Diabetes is heading to be the leading cause of death in Mzansi.

Unless some drastic action is taken now, diabetes will overtake TB by 2040, according to the recent study by medical journal, The Lancet.

Mbali Mapholi, a registered dietitian, has the following blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol level management advice.

Eat healthier carbohydrates

Be aware of what food has carbohydrates and how much you eat in a portion. Whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat and whole oats, fruit, vegetables, chickpeas, beans and lentils are some of the healthier sources of carbohydrates.

Eat less salt

Eating lots of salt increases blood pressure, which increases risk of heart disease and strokes. And diabetes increases these risks even more.

Cooking your own food helps you control how much salt you are eating. You can also swap salt for other herbs and spices to add that extra flavour.

Eat more vegetables and fruit

Veggies and fruit supply the vitamins, minerals and fibre your body needs.

Eat less meat

We eat far too much red and processed meat. Replace meat in some meals with beans, peas and lentils. They are high in fibre and do not affect your blood glucose levels too much and have plenty of protein to make you feel full.

Eat healthier fats

Fats provide the energy we need, but different fats affect our health in different ways.

If you are deciding which fat you should eat, look for food with unsaturated fat, omega 3 and 6 and monounsaturated fats – such as margarine.

Eat healthier snacks

If you want a snack, choose unsweetened yoghurts, unsalted nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables instead of crisps, chips, biscuits and chocolates. But watch your portions still – it’ll help you keep an eye on your weight.

Reduce alcohol consumption

If you take insulin or other diabetes medication, do NOT to drink on an empty stomach. If you do, the alcohol can trigger hypoglycaemia. This is a dangerous drop in blood sugar.

Also called “the hypos” by diabetics, it is what happens when their eating is not matched with their physical activity.

Exercise

Regular exercise is an excellent and essential part of diabetes management and it also reduces your risk of heart disease, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.