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  • Dr Pooja Sharma

Lifestyle & Diabetes


The whole world seems to be trying to warn Indians about diabetes. The genetic predisposition, combined with the adoption of unhealthy life-style, which makes Indians obese, inactive and stressed out, is playing havoc not only with the elderly but also hitting the younger generation.




“Diabetes mellitus” is characterized by elevated blood glucose concentration, because of body’s inability to take up and utilize glucose, leaving a large amount of unutilized glucose and fats in the blood and unused glucose starts appearing in urine. Apart from this various organs are affected like eyes (cataract, glaucoma, and retinopathy), kidneys, blood vessels and heart. There are some predisposing factors which may lead one to diabetes like hereditary, diet, obesity, stress, sedentary life style and addictions. If one adopts a healthy life style, s/he can avoid getting hit by diabetes anytime in future. Healthy life style includes healthy diet, regular work outs including brisk walks and coping up with stress. A. Healthy Diet:- Diet is an entirely new approach to diabetes which includes:

1. Low Glycemic Index (GI) Foods: Glycemic index means the rise in blood sugar after intake of food. High GI foods are digested and metabolized rapidly, causing a sharp rise in blood sugar levels which in turn leads to overproduction of insulin thus contributing weight gain(GI is 70 or above) whereas low GI(GI is below 70) foods provides greater satiety. Certain low glycemic index foods include:

i) Cereals: Among cereals wheat has GI of 70 whereas brown rice has GI of 50. Whole grains are filling (you end up eating less) and have very little fat and no cholesterol. Barley is another wonder grain which has low glycemic index with soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol levels. Oats is also low GI grain loaded with soluble fibre. Select old –fashioned meal instead of instant varieties. The more grain, lower the glycemic index.



ii) Pulses: Among pulses select beans and pulse with skin like black gram, Bengal gram, chickpeas and beans for their low GI. Chickpeas are great in maintaining blood sugar levels due to GI less than 65. Beans also have GI less than 55 thus keep blood sugar steady and can be taken in sprouted form. Also they are low in fat and cholesterol, rich in soluble fibre, calcium and iron.




iii) Fruits: Low GI fruits like apples, cherries, oranges, peaches, pears, guava, and amla contain soluble fibre and vitamin c which help maintain the blood sugar & cholesterol levels and may prevent diabetic retinopathy. o Vegetables: Veggies such as bittergaurd, bottlegaurd, pumpkin, lettuce(Contains 3% or less carbohydrate), tomato (controls the percentage of sugar in urine), beans such as soybean, antioxidants in veggies such as broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower & green leafy veggies such as methi, contribute a lot in controlling blood sugar levels.




2. Milk and Milk products: Various studies done showed that dairy products contain high calcium, potassium and magnesium which are immensely helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. Double toned milk is helpful as it does not have high fat content.

3. Visible fats: Select more of monounsaturated fats such as olives, groundnuts, sesame seeds, rapeseed, canola & flaxseed and omega-3 fats such as walnuts, almonds, fish and soybean.


4. Non-vegetarian foods: Select fish and chicken over mutton, pork and beef. Also, go for egg whites instead of whole egg. 5. Juices and ayurvedic products: Gum Guar(Indian cluster beans), fenugreek , bitter almond has proved to lower blood sugar levels. Juices of amla, bittergaurd with extracts of jamun seeds, herbal tea loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols also contribute to maintain blood sugar levels.


B. Work Out:-Regular and controlled exercise helps to increase glucose utilization. It helps attain ideal weight , tones up the body , improves blood circulation and helps to reduce serum cholesterol levels thus increases good cholesterol(HDL) levels. Brisk walking is the most useful.



C. Coping up with stress:- Various studies show that psychotic stress causes the release of cortisol hormone which temporarily suppresses beta-cell function and increases insulin sensitivity and in turn increases sugar levels. Meditation and relaxation are the techniques or the life style modifications are necessary for coping up with prevalent stress, now a days.




D. Restriction on addictions:- Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and alcohol are associated with increase in blood sugar levels. Smoking contributes to poor blood glucose levels by interfering with the timings and effect of insulin. Alcohol produces complications such as hypoglycemia and neuropathy (effecting eye and neurons of brain), therefore one needs to minimize the intake of these. Therefore, it is extremely critical to improve the life styles in order to minimize the risk of getting entrapped with a deadly disease like diabetes. After all, “Prevention is better than cure”





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