There is an increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases, and one of the most common is diabetes. Research shows how it currently affects over 425 million people worldwide, with more than 72.9 million cases in India in 2017. While seeking professional and clinical help is important when treating diabetes, there are a few things every individual can do to keep themselves healthy and fit in order to maintain their blood sugar levels.
Talking to Delhi-based nutritionist Ritika Samaddar, we find out how a bit of effort on a daily basis can go a long way in preventing diabetes or keeping it in check.
Samaddar is of the opinion that most of the diseases that have plagued India in recent times are a result of poor lifestyle choices. “In the past few years, India has become the diabetes capital of the world because of the poor choices that we have made,” she says adding that this is happening because a lot of people can’t control what they eat, exercise less, suffer from obesity and so on.
Initially, diabetes was a disease that was found usually in people in the age group of 40 and above but these days it is common to find it among youngsters. “There are medicines and supplements available to counter diabetes, but what is more effective is starting to care for your body by keeping a watch on what goes into your system from early on so that you do not fall prey to it. Diet plays an important role in our lives, it either makes us really healthy or really sick. Following a meal plan can help control diabetes,” she says.
The meal plan can be divided into two parts: To prevent diabetes and to control diabetes.
TO PREVENT DIABETES
“Healthy food is the key to preventing not only diabetes but any lifestyle-induced illness,” she says adding that while consuming food it is important to take in food high in protein and fibre. Vegetables, meat, pulses, fruits and nuts should be a part of the diet in a balanced way. “Adequate quantities of fibrous vegetables and fruits will add roughage which is important for the body,” she further mentions.
Every individual must keep a check on their weight as well. Sudden weight gain / loss is an indication that something is wrong with the body and it should be addressed immediately. “Snacking adds to unhealthy weight gain, however, it is important to eat at regular intervals in limited quantities,” she says adding that eating fried foods is a complete no-no, instead one must substitute these unhealthy snacks with a handful of nuts and seeds.
“In order to prevent diabetes it is important to cut down on carbohydrates and even if you are consuming them, it is important to exercise regularly to keep a tab on the weight,” she says.
TO CONTROL DIABETES
The intake of whole carbs, which is found in grains and oats, is important because they are a source of energy. “Many a time, it is seen that people with diabetes consume 70-80 per cent of calories a day which should be gradually brought down to 50-55 per cent,” she says adding that this can be achieved if they consume food in proportion. “Right amount of fibre through fruits, good protein through nuts, meat and dairy should be a part of the diet,” she says adding that along with the food it is important for every diabetic patient to exercise 365 days.
The minimum amount of exercise that is required by the body to keep it in shape and functioning properly is a 45-minute workout or 10,000 steps. “It is very important to be mobile throughout the day even if your job does not allow you to, go for walks in your free time, skip the elevator — take the steps, keep moving and maintain a healthy weight,” Samaddar says adding that diabetic patients must consume small quantities of food every 2 to 3 hours to keep the blood sugar level stable.
MAINTAINING A GOOD LIFESTYLE
“Altering your lifestyle is the key to being fit and healthy. When we say lifestyle it includes food, exercise and the amount of sleep a person gets,” she says pointing out that these days not getting adequate sleep has become one of the reasons of chronic diseases.
The waist circumference is an important indicator for health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and blood pressure. “Obesity is directly related to diabetes and heart problems, so it is important to keep a check on weight gain and the food that you consume. Also, you must cut down on processed foods which have a lot of calories that cannot be broken down into muscle energy and only add to the bad fat in the body,” she concludes.