gave me the fright of my life!"
"The good news is that blood tests showed that there was no damage to my kidneys and liver, which was a relief."
- According to the Mayo Clinic, prediabetes is when you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, but it's not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods, daily physical activity and staying at a healthy weight, can help to bring the blood sugar level back to normal and prevent progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
Leon changes his lifestyle
"My doctor encouraged me to make lifestyle changes, which I did immediately. I've cut all carbohydrates like bread, pasta and potato out of my diet. I now eat more green vegetables, and proteins such as cheese, and grilled chicken and fish with no basting. I also stay away from alcohol and fizzy drinks. I had to prick my finger to test my blood sugar levels every evening before and after dinner. He also told me to exercise, so I've been going for a walk every day."
"I stuck religiously to this new way of eating and exercising. Blood tests in June showed that I had reversed my prediabetic condition, which my doctor says is remarkable."
"The truth is, I don't miss those foods at all"
"I really thought it would be difficult to change my diet. I love sweets and bread. But the truth is, I don't miss those foods at all. My wife has been incredibly supportive and helps to make sure that I'm eating the right foods."
"I walk every evening and I've noticed that I'm now doing the route I walk 10 minutes faster than when I first started walking it. Since December, I've lost 18 kg and gone from wearing size XL to size small."
"I feel really great!"
"It's not necessary for me to take medicine"
"My doctor said I can consider myself to be 'in remission'. Because I was able to control my blood sugar levels by changing my lifestyle, he said that it's not necessary for me to take medicine. And I don't have to prick my finger anymore to test my blood sugar level."
"He also said I can treat myself to a glass of wine every now and then. My wife and I love fine dining. So a few times a year, when we travel, we will enjoy fine dining and I will have a glass of wine with dinner. I know that I can now afford to have a bit of wine because I'm so good about what I eat and drink the rest of the time."
"I am a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member and since my doctor diagnosed me as prediabetic, I've been receiving motivational messages from the medical scheme, telling me to 'stick to it' and so on. I love Discovery Health and the support I receive from the Scheme." "I am due to see my doctor again in December for a follow-up."
Leon motivates others to make healthier lifestyle choices
Leon is now using his experience to motivate his friends to live healthier lifestyles. "Initially, I didn't think that the lifestyle changes would make such a big difference, but I'm now a believer!" "I've told them that it's not just about being on a diet or losing weight. If you're serious about keeping healthy in the long term, you need to change your lifestyle. You're not sacrificing anything by not eating a whole bunch of sweets or sandwiches. There are still many great things you can eat that won't affect you negatively."
"I really want to provide motivation for people that lifestyle changes are possible!"
- Discovery Health members have access to essential screening and prevention benefits to check for various chronic conditions, including diabetes. Discovery Health pays for your Health Check from your Screening and Prevention Benefit. This means that it won't affect your day-to-day benefits. Vitality members can get points for doing a Health Check.
- The Discovery Diabetes Care Programme, together with your Premier Plus GP, will help you actively manage your diabetes. The programme gives you access to various tools to monitor and manage your condition and ensures you get high quality coordinated healthcare.
If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to manage the condition well. You need support to do this. Being surrounded by the right healthcare team makes diabetes management and care far simpler for you and far more effective overall - ensuring your best quality of life.
Merlin Naidoo has been a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member for the past nine years. All was going well until 2014, when he learned that he had developed a chronic condition: type 2 diabetes.
Ensuring good quality of life for people who live with diabetes is key for general practitioner (GP) Dr Christel Olivier. She works towards this goal with the support of the Diabetes Care Programme and the team of health professionals she works with at her practice.