Opinion: Ritu Srivastava
Diabetes can be managed. Here is how 
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I’m sure all of us know at least one person suffering from diabetes, because 1 in 12 adults in India are living with this condition. It’s no surprise, as India is home to 63 million diabetics and the number is estimated to be 100 million by 2030. According to the WHO, diabetes has the potential to become one of the largest killer diseases by 2030, and vigorous and concerted actions are needed to battle its ever increasing prevalence.

What has caused this disease to grow by 100% in the past 15 years in the country ? Obesity is one of the main causes of diabetes, apart from other lifestyle factors. It is strongly associated with western diets, as it was uncommon in cultures that consumed a 'primitive’ or a more traditional diet. However as cultures switch from their native diets, to the foods of commerce; their rate of diabetes increases eventually reaching the proportions seen in the western societies.

The sad part is that diabetes affects men and women of all age groups. In fact, Indians are known to develop type 2 diabetes at a younger age and at a lower body mass index (BMI). According to a trial published in 2014, it was found that almost half of the patients with type 2 diabetes in India are diagnosed under the age of 40 years.

This highlights the importance of screening for these risk factors as well complications in this age group, or the implications for the Indian healthcare system are enormous.

Some complications that may arise from mismanagement of diabetes include:
•    Vision loss
•    Heart problems
•    Kidney failure
•    Loss of sensation
•    Lower immunity

Small Changes, Big Difference

More than four in five diabetics on medication in India do not have their blood glucose under control. Lack of awareness about diabetes and its complications, delayed diagnosis, myths surrounding diabetes management and dependence on quacks for treatment makes diabetes detection and management difficult. Uncontrolled levels of blood sugar can lead to tissue damage throughout the body.

HenkBekadam, the WHO representative to India believes that India could prevent or delay diabetes through "population-based interventions such as regular physical activity and maintaining a normal body weight”. It’s time to take charge of your life, and not let the disease overpower you.

Eating healthy can greatly affect sugar levels. For instance, carbohydrates are the foods that often have the biggest impact on your blood sugar levels. Also, while high blood sugar is a concern, low blood sugar can also prove to be detrimental, and cause dizziness and fatigue. A disciplined lifestyle with a balanced diet and activity routine has helped many in bringing down the blood sugar levels.

If you or someone you know is living with diabetes, here are some tips to ensure you manage this condition like a pro:

Eat on time: Eating on time is essential to managing diabetes. When people are able to stabilize their blood sugar levels throughout the day, it helps regulate their appetite as well. A 5-10 percent weight loss in type 2 diabetics can lead to increase in insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar.

Control portion size: 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.

Choose healthy: Carb counting helps control the amount of carbs to be taken when on insulin. Also, include salads before meals. Whole grains and millets like jowar, bajra, ragi and whole wheat contain a good amount of fibre which helps slow release of glucose in the body giving it time to metabolize glucose. Substitute salt for lime, tamarind or vinegar to control blood pressure. Sugar can be substituted by Stevia, dates or raisins.

Be Active: Committing to a daily exercise routine promotes better blood sugar levels, blood lipid control, and mood. It also leads to higher energy levels, which makes it easier to exercise. Daily exercise helps keep blood vessels healthy, makes you feel better about yourself, and also aid in weight loss. Choose from a variety of options such as cycling, brisk walking, yoga, low impact aerobics, swimming or playing sports. Even choosing to climb stairs as opposed to taking the elevator helps!


The writer is founder, Obino, a fitness and weight-loss coaching app 

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