All of us know someone who has a “sugar problem”. What is commonly known as “sugar” is actually Diabetes Mellitus – a non-communicable disease. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone secreted by our pancreas and helps to regulate glucose (sugar) levels in our body.
When insulin cannot do its work properly it leads to a state of more than normal levels of glucose in our blood which over time causes serious damage to many organs especially our nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetes has become a challenge for India as 8.7% people between the age of 20 to 70 years are estimated to be diabetic. The way we live our lives has changed rapidly in the last 50 years and the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases are driven by several factors like: rapid urbanization, sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, tobacco use, and increasing life expectancy.
The risk factors for diabetes include family history, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle and smoking. As the saying goes, “Prevention is the best cure”, the best cure for diabetes is also preventing it in the first place. We cannot alter our genetics but there is a lot we can do. We can consume a healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Decreasing the amount of highly processed food is very beneficial.
So swap that burger for the humble rice or roti or idlis! Adopting a more physically active lifestyle helps to prevent not only diabetes but many other non-communicable diseases. One need not join a gym to be physically active, we can start small by brisk walking, jogging or even playing games like badminton a few times a week. A healthy diet and physically active lifestyle will help to keep our weight in check.
Another thing we can do is kick the butt! Quitting smoking, will not only help to prevent diabetes but also high blood pressure, heart diseases and stroke. Lastly, we should get our blood glucose checked regularly.
This helps to catch increasing blood sugar levels on time. While diabetes cannot be completely cured, it can be managed effectively with a combination of lifestyle changes and medicines.
– Dr. Shraddha Deokota
Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Science