The word Diabetes is derived from the Greek word which means “to pass through”, and mellitus comes from Latin word means “sweet” or “honey”. Thus the two characteristics symptoms are frequent urination and presence of glucose in the urine. Other symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, weakness, unintentional weight loss etc. Diabetes increases due to absolute or relative lack of insulin in the body and leads to abnormalities in metabolism.
Diabetes can occur in any age group – from young infants to the elderly. It mostly occurs in the middle or older aged adults. The majority of cases are of type 2 diabetes where cells in the body fail to respond to insulin. Type 1 diabetes is less common; the pancreas can’t make enough insulin in this type. If left untreated diabetes can lead to complications such as heart diseases, retinopathy (eye complications), nephropathy (kidney complications) and neuropathy (lack of sensation).
According to doctors, type 2 diabetes non-curable, especially in the advanced stages. It can be controlled through better nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity and by following regular checkups. But the good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable!
Here are some of the lifestyle modification techniques which one can incorporate to reduce the risk of diabetes:
1. Manage your weight: Being Obese or overweight is a big risk factor for developing diabetes. Excess body fat, especially around the abdominal area, can increase body resistance to insulin leading to type 2 diabetes.
Weight loss is the most efficient way to stop the progression of the disease in overweight individuals. Every kilogram of excess weight lost cuts the risk of developing the disease by 16 %.
2. Be Active: Every individual is aware of the fact that physical activity is good for health and being physically inactive raises the risk of diabetes. Physical activity helps to have better control over blood sugar levels, maintains overall good health, boost brain activity, helps to deal with the stress and improves the mood by releasing the feel-good hormones.
Many pieces of research demonstrate that 150 min of physical activity per week help body use insulin better and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Before starting any exercise regime, it is very important to check with your doctor.
3. Eat healthily: What, When and how much you eat affects your blood sugar levels. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Opt for non-fat dairy and lean meat. Additionally, restrict foods that are high in fat and sugar like bakery products, sugar-laden biscuits, and beverages. ‘Convenience meals’ are high in saturated fats and sugar and can spike the sugar levels. Use fresh ingredients and choose healthy cooking methods like grilling, baking, steaming over frying.
For weight and sugar control, skipping meals is a bad idea as it can lead to overeating at other meals or snacks. Maintain food log for a week and notice the eating pattern can help to cut down on unwanted calories.
4. Manage stress: In this fast-paced life, every day is filled with stress. If not managed timely, stress can take a toll on our health. When stress increase, so do the sugar levels. When we are in stress and are anxious, we forget to take medicines, don’t feel like exercising and eat unhealthy food. Join a hobby which relaxes you, do yoga or deep breathing exercises to cope with stress.
5. Quit Smoking and alcohol: If a person smokes, the chances to develop diabetes complications go high. Alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to spike or fall spontaneously.
6. Sleep well: Sleep deprivation and poor quality sleep increase the risk of diabetes. Thus, you need to have a good quality sleep of 6-8 hrs per day for better recovery. It also helps manage the sugar levels well.
7. Sip, Sip, and Sip: We know, 70% of our body is made up of water. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells, and flushes out toxins from the body. On the other hand, it prevents constipation and regulates body temperature. Thus it is an excellent health-boosting drink.
If you do not have diabetes, prevention is the most beneficial option! Therefore, improve your lifestyle, monitor your sugars at regular intervals and stay away from this silent killer. If you are overweight and already diabetic, lose weight to control your sugars better. Weight management and a healthy lifestyle can also stop the progression of diabetes and help prevention of its complications. Talk to your doctor about your goals to prevent type 2 diabetes. For help with weight loss or other lifestyle changes, consult your dietitian and get a personalized advice.