Dr Srikanth HS
With almost 70 million people in the country suffering from the condition, type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in India. According to a study published in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, 98 million people will have type-2 diabetes by 2030, and more than half of them will not have access to insulin.
When left untreated, diabetes can cause organ damage, stroke, heart disease, and in rare cases, limb amputations. However, insulin resistance can be easily managed, even reversed in some cases, with diet modification, naturopathy and regular exercises, including yoga.
The food you consume is converted into glucose, which fuels the cells in the body. The excess glucose in the system is stored in the form of fat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, is a shuttle for the glucose in the system. If the system has excess glucose, the insulin production goes up. If you regularly binge eat, then the body ends up requiring more insulin to shuttle the glucose to cells. This is referred to as pre-diabetes or insulin resistance.
Here are a few healthy dietary changes and lifestyle modifications that will help prevent the onset of pre-diabetes or control if you are diagnosed diabetes.
Cut out white grains: White grains increase both glucose and insulin levels, increasing your body weight and insulin resistance. Make it a point to cut out white bread, white rice, white pasta, white sugar, and white potatoes. Stick to unprocessed, whole grains, and make sure you moderate your consumption. Try to consume more gluten-free grains.
Read the labels: Processed foods, bottled juice, soda, and energy drinks contain a lot of sugar and glucose-fructose syrup, which is an artificial sweetener that is made from corn starch. Artificial sweeteners are particularly dangerous since these inhibit the stimulation of hormones responsible for controlling your appetite. As a result, the brain does not signal your body to stop eating even when you’re full.
Get regular exercise: Exercise improves the body’s insulin resistance. It also helps to maintain the body weight. According to guidelines by WHO, get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, along with two days of resistance training. If you can increase the duration of moderate-intensity exercise to 300 minutes, you stand to gain additional health benefits. However, it is strongly advised that to consult your primary physician before you start an exercise, especially if you have been inactive for a long time.
Fix mineral deficiencies: Plenty of studies have demonstrated that people suffering from type 2 diabetes have some form of mineral deficiency. Foods rich in minerals include leafy vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, kale, bok choy, and chard. Other healthy sources of minerals include unprocessed grains, nuts, beans, peas, and seeds.
Increase fibre intake: Foods rich in fibre content helps slow down glucose release. Choose foods that have high fibre content, like vegetables, whole fruits, and beans. Fibre-rich foods are also more filling. As a result, you feel satiated, even when you eat less.
Have herbs and seeds: A number of herbs, spices, and seeds have beneficial properties when it comes to managing blood sugar levels. Fenugreek seeds help slow down the body’s absorption of carbohydrates and sugar and help manage diabetes effectively. Soak one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds overnight in water and consume the water and seeds in the morning. Amla fruit/ juice is another natural remedy to help reduce insulin resistance. Similarly, kalonji (nigella), cinnamon, raw onions, turmeric and karela juice are also beneficial for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
A chronic condition, diabetes is fast becoming an epidemic. A large number of cases remain undiagnosed until they cause organ damage or failure. To control sugar levels naturally, small modifications in dietary habits and lifestyle will go a long way towards restoring health and improving quality of life.
— The writer is a naturopath, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bengaluru
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