Living with diabetes can impair your day to day life to an extent. But all is not lost. With the right precautions and treatment, you can live a regular life. But first, the basics.
What exactly is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body can’t use glucose normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas.
“Without insulin, cells can’t get the sugar they need to keep one energetic. By moving sugar from blood to body cells, insulin helps to keep blood sugar level normal (not too high, not too low). When one doesn’t have enough insulin to lower high blood sugar levels, it means you have diabetes.
Dr Anil Bhoraskar, senior diabetologist, Fortis SL Raheja Hospital elaborates on the types of diabetes:
In type-1 diabetes, the body cannot make insulin. This type of diabetes often occurs more in the children and young adults.
In type-2 diabetes, the body can make insulin, but the cells don’t use it as well as they should.
High blood sugar levels can cause serious health problems. It can lead to a heart attack and stroke, kidney problems, and vision problems. Diabetes can, and must, be treated.
Causes of diabetes:
The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. “However, genetics, diet, obesity and lack of exercise may play a role in developing diabetes, especially in type-2 diabetes,” says Jaee Khamakar, dietician, Fortis, Mumbai. Moreover, some risk factors for pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes include gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Symptoms of diabetes:
Some of the common symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, frequent urination, breath starts smelling fruity, fatigue or weakness, excessive sugar in the urine and excessive weight loss.
Diet for diabetes:
As a diabetic, you need to monitor your diet closely. Certain foods can trigger a hormonal imbalance, while some ingredients can ease your condition.
It’s a good idea to increase your fiber intake and consume fruits with low glycemic index. “Do not skip meals and it is best to space meals 4-5 hours apart. Losing weight gradually (even a few kilos) can help improve your blood glucose level. Carbohydrates are nutrients in food that turn into glucose (sugar), after being digested to provide energy to the body. People with diabetes should consume moderate amounts of carbohydrates during each meal, rather than avoiding them completely,” says Dr Bhoraskar.
Eat a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day. “Have low fat milk and milk products like cow’s milk, skim milk, and toned milk. Consume egg whites, chicken, fish and avoid egg yolk, red meat and dry fish,” says Khamkar.
Feasting and fasting is a no-no for diabetics. “Moreover, diabetics should avoid sugar, jaggery, honey and its products, and also steer clear from potato, arvi (taro root), suran (elephant foot yam) and ratalu (sweet potato). Limit alcohol consumption,” recommends Khamkar.
Prevention of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. However, the same healthy lifestyle choices that help treat prediabetes, type-2 diabetes and gestational diabetes, can also help prevent them. Khamkar’s mantras are simple: Eat healthy food, get more physical activity and lose the excess weight.