Updated: Jun 15
Diabetes is an ailment linked to Insulin (the master hormone). When there is insufficient production of Insulin, it is called Type 1 Diabetes. When the body produces more insulin than required to move the food into the cells or when the body produces insulin but the cells are not able to use it efficiently, it is called type 2 diabetes. India is the diabetes capital of the world with as many as 50 million people suffering from type-2 diabetes.
As per WHO, it is estimated that there would be an 58% increase by the year 2030. The type 2 diabetic population in India would have increased from 51 million people in 2010 to 87 million in 2030. Type 2 Diabetes is also considered to be a metabolic disorder, which means that it is an ailment linked to our food habits and lifestyle. So, if we change our food habits and lifestyle, we can control our diabetes and also reverse the symptoms to a large extent for long periods of time.
How does food and lifestyle impact diabetes?
If we eat foods that make the body insulin resistant in the long term, the body is forced to produce more of it which leads to destruction of Beta cells, thus leading to diabetes. There are two sources of blood sugar - Food and the liver. One of the jobs of the insulin is to prevent the liver from pumping excess glucose (carbohydrates converts to glucose in the body) into the blood. When insulin cannot do this, the fasting sugar increases although we may not have eaten for the last 8 hours.
Indians have a unique distinction of having higher levels of fasting sugar. World over, generally people have challenges of post meal sugar.If we eat quick digesting foods (like sugars, fermented & processed carbs etc.) which, go into the bloodstream very quickly., which again makes the insulin ineffective. This increases the sugar levels post meal. Ideal foods for people who are insulin resistant, are foods that are whole, slow digesting and not processed. Adequate amounts of protein and good fats in the daily nutrition reduces the diabetic levels in the body.
How can we control Diabetes?
Diabetes is a “lifestyle” diseases and the ideal way to control is to change our food habits consistently for a minimum of 3 days and ideally for 21 days. This conscious change in our food habits, then allows the body to reprograms itself to make the insulin more effective at the start of the day (fasting sugar) and after the meal (post meal sugar levels).
Lack of Physical activity or sedentary lifestyle also contributes to Insulin Resistance. Poor physical activity and sedentary lifestyle makes glucose (carbohydrates converts to glucose in the body) be stored in the cells, not allowing any more glucose go into the cells, thus leaving a lot of glucose in the blood, which is an indication of post meal sugar. 20 minutes of brisk walking out of comfort zone pushes the glucose out of the muscles which in turns leads to more inflow of the glucose into the cells.
Disturbed Sleep and chronic stress increases causes the cortisol (the stress hormone) which in turn raises Insulin. This contributes significantly to increase in fasting sugar. Disturbed Sleep and chronic stress also makes us crave for high calorized food which further increases the post meal sugar levels.
Symptoms of Diabetes
· Hunger and Fatigue
· Urinating more often and being thirstier
· Dry mouth and itchy skin
· Blurred vision
· Slow healing sores or cuts
· Pain or numbness in your feet or legs
· Unplanned weight loss
Finally, to conclude as per WHO recommendation, a diabetic person in order of priority, should firstly change their nutritional habits, secondly improve physical activity and finally use medications prudently to ensure long term good health.
Deepika Chalasani is a Clinical Nutritionist, Mind and Body Transformation Coach and co-founder of Fit4Life India, an integrated nutrition and wellness organisation for Indians that provides complete solutions, addressing health and wellness challenges of individuals by working on their overall well being. Deepika, Dietician & Nutritionist is based in Hyderabad, India and can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or Mobile +91 94910 11202.