Diabetes is a lifestyle disease charactised by high blood sugar levels that was once common among the elderly. “However, the incidence of diabetes is increasing in the younger age groups too, making it a public health concern. According to estimates, India has about 77 million people — which boils down to about 1 in 11 Indians — diagnosed with diabetes, making it the second most affected country in the world after China,” said Dr Vivek Srivastav, senior vice president, Zeon Lifesciences.
Today, many people in their 30s and 40s might also be at risk for diabetes without even being aware because of low or no visibility of symptoms. “Your personal risk of slipping into diabetes increases if it runs in your family. Yet, it can be potentially reversed and treated to some extent with lifestyle and diet modifications,” said Dr Srivastav as he shared some pointers to keep in mind.
Sitting is the new smoking. A sedentary lifestyle is known to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes manifold. Regular exercise and workouts, approved by a trainer or doctor, help manage prediabetes by lowering blood glucose levels. Moreover, being active can improve the body’s insulin sensitivity. It can also help manage your weight, which is crucial to not slipping into diabetes. Try brisk walks, jogs, and runs and gradually move to do aerobic exercises such as dance and biking/bicycling.
Being overweight, or having a body mass index over 25, can increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, gradually losing 5-10 per cent of your body weight can significantly improve your chances of delaying or reversing diabetes prevalence. Ask a trainer to help you focus on your midsection for belly fat, as a large waist circumference is known to put a person at an increased risk of diabetes.
Keep stress at bay
Stress can make you sick, but it can also make you prediabetic, or at least make your condition worse. An imbalance of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline – known for the fight or flight response – can trigger blood glucose levels to shoot up and remain high. Make time for adequate rejuvenation on your schedule, and do not pressurise yourself to work like a machine. Make time for laughter, and spend quality time with friends and family. Schedule time for walks, gardening, or other hobbies that help you de-stress.
Watch what’s on your plate
Consider the composition of your meals. Is there an adequate balance between protein, carbohydrates, fats and necessary vitamins and minerals? For a healthy portion, one should fill half of their plate with non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens, and the rest with healthy carbohydrates, whole grains and lean protein. Stocking up on fibre will ensure satiety without raising blood sugar. “Snack on nuts and fruit, even if they seem to be sugary but in moderation,” said Dr Srivastav.
Avoid drinking your sugar
Added sugars must be avoided at all costs to avoid escalation into diabetes. Sweetened beverages can spike blood sugar levels and provide little nutritional diversity, such as protein. This includes energy drinks, soft drinks and any syrups or liquid desserts. Research says that substituting one daily serving of a sugary drink with low-calorie alternatives such as water, coffee, or tea is linked with a 2-10 per cent lower risk of diabetes.