It is hardly a hidden fact that diabetes is one of the most serious health issue in today’s modern world. With the growth of contemporary society, accompanied by more and more sophistication, luxury and comfort, newer gadgets and present day working methods and lifestyles, diabetes is increasingly taking world in its grip. Moreover, it has moved further on from just being a genetic disorder to a lifestyle ailment that is caused due to poor diet control, consumption of unhealthy food and lack of physical activity. However, before elucidating on how to keep yourself fit along with diabetes by eating healthy, let’s throw a little light on what diabetes actually is.
Diabetes is essentially a metabolic disorder, which obstructs the normal functioning of the body. The pancreas, located at the back of the stomach, secrets a hormone called insulin, which helps in the release of energy from glucose, which is a simple sugar that is derived from any carbohydrate source. Any imbalance, subtle or major, absolute or relative, of insulin disturbs the correct working of the sources of carbohydrate and affects the functioning of body which then develops into diabetes. However, the worst part of this disease is that it causes many other complications such as migraine, weight gain, nausea, lack of energy, to more serious afflictions like cataract, kidney failure and even heart failure, sometimes fatally, if proper and necessary measures are not taken to keep it under control.
But even though it sounds remarkably scary, if certain measures are correctly taken, the disease can be well-managed and kept under check to avoid any further damage to the body. Let’s check few ways in which you can keep the diabetes under control.
- Say No to Sedentary Lifestyle: In addition to pancreas, muscle tissues also produces a little amount of insulin for their own use. Sedentary lifestyle prevents any significant muscular exercise and disrupts the normal levels of insulin in the body. However, physical inactivity is harmful not only in case of diabetes but for other problems as well. Sitting down for most of the time during the day damages the blood vessels and constricts them. Moreover, it also slows down the metabolism of the body. This can be judged from the fact that even a little amount of inactivity can produce big change. Nevertheless, exercising even 4-5 times a week not only can restore the body to its normal working levels but also helps you avoid any significant damage and without incurring any cost.
- Limit your levels of Quick Sugars: Normal table sugars are also called quick sugars, since they deliver glucose in the blood at a very fast rate. Once taken, they push pancreas to work harder to produce more insulin. However, over the time this depletes the level of insulin in the body, thus causing problems. Therefore, it is advisable to keep away from sweets, chocolates, candies, biscuits, cakes and aerated drinks etc. However, most often, foods marked as low carb or low sugar are misleading but in fact lead to spike in sugar. Some of these like dextrose, dextrin, sorghum sugar, beet sugar, malt, HFCS are literally hidden sugars about which few people know. Moreover, aerated drinks and fruit juices also lead to sudden surge in sugars since they contain little fiber. Instead have plain water as much as possible which is very beneficial.
- Eat More Vegetables: A proper course with right amount of all the minerals, vitamins and fibers, vegetables are complete package of all things good. Amongst the many benefits of vegetables, they help to keep you full, are low in calories and provides the bulk which helps in proper excretion from the body. Moreover, vegetables also contain certain chemicals called phytochemicals that also helps to keep the overall balance inside the body and maintain the insulin levels. Thus, make sure to consume at least 400-500 gram of vegetables such as cabbage, capsicum, broccoli, onion’s, lady’s finger and other green leafy vegetables and avoid starchy vegetables like potato, yam and sweet potato which are immense in sugar content. While trying to cook them in as little oil as possible, ensure that they are consumed as fresh as they can.
- Nibble at regular intervals: Often most of the people starve for longer periods of time and then feel the need to binge or have sudden meals. Also most people eat only twice or thrice a day. However, to always keep your insulin levels to reasonable amount, divide your main meals into 4 courses and also have 4-5 mini-meals. Taking little meals throughout the day helps to produce insulin levels in adequate amounts and also prevents you from starving and overeating.
- Avoid Refined Carbohydrates: It is a general fact that carbohydrates are the main source of quick energy for the body. All carbohydrates, deliver glucose, which is the main fuel for the body for performing various functions. But here’s a catch. Latest trend amongst the people emphasize on complete elimination of carbohydrates from the diet of a diabetic person, which cause more problems than it solves. Brain, which is the main and most important organ of the body and which regulates all the functions works only with the help of glucose which it procures from liver. Thus, for a diabetic person, there is an imperative need to maintain a discretional balance in their diet. Thus, keep miles away from refined carbohydrates, i.e. those foods whose grains have been processed and their fibers removed. Therefore, rice, pancakes, maida, pastries and bread etc. are all refined carbs while whole grains like jowar, bajra, quinoa, ragi and oatmeal etc. should be added more and more in your fare.
- Avoid skipping your breakfast: When we sleep, there is a prolonged period of fasting and after waking up body needs energy as one feels hungry. During the time when a person sleeps, the body performs many vital functions for which it needs energy. This it derives from the muscles, which store tiny amounts of glucose and this needs to be replenished as soon as one wakes up. As the body needs energy throughout day and night, any deficiency should be refilled within the very first hour of waking up. This also ensures steady amount of insulin levels throughout the day. Make sure you have optimum levels of proteins and carbohydrates while focusing on a healthy meal. Diet such as that of a poha with a cup full of milk or Idli Sāmbhar, veg sandwich along with milk, veg paratha with a bowl of curd or porridge with milk are some good food options.
- Add more proteins to your diet: Indian diet and different varieties of food in India are such that it focuses less on proteins and more on carbohydrates. Proteins are relatively slower to get digested and assimilated. Thus, they lead to steady levels of insulin in the body and also creates a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time. Ensure that there is at least three portions of proteins in your diet. Include food items in your plate like dals/pulses, seeds, nuts, low fat cheese, egg white, fish and lean chicken etc. for the necessary proteins.
- Stay Away from excess alcohol: If you are diabetic then definitely avoid excess alcohol. Alcohol is nothing but quick sugars with a good amount of calories and without any nutrition. If you can’t avoid drinking, then switch to red wine which at least delivers a rich dose of antioxidants. But nevertheless, restrict even this to not more than two glasses per week.