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The pillars in controlling & reversing diabetes: nutrition, exercise, sleep,& stress

CASE STUDY & SUCCESS STORIES


Introduction: Understanding diabetes and its impact

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to support the food intake and lifestyle or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose.

As per ICMR, the prevalence of diabetes in India is around 10.1 crores. Managing diabetes isn't just about medication; it involves a holistic approach focusing on nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, and prudent medication use. Depending alone on medications might cause harm to other organs like the heart, kidney, chronic liver diseases, etc. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises focusing on a wholesome and sustainable lifestyle change to reverse your diabetes and regain health.


Nutrition- Eating right to reverse diabetes!

· Weight Management- Did you know that even losing 7-10% of your current weight through a healthy sustainable diet, which means losing fat and building muscle can positively affect your blood sugar levels? Many Indians with diabetes have a TOFI (Thin Outside, Fat Inside) body structure. Despite having an ideal BMI, the lurking visceral fat, especially around the belly, can be a concern. The key is to focus on a diet that targets this belly fat effectively.

· Opt for balanced meals- Balance is the mantra here. It is important to make sure all your meals are balanced with wholesome food including whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, ragi, millets, jowar, bajra, green rotis, etc. with less-cooked vegetables for fiber, efficient protein, and healthy fats. A combination of such can help manage and lower your blood sugar levels.


· The power of protein & fiber- Each meal should be a balance of protein & fiber to help your blood sugar levels stay in check. Remember, it's about balance- too much protein without enough fiber can disrupt your pH balance and make your body inflammatory or acidic.

· Cut down the sugar- Those small sips of chai or coffee may seem harmless, but they can cause unwanted sugar spikes. It is important to make healthier choices by choosing green tea, unsweetened buttermilk with ginger & mint, coconut water, or lemon water. These alternatives are not just low in calories but also gut-friendly. Including black coffee boosts energy levels, and metabolic activity and reduces hunger and cravings to a great extent. However, it is important to note that some people might be sensitive to caffeine and may experience headaches or compromised sleep quality.


· Diverse protein intake- Look out for healthy protein that is grass-fed and anti-inflammatory. Diversity is the key- choose a variety of proteins like grass-fed meat, country chicken, homemade paneer, tofu, dairy products, nuts & seeds.


· Limit alcohol consumption- Alcohol can affect your sugar levels. Reducing your consumption can have a significant impact on your overall blood sugar levels.


· Fasting &feasting periods- Ensure enough fasting periods for the body to use body fat to generate energy and support a more effective glucose metabolism.

Exercise- Transform your life through movement

Exercise isn’t just about staying in shape; it also impacts your overall health by reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), improving your HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), maintaining & strengthening your bones and muscles, and easing anxiety and depression.

For people with diabetes, exercise acts as a double-edged sword. It helps lower blood sugar levels and enhance insulin sensitivity. By combining exercise with appropriate nutritional intake can be most beneficial in controlling blood sugar levels and reducing HbA1c levels.

The most effective exercise to manage diabetes is:

· Cardiovascular exercises like running, walking, cycling and swimming. These exercises are good for your heart and your blood sugar levels too.


· Strength training which includes weight training to not only build muscle mass but improve insulin sensitivity thereby managing diabetes.

Quality sleep in managing diabetes

Sleep is an important factor in managing diabetes. Poor sleep cycle can lead to:

· Increase in stress hormone (cortisol)

· Reduce insulin sensitivity

· Oxidative stress and inflammation in the body

· Increase C-reactive protein and inflammatory markers


This canlead to insulin resistance and hampers the activity of insulin which in turn disrupts the blood sugar levels.


Quality sleep along with adequate diet and physical activity can together help in managing, and in fact, reversing diabetes.Imbalanced nutrition and lack of physical activity can deteriorate the quality of sleep which significantly leads to higher fasting sugar and cravings throughout the day.

Understanding the impact of stress on diabetes

Stress can have an impact on your mental, emotional, and physical health.


·Body’s fight or flight response: Stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released by the body in a "fight or flight" reaction. Insulin resistance is the term for the hormones' inability to allow insulin to function as it should. In certain cases, elevated stress hormone levels may impair the function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and cause them to produce less insulin. Consequently, type 2 diabetes may develop as a result of this.


·The vicious cycle of stress-induced overeating-Stress can trigger emotional eating, leading to overweight or obesity and eventually developing insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.


·Diabetes-induced stress- Living with diabetes is itself stressful. Some people may occasionally begin to feel overwhelmed by their diabetes and might feel frustrated and despair. There might also come a feeling of fear, guilt, and overthinking if they are doing the right thing to manage their diabetes condition. It all can become a bit overwhelming, which can also increase their stress hormones and worsen the condition.

The end goal!

The goal should be to reduce the dose or stop the medication gradually by improving eating habits and lifestyle practices. Patience and sustainability are the key factors here. It is important to understand the connection between all four pillars and seek a holistic approach to manage and reverse diabetes.


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