Dr Geeta Joshi, an Ayurveda expert, said that Diabetes has become a major health problem worldwide, almost an epidemic. A major reason behind the sudden increase of diabetes is the changes in diet and lifestyle. Apart from the direct problems and risks posed by diabetes, there are many associated complications that are the indirect outcome of diabetes. It is a big trigger for cardiovascular disorders including heart attacks.
India has a huge burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) with diabetes and hypertension being the major medical problems. According to a NATHEALTH Report, NCDs will cost India $ 6 trillion by 2030.
A diabetic person is more prone to develop a heart disease or get a heart attack or stroke, as diabetes causes damage to blood vessels. Diabetics are unable to process insulin properly, a hormone made by the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose from carbohydrates for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keep the blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
If there is little or no insulin being produced or if the body becomes resistant to insulin, the glucose stays in the bloodstream and can’t move across to the body’s cells.
Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control the heart and its blood vessels. If one is diabetic for a long time, he/she is at a greater risk of developing heart disease. Diabetic people tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than people without diabetes. Diabetic adults face heart disease and stroke as the most common causes of death, and also are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes.
Being overweight is directly linked to several risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure, the main triggers for heart problems. So it is essential to maintain a healthy weight, appropriate for your age, height and gender.
Along with having a balanced nutritious diet, it is equally important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and making physical activity like jogging, running or yoga a must part of daily routine. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Besides this, it is also advisable to get regular health check-ups done and keep an eye on the sugar levels.
For the treatment of coronary heart diseases, it is strongly recommended that all people with diabetes must have their heart disease risk factors checked as aggressively and routinely as people who have already had heart attacks.
People with diabetes and signs of coronary heart disease are also advised to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet and also incorporating physical activity into their day to day activities. Some patients may also be prescribed to some kind of medication such as; ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, statins and a low dose of aspirin.
Eat the right foods
- Eat more healthy carbs, which include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full for longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
- Avoid unhealthy carbs such as white flour, refined sugar and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fibre and nutrients. They digest quickly and spike sugar levels.
- It is better to eat a mixture of millets such as jowar, bajra and ragi along with wheat. Try alternate foods like amaranth seeds and quinoa. They all are rich in fiber and have high content of minerals.
- Add high-quality protein to your diet
- Adults should aim for 1 gram of lean protein for each kilogram of weight.
- Replace red meat with fish, chicken.
- Vegetarians can opt for low fat dairy products, whole pulses, beans, soya and mixed whole grains.
- Egg whites are a good source of lean proteins.
Eat healthy fats
- Coconut oil, nuts and seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, mustard oil, desi ghee and butter are good sources of healthy fat. Eating healthy fats helps burn fat by speeding up your metabolism.
Go for vegetables
- Most fruits and vegetables are high in fibre and nutrient dense, but low in calories making them ideal for diabetics who often need to watch their calorie intake. The general rule for diabetics is that root vegetables should be eaten in moderation, while green and red vegetables are great choices. Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach and broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower are good too.
- Red vegetables are good for diabetics. A high intake of magnesium has been linked to a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes as well as increased insulin sensitivity. Magnesium rich vegetables, including black beans, spinach, okra, broccoli and peas should be eaten regularly.
Lot of fruits
- Cherries, grapefruit, prunes, apricots, apple, peach, guava and oranges do not cause a spike in blood sugar level.
2. How much to eat
- This depends upon your body weight, age and physical activity. Make sure that your body mass index (BMI) lies within the range of 18.5 – 22.9. BMI is equal to weight in kg / height in meters square. It is best to take advice from a qualified dietician as to how many calories you require per day.
3. Add these herbs and spices to your diet
- Cinnamon: Helps keep insulin stable so blood sugar stays controlled. Add half to 1tsp cinnamon to your morning tea.
- Apple cider vinegar: It may lower blood sugar levels; use it as salad dressing.
- Amla: It is low-sugar and fibre -rich fruit. It stimulates a group of cells that secrete the hormone insulin, thereby reducing the blood sugar level in diabetic patients.
- Fenugreek seeds: These increase production of bile acids and subsequently reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. They also help in lowering blood sugar levels.
- Chia seeds: These are tiny dark, nutty-flavoured seeds that are rich in nutrients like healthy fats, fibre and antioxidants.
- Gum (gond katira): This soluble fibre prevents and delays absorption of simple sugars from the gut. It gives one a feeling of fullness.
4. Time your meals
- Make sure you eat regularly: Have breakfast, lunch and dinner and have two snacks in between. Make sure you eat at regular rhythms and regular times to keep your hormonal clock in balance. Eat dinner at least three hours before sleeping.
5. Say no to artificial sweeteners
- Avoid use of artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame potassium instead of sugar as most of them have been linked to cancer in animals. As artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar, they tend to make you crave sugar more. Instead, if you use one teaspoon sugar, it will only add 20 calories and you will be able avoid all the harmful side effects.
6. Exercise regularly
- Get started with a regular routine of exercise and moving your body. It makes your cells and muscles more sensitive to insulin so you don’t need as much.
- Exercise for 30 minutes daily.
- Walk at least 10 to 15 minutes after meals
- Sleep well, drain out stress
Get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every day .Your digestive organs are replenished and restored and your hormones are balanced while you are sleeping.
Stress makes you fat and you tend to overeat and relaxation makes you thin. When you’re stressed, your cortisol level goes up. You feel hungry and your blood sugar and insulin levels rise.
Find something that helps you taper down stress — yoga, meditation, deep breathing….