Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is typically characterized by increased blood sugar levels over a period of time, it is the world’s most common endocrine disorder. The pancreas is one of the important body organs whose role is to help blood absorb the glucose we get from food. Increased blood sugar levels may occur either because the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or body cells are not responding properly to the insulin produced.
Diabetes can now very well be considered as a global epidemic – In 2017,425 million people had diabetes worldwide. In the US, diabetes cost nearly $245 billion in 2012.10% of the world population have diabetes including 7.2 million people who weren’t even aware that they are diabetic. DM has resulted in 250,000 deaths in 2015.Diabetes at least doubles a person’s risk of early death and the annual expenditure of diabetic people is approximately 2.3 times higher than the non-diabetics.
Now let’s learn, what are the types of Diabetes?
Diabetes is broadly classified into 3 types :
1: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus/ Juveline DM – This type of diabetes is more common in children & young adults. It happens when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin due to loss/damage of beta cells, it’s believed to be an autoimmune process that causes damage to beta cells of the pancreas.People suffering from type 1 DM need to monitor their blood sugar regularly, take insulin every day, proper diet and manage their lifestyle.It accounts for 10% of all cases worldwide.
2: Type 2 Diabetes/ Adult-onset DM/Non-insulin-dependent DM: This type of diabetes occurs when body cells fail to respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas. In the long term, a lack of insulin may also develop. It accounts for 85- 90% of all cases worldwide.This Diabetes is most commonly seen in people with excessive body weight / obese people/ people who have a sedentary lifestyle /hormonal conditions like hyperthyroidism, PCOD, Cushing’s syndrome.Lifestyle management, weight reduction, DM diet are the first steps of treatment. Medications are prescribed when lifestyle changes fail to control blood sugar levels.Every patient should be individually monitored, prescription drugs are generally given in combination(Metformin being the primary drug, given in combination with drugs like glyburide/rosiglitazone, etc).
3: Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes develops in some females at the time of pregnancy and it normally gets better after the baby is born. Regular blood sugar monitoring, exercise, diet management is recommended, between 10-20% of these females require a prescription, with insulin injections being the preferred choice.
Blood sugar levels in diabetes are: Fasting Blood sugar : >126mg/dl (normal: <110mg/dl) Plasma glucose after OGTT : >200mg/dl Complications that can occur in chronic diabetes are Neuropathy, nephropathy, vision loss, joint deformities, slow healing of wounds, CV diseases(about 75% of deaths in diabetes happen because of coronary artery disease), diabetic coma.
Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S but the good news is that it can very well be prevented and can even be cured. DM type2 is primarily a lifestyle disorder and DM type 1 is believed to be genetically linked but factors like diet and lifestyle definitely make a person more susceptible.
Steps which can help you prevent and reverse diabetes :
1: DIET – Foods with low GI (glycaemic index) raise blood sugar slowly as compared to high GI foods. Below mentioned are foods which are low GI and are good for DM patients :
Sprouts/Lentils -Go for soybean (very low GI-18), red lentils, black beans – always go for fresh lentils or sprout them, canned lentils have almost double GI as compared to the non-canned ones. Eat them sprouted in salads or in soups. Legumes including lentils not only help in regulating blood sugar levels but also help in reducing cardiovascular diseases.
Yogurt – Yogurt is natural probiotics and it helps in maintaining gut health. Always go for greek and unsweetened yogurt but don’t opt for low-fat ones, there is plenty of research to show how low-fat yogurt and milk are actually causing more harm than good.
Garlic – According to research published by the national cancer institute, the people who consumed a high garlic diet have 54% fewer chances of developing pancreatic cancer. Moreover, garlic is rich in elements like sulfur, oligosaccharides, selenium which strengthen pancreatic tissues.
Cherries & blueberries: Cherries are believed to have Lowest GI (23) in fruits, followed by grapefruit and plum. Watermelon has the highest GI. Blueberries & Cherries are rich in antioxidants which help prevent damage to pancreatic tissues.
Green Leafy vegetables: Add organic spinach, kale, mustard greens, beans to your diet. These will make your pancreas strong, provide you with vitB12, iron.
Soybean products: Tofu, soybeans, edamame beans are not only low GI but also an excellent source of protein and help make our guts stronger.
Avocados, coconut oil: Medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil helps in regulating blood sugar levels. This happens because when we eat foods rich in healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil&olive oil, our body uses these fats instead of sugar to gain energy. Mediterranean diet is proven to help our body in reducing cholesterol & slowing the degeneration of body cells.
Foods like Mushrooms, Broccoli, Tea made from dandelion roots, Cinnamon, Bitter guard extract, Barley, brown rice (limit to once a day) are low in GI and help to maintain pancreatic health.
Foods to avoid: Sugar, Milk, Honey, Molasses, Raisins, Packaged foods, pineapple, too much white rice (white rice taken with greek yogurt or lentils makes a good meal once a day), too much alcohol(limit to max 2 glasses per day of red wine – no other alcohol is recommended), Canned foods.
2: EXERCISE- Type 2DM which accounts for 85-90% of all cases worldwide can be easily prevented and be successfully reversed if a healthy lifestyle is maintained. Exercising regularly or practicing a high level of physical activity for more than 90 mins a day can reduce the risk of DM by 28%. Yoga is the most beneficial exercise for diabetes -a number of studies have already proved that practicing yoga has helped people reduce blood sugar levels within a few weeks- it not only reduces stress but also helps maintain blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, improves body flexibility, reduces the risk of developing diabetic complications and most importantly prevents the risk of developing diabetes. Yoga asanas which are most beneficial for DM patients are Pranayama, Halasana, Dhanurasana.
3: Sleep – Sleep quality is very important for body metabolism and functioning. A 2006 study found that those who report poor sleep quality have higher A1Cs level(blood sugar levels), this may explain why sleep apnea is so prevalent in diabetic patients. It’s important to make a proper bedtime routine(“Follow the sun-get up with the sun and go to sleep with it”), dim the lights, light meals at night, have warm water before bedtime and avoid late nights.
4:Supplements – There are a lot of herbs and supplements which can help in maintaining blood sugar levels, improving metabolism & lowering cholesterol levels :
Cinnamon– Just add one teaspoon of cinnamon to your tea or smoothies & it will do wonders for controlling blood sugars and cholesterol levels.
Fish oil- A 1000mg of fish oil when taken daily helps reduce inflammation & improves insulin sensitivity.
Bitter Melon extract – The four triterpenoids found in Bitter melon have AMP-activated protein kinase activity which is responsible for plausible hypoglycaemic mechanism. It is believed to have 225 different kinds of medical constituents, these compounds together or separately help in improving insulin sensitivity, regulate blood cholesterol, prevent diabetic complications. Bitter melon juice & when cooked lightly with some mustard/coconut oil should be consumed.
Fenugreek – Soak a teaspoon of fenugreek in warm water overnight and drink this water in the morning will help reduce blood sugar levels, improve metabolism & decrease weight.
All of the above-mentioned information, when teamed with a positive attitude, will do wonders in not only controlling your blood sugar levels but also making you a fit, healthy and happy person … It’s YOU who has to DO 🙂