Adult diabetes affects 7.3 crore people in India alone; with the best form of treatment being prevention. Diabetes is a metabolic disease with significant contribution from poor lifestyle (nurture) and one’s own genetic predisposition inherited from parents (nature). It is very important to understand the importance of both in managing blood sugars as lifestyle change alone may not be sufficient and they may need help with medication if the blood sugars are uncontrolled despite sufficient effort with lifestyle changes.
The 4 Pillars:
'Nurture' on one side with 2 pillars, i.e., Diet and Exercise
Dietary Management: Diabetes does not mean one has to give up their passion for food. It simply means that one must eat properly.
All people, including diabetics, benefit from a natural, high-fiber diet, slowing down the digestion rate and preventing blood glucose spikes post meals.
- Consume small, frequent meals. Avoid overeating.
- Sugary, refined, processed, and packaged foods to be moderated if not completely avoided.
- Hydrate and include low-calorie fluids in your diets such as buttermilk, vegetable, or dal soup.
Physical Activity/Exercise: A major change that all diabetics must make to live a more active life is exercising, which aids in weight management as well as the breakup of a sedentary lifestyle. Walking, yoga, swimming, and dancing/aerobics are all excellent physical activities, that can be pursued after discussing with your doctor regarding the most appropriate one.
'Nature' (underlying genetic makeup which is unmodifiable) - Medication and Regular follow-up forming the other two pillars.
Genes act as blueprints for how one's body will grow, develop, and function. Change in genes, however, alters body functions changes as well, passing down modifications from generation to generation.
According to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care, scientists have discovered more than 65 genetic changes that can increase a person's risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 30 percent.
Medication: There are a number of medications that are available to treat diabetes thanks to the inventions of modern medicine. One has to remember that these medications are tested across the globe on millions of patients and are proven not only to be effective but are safe to be used in long term. Hence trusting the medication and taking them regularly is of paramount importance. If one notices any side effects – they should be discussed with the doctor as soon as possible to allow him/her to find a solution that may include an alternative medication.
Regular follow up: Diabetes is an age-related ailment and is generally understood to be a disease that comes due to progressive loss of insulin-producing ability from one’s own pancreas. Given this, it is possible that medication may become insufficient to control sugars and may need revision from time to time. Also, as a good preventive measure, one needs to be screened for potential complications related to eyes, kidney, and heart well in advance to allow doctors to start secondary preventive treatment sooner than later.
The article is authored by Dr. Srinivasa Munigoti D, Consultant Endocrinologist, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore. Views expressed are personal.
First Published: IST