Saudis move to fight diabetes, the silent killer

Photo/Shutterstock
Short Url
Updated 09 November 2020

Saudis move to fight diabetes, the silent killer

  • Doctors back call by sports chiefs for more exercise to combat ‘silent killer’ that affects 4 million adult Saudis
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle helps prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension

JEDDAH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) is raising awareness and promoting a health program ahead of World Diabetes day on Nov. 14.
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases related to aging — significant as Saudi Arabia’s adult population is rising above 23 million. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the prevalence of diabetes in adults is 18.3 percent (more than 4 million cases), related to lifestyle issues such as lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet and obesity.
According to a WHO report, Saudi Arabia is ranked the second highest in the Middle East and seventh in the world for the rate of diabetes.
Rawan Al-Daur, a diabetic educator in Riyadh, stressed the importance of physical activity to combat type 2 diabetes. “It’s important to have campaigns to raise awareness about diabetes, because physical activity is one of the most important things to reduce the risk of diabetes type 2,” Al-Daur told Arab News.
She said diabetes was not correlated to a specific age group, and could affect anyone at any age according to factors such as genetics and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Al-Daur highlighted that the percentage of diabetes in Saudi Arabia is high and urged people in the Kingdom to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s still a large number because of the lifestyle of people in the Kingdom. They should increase their physical activities, and eat healthy food at proper times, drink a lot of water and eat less sugars and unhealthy forms of carbohydrates,” she said.
“Adopting a healthier lifestyle helps prevent such diseases as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia because these three diseases are the root cause of other chronic diseases,” she added.
Socioeconomic changes in the Kingdom — growth and prosperity — have brought changes in lifestyle, most notably in eating habits and physical activity.
In a move to combat the trend and with an aim to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) launched the “Step Together” program on Nov. 4, which ends on Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day. It has called on people of all ages and abilities to unite in the name of health.
The program was launched in cooperation with the Royal Danish Embassy in the Kingdom and Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational health care company, which aims to find better therapies for people living with diabetes and other chronic diseases. Adults are challenged to walk or run 21.1 km, while children are challenged to walk or run 14 km.
“Over the course of the 11 days, and especially on November 14, we want to see our healthy active community head out. Bringing all of your family members to walk or run on World Diabetes Day,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, president of SFA.
Focusing on World Diabetes Day, the third Step Together is supported by the Ministry of Sports and the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.
SFA was established to promote well-being and encourage a healthy lifestyle in people across the Kingdom. The third Step Together event is staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plans.


Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

Nutrition is the most important part when it comes to bodybuilding, then comes type of exercise, and good rest. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2020

Saudi vegan bodybuilder slams diet myths

  • Ali Al-Salam, who stopped consuming animal products in 2017, says certain steps must be completed to have an athletic body

JEDDAH: The vegan diet has risen in popularity in Saudi Arabia in recent years and has been a constant topic of debate among Saudis, attracting the interest of many, including athletes.

Ongoing debates about whether the vegan diet is sufficient for normal people, let alone bodybuilders, abound, but one Saudi is answering them physically.
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.
Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease, but other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.
Speaking to Arab News, 33-year-old Saudi vegan bodybuilder, Ali Al-Salam, who first started his vegan diet three years ago when he was suffering from high blood pressure, highlighted that the consumption of animal products is a deep rooted idea among bodybuilders and athletes.
“We always hear that in order to build muscle, we must consume animal products. In some parts of the world, there are people who can only have a small amount of animal products yet they live their lives healthily and comfortably and are not suffering from malnutrition — on the contrary, they have a lower level of chronic illnesses.”

When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.

Ali Al-Salam, Saudi vegan bodybuilder

He said it also opened his eyes to what goes on in the dairy and meat industry; he began researching in 2016 and decided to become vegan in 2017.
“I was just like every other athlete, I used to consume a high amounts of protein. I remember in the last days before turning vegan, I used to have 10 egg whites and a piece of steak for breakfast to fulfil my protein needs. This made me think, ‘is this the only way to consume protein?’ And from then on, I started researching and got introduced to the vegan diet at a larger scale,” he said.
“When I consumed meat and animal products, I suffered from high blood pressure; it was 190 over 110, and I wasn’t even 30 yet. Two weeks into the vegan diet, it went down to 150. The vegan diet did what couldn’t be done with medications for me.”
He explained that bodybuilding does not solely rely on protein, and that there are steps that must be completed in order to reach an athletic body. Nutrition is the most important part, then comes type of exercise, and good rest.
“When we talk about good nutrition, it does not just rely on protein. Yes, it is important, but the amount of calories in general is more important,” he said.
“Let’s say you needed 200 grams of protein, does that mean if you consumed 200 grams of it, you would gain muscle? No. You need all the basic nutrients to reach a certain amount of calories in general,” he added.
He highlighted that as soon as people register for gym memberships, they immediately look for supplements because they think they cannot reach the needed amount of protein.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products from diets, clothing or any other purposes.

• Over the years, a number of studies have found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease.

• But other studies have also placed them at a higher risk of stroke, possibly due to the lack of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that reduces the risk of anemia and neurological diseases.

• Vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants.

• Animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.

“I’m talking about non-vegans here too, where their protein intake is already high. Marketing plays a big role here. People link protein to animal products because our society grew up with this idea as well.
“Can a vegan build muscle? Yes, when they eat right, exercise correctly and rest well. The misconception about protein stems from amino acids. People think vegan food lacks amino acids, and only animal products are full of them and that is far from the truth,” he added.
When comparing vegan athletes to regular athletes, he said vegan athletes have more endurance, strength and faster muscle recovery, because the vegan diet is rich in antioxidants which helps greatly in recovery, and because “animal products sometimes cause inflammation, that your body needs to recover from in the first place.”