Overcome Diabetes

by UCare Team

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Good health is a lifestyle. It cannot be acquired by consuming any ‘instant’ magic potion. It is the outcome of a combination of a number of factors, including habits, stress, fitness and diet.

Diabetes is a progressive killer disease. One needs to understand that diabetes if left untreated or unmanaged, can lead to significant health complications like blindness, amputation, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.

In 2017, the Indian Council for Medical Research, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and Public Health Foundation, India, reported diabetes had increased by 64% over the last 25 years.

As per the World Health Organisation, India report (http://www.searo.who.int/india/mediacentre/events/2016/en/), 69.2 million people suffered from diabetes in 2015 and as per The International Diabetes Federation (https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/health-trends/india-has-the-highest-number-of-diabetes-patients-in-the-world-2469649.html), this is expected to affect more than 123 million people by 2040.

90% of the above cases account for Type 2 diabetes wherein the body does not use insulin properly.

So why this recent spurt in the incidence of diabetes in India? Where did we falter? We Indians, have neglected our heritage, our culture, our age-old systems and our habits, trading it all for everything ‘instant’ - from instant food to instant gratification.

It is time to effect change. To go back to healthy lifestyles. To embrace family ties and community living. To fight this battle jointly.

The 2019 theme for diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day is Family and Diabetes (https://worlddiabetesday.org/about/2019-theme/ ). This Diabetes Day November 14, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) aims to address diabetes in India with a different perspective. It is highlighting the importance that family or a support group plays in handling diabetes. Some of which can be surmised as: -

1. Initiating diet alterations
Indian food has plenty of fats and sugar. The kind of food prepared and eaten at home, plays a significant role in controlling the disease. So, whether other family members can help to cook healthier meals or eat timely meals together, will help to bring in a positive change for a person with diabetes.

2. Incorporating a fitness schedule
With late hours at work in metro cities, exercise is the first to take a back seat. Not realizing, our sedentary lifestyles are actually the cause of the disease. Going to a gym or taking a daily walk with a family member will boost one’s fitness levels required to prevent/control diabetes.

3. Doctor appointments
A family member accompanying you to a doctor means a lot.

4. Family background
Monetary status, education level, the relationship between other family members, also play a role in Diabetes.

5. Social and emotional backup
The word diabetes rings a life long-suffering. What we Indians, don’t know is that, Diabetes
- It can be prevented
- It can be controlled
A family member needs to show empathy towards the patient, educate him/her and help to make every change to improve the condition.

6. Handling depression
When you are diagnosed with diabetes you may feel like a victim. Don’t question God! Question your habits and your family history to face the disease. Other family members can show compassion and positivity to help acceptance and tide over any depressive feelings.

7. Clearing misconceptions and taking preventive measures
Have you had your regular check-up? Are you following a healthy lifestyle? Do you have a family history of diabetes? Family-based timely interventions are most essential.

Let us address here what role a family plays to prevent diabetes/handle a patient with type 2 diabetes: -

1. Get a proper medical evaluation
Diabetes is not reversible, is the biggest myth we Indians believe.

There are a few early signs of diabetes which may be mild. These include an increase in thirst levels, urinating often, a longer time for a wound to heal and overall tiredness. Often diabetes develops gradually and goes undiagnosed. Today a person can test their blood glucose at home using a blood glucose monitor but initial screening is best done by a doctor. It is therefore recommended for all adults over 40 years to test their blood glucose every 3 years.

Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers also share some risk factors; therefore, it is crucial to initiate diabetes management.

So, begin with a family member accompanying you to a well-known endocrinologist near you and make those lifestyle changes today.

2. Lose weight
Reducing overall weight is not the most effective cure for diabetes. Look into the mirror sideways and if you have lost weight and are left with thin arms and legs and a protruding stomach, you probably are at a higher risk of diabetes. While reducing weight, it is important that the person sets realistic goals to lose weight, maintain a record and manage weight loss without losing bone mineral density/muscle density. This can only be done through proper eating, avoiding fad diets and getting fitter. A few pointers that help you to lose weight in a healthy manner are-

i. Eat all meals. Missing meals and replacing them with tea /coffee can do more damage than good.
ii. Avoid juices and instead eat the fruit.
iii. Eat locally grown rice with pure ghee, dal, curry or as biryani preferably before 7 pm
iv. Include healthy fats in your food. For insulin-resistant people, homemade pure ghee helps smooth motions and in assimilating Vit D, B12. Prefer kacchi ghani (cold-pressed) groundnut, mustard, coconut oils over refined oils.
v. Consume seasonal and local fruits and vegetables.

3. Increase Fiber intake
Fiber is said to reduce the risk of diabetes by improving blood sugar control. Foods rich in fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains. We Indians get a good amount of fiber from fresh daliya, dosa, idlis, poha, parathas. Our seasonal millets e.g. consuming Bajara in winter, Jowar in summer, Nachni throughout the 12 months is also a healthy choice.

But in recent years, with advertising corrupting our minds, we prefer a bowl of well-packaged oats to a well-balanced traditional breakfast. It’s a misnomer that those boxed oats are high in fiber. Likewise, other packaged foods labelled low sugar, low calorie, high protein should be clearly steered clear of. Most packaged foods lead to constipation and get in the way of zinc assimilation making you more insulin resistant.

Micheal Pollan, (https://michaelpollan.com/reviews/how-to-eat/) a writer, activist and food guru simply states, eat ‘real food which doesn’t have a long ingredient list, isn’t advertised on TV, and it doesn’t contain stuff like maltodextrin or sodium tripolyphosphate. Real food is things that your great-grandmother (or someone’s great-grandmother) would recognize’.

4. Get regular physical activity
Yoga consists of physical, mental, and spiritual practice which balances the body, mind and soul.

So, practice this age-old exercise form, do aerobic exercises, do resistance training in the gym or simply walk or jog in a park. Any form of physical activity performed every day for about 40 minutes reduces the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.

There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
Lose weight
Lower your blood sugar
Boost your sensitivity to insulin that can help maintain your blood sugar in the normal range
5. Give up smoking and alcohol
Smoking is injurious to health is no empty threat. Similarly, alcohol abuse also affects good health. It best to regulate /stop the use of both. Let the family remind you of the ugly consequences.

Diabetes is not a curse. Learn to prevent it or accept it. On World Diabetes Day, let us begin with every family contributing by making small changes in their lifestyle to keep diabetes away! Family intervention can be the backbone to help control diabetes.

Posted on Nov 18, 2019