By Dr. Rohit Shukla
One out of six people with diabetes in the world is from India. When viewed alongside the fact that the total number of people with diabetes in the world is projected to rise from 171 million in 2000, to 366 million in 2030, this statement is of particular concern for us in India.
But here’s the good news. In response to the alarming health threats posed by the increasing incidence of diabetes, in 1991, the WHO notified November 14 as World Diabetes Day (WDD). This has put the disease and its prevention and management on top priority globally. The other heartening fact is that from Tom Hanks to Sonam Kapoor, thriving diabetics across the world, prove that it is possible to live a healthy fulfilling life, despite the disease.
What is Diabetes?
The disease stems from our internal systems’ irregularity in producing or responding to the hormone insulin. This leads to a shooting up of glucose in the blood, triggering faulty processing of carbohydrates. If left unmanaged, diabetes can trigger serious health crises, including strokes and heart disease. Yes, diabetes may be a hereditary illness but increasingly, it is the urban lifestyle excesses that have pushed the India figures, making the country the ‘diabetes capital’ of the world.
The Diabetes Red Flag: Sugar
As testified by all who lead active, happy lives with diabetes, one of the main factors to focus on in order to prevent and manage diabetes is to regulate one’s sugar intake. The maximum recommended daily amount of sugar is roughly 30g for adults – which works out to be seven teaspoons. Given that a tablespoon of tomato sauce contains around one teaspoon of sugar, you can gauge the critical need to control added sugar.
Check your kitchen and make the necessary changes now. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
– Strike out white sugar from your grocery list forever. Excess sugar leads to weight gain, a direct trigger for diabetes. Remember, sugar is present in natural foods as well.
– Honey is a sugar alternative that can replace white sugar in beverages, desserts, and other foods. There is empirical evidence to indicate that honey is better at protecting against obesity and high triglycerides and cholesterol. It is also likely to increase sensitivity to insulin and lower blood sugar.
– The other good sugar alternative is organic Stevia, a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Stevia can reduce added calories in the diet without sacrificing taste, and has almost no calories. With a zero glycemic index, stevia helps to keep blood sugar levels in check. It is heat and pH stable which makes it ideal for cooking and baking. And here’s the best part: One sachet of stevia has sweetness equal to 2 teaspoon sugar.
– While jaggery has the same calorific value as sugar; however, it can be a substitute for sugar due to its added nutritional value. Jaggery Powder promises the finest quality jaggery made from organic certified sugar cane. The golden-brown delicacy is high in nutrition and taste and contains iron, vitamins, and minerals.
– Apple Cider Vinegar is believed to have several health-giving properties and the ‘mother’, (beneficial culture of bacteria) in Vinegar is a good source of minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and antioxidants. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates used it with honey as a healing elixir, antibiotic, and tonic for general health.
Build On Your Anti-diabetes Plan
Portion control – eat frequent small meals. This will keep your sugar levels balanced. (Try five meals instead of three big ones.)
Eat foods rich in MUFA and PUFA or ‘good fats’ – these reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ in your system. Include olives, dairy, corn, whole grains, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
Use more cinnamon – it helps maintain blood sugar levels. Organic Cinnamon supplement is a way to boost your cinnamon intake.
Ensure your daily food has a good mix of cereals, pulses, or lean meat, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products.
Test your sugar levels at different times in the day to understand your body’s response to your routine, and fix your diet and timings for meals, and exercise accordingly.
Exercise every day for better blood sugar control. About 40 minutes of brisk walking will suffice – unless you are overweight.
Consider boosting your efforts with the right herbal supplements:
– Organic supplements helps maintain blood sugar levels and improves insulin levels.
– Liver & Kidney Care, containing herbs punarnava and katuki (research shows the herb plays a potential role in supporting the body’s response to blood sugar levels) too provides good support for diabetics.
– Another supplement with katuki, is Vitality which gives you the added benefit of pushing up energy levels.
Let’s make the day count by being mindful and keeping diabetes at bay or learning to manage it better.
(The author is from ORGANIC INDIA, BAMS (focused in Ayurvedic Medicine/Ayurveda) from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)