Currently, India is home to nearly 62 million diabetics. No longer, diabetes is associated with higher income group, as more and more people from lower and middle-income background are suffering from type 2 diabetes. Colloquially known as ‘sugar’ or ‘high sugar’ uncontrolled diabetes is a multi-system disorder that affects the health of your heart, eyes and kidneys.
WHAT CAUSES DIABETES
In the human body carbs is broken down into sugar or glucose post digestion. The sugar is the fuel for the cells and the insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas holds the key that opens the cells and allows sugar in the blood stream to enter inside the cells. In the patients of diabetes the mechanism of insulin gets hampered. Either the pancreas stops making insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the cells become resistant to it (type 2 diabetes). As a result, the cells do not get their fuel (sugar: the simplified form of carb) and there is sugar overload in the blood, which releases through urine. The real diabetes epidemic comes from type 2 diabetes. One of the primary, causes of diabetes in Indians is sedentary lifestyle. The other reasons for diabetes are diet and the Indian gene pool.
Initially, the symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, dry mouth, frequent urination and increased hunger especially after eating. The other symptoms are unexplained weight loss, even after eating well and hunger, blurred vision and headaches. More often than not, people choose to ignore initial signs of diabetes. Undiagnosed diabetes remains a bigger threat. Nearly, 60 percent people in India suffer from undiagnosed diabetes that leads to serious health complications, like heart disease, kidney and eye disorders.
Long-term complications include heart attacks, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage and foot infections that lead to amputation of limbs, dental damage, and so on. Around the world, a lower limb is lost to diabetes every 30 seconds. Diabetes is the most important risk factor for heart disease. Many of these complications do not produce any symptom in the early stage and most can be prevented with a combination of regular medical care and blood glucose monitoring. User-friendly blood glucometers that monitor blood glucose levels at home can indicate how well diabetes is controlled and serves as a guide to adjusting therapy
Diabetes is a lifestyle disease and you have to learn to live with it. Though initially you may feel angry or overwhelmed, you a plan to manage diabetes with few essential steps will make it easier for you to eat well and stay active. Diet and exercise are the two cornerstones of managing diabetes.
1. Increase your level of physical activity. Diabetics need to keep their weight in check. Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes for five times a week or 150 minutes per week. To increase your insulin sensitivity, moderate exercise is better than no exercise, but intense exercise is even better. Therefore, it makes sense to enroll in a class of aerobics, Zumba dance. When you exercise intensely, your body uses more glycogen, the stored form of glucose. To replace those stores, glucose is pulled from the bloodstream.
2. Make intelligent food choices. Choose foods that are lower in fat, trans fat and calories. Avoid sugary drinks. When eating a meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken without the skin, and one-quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Increasing fiber intake keeps your blood sugar stable. You should add leafy greens to your dough and substitute daliya (roasted wheat flakes) with cereal to get more fiber in your diet. Rather than eating three large meals, eat six small meals.
A diabetic should avoid eating rice, potato, refined flour, deep fried foods and red meat. Very sweet fruits, like grapes and chickoo are off limits for a diabetic. Vegetables like palak (spinach), leafy greens, Dudhi (bottle gourd) are good for diabetics. If the diabetic suffers from kidney problems, they should have more of fresh vegetables and less of protein.
3. Keep a check on your stress level. Stress can raise your blood sugar. Learn ways to lower your stress. Try deep breathing, gardening, taking a walk, meditating, working on your hobby, or listening to your favorite music.
4. Go for regular tests. Diabetics need to meticulously control their blood pressure and blood sugar. They should be careful about the health of their feet and eyes. A regular urine test is required to detect the health of their kidneys.
AYURVEDA AND DIABETES
The first mention of diabetes dates back to probably 250 BC. Traditionally, Ayurveda has been recruiting herbs, like gurmar (Gymnema Sylvestre), bitter melon, apple cider vinegar, neem and jamun for managing diabetes. Today, clinical studies have validated the efficacy of these herbs and foods in lowering blood sugar and boosting insulin sensitivity.
Apple cider vinegar helps in managing blood sugar. The acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar interferes with the absorption of starch, but a 2004 study conducted at Arizona State University has found that subjects who drink 20 grams of apple cider vinegar, 40 grams of water and a teaspoon of saccharine (a natural sweetener, like stevia will be better) had 34 percent lower after-meal blood glucose. Therefore, begin drinking your apple cider vinegar tonic at bedtime and exercise a better control over your blood-glucose level.
Treatment of diabetes involves keeping a better control on your blood glucose level, keeping weight in check, eating right diet, taking prescription medicines and recruiting herbs, as and when needed. Most importantly, remain proactive, go for regular health checks and enjoy life.