Let's not sugar coat it, here's everything you need to know about diabetes
Last week, we observed World Diabetes Day on November 14. Every year, this day is celebrated to create global awareness regarding this deadly disease, in order to discuss its complications and prevention.
This year, the theme was ‘family and diabetes.’ Basically, it was about creating consciousness on how diabetes not only affects an individual, but the whole family. Family also plays an important role in the management, prevention and taking care of a diabetic individual.
Diabetes is caused due to increased sugar intake of food, which the body isn’t able to handle. This is partially correct, but we also need to understand that diabetes is not just about sugar levels, insulin, and a high sugar intake for a short period, but it’s a cumulative effect of everything, and if not taken care of — it gradually takes over all our vital organs and their functions. We need to make sure that we are mindful of what we are eating, to make sure it doesn’t affect our sugar levels.
There are many people with Type 1 diabetes, that is, they are born with the disorder, so we can’t claim it to be reversible. But for individuals where lifestyle is the root cause of diabetes, we can reverse it, and keep one’s sugar levels in control. This is possible if one has faith in the intelligence and brilliance of the human body to heal itself.
Let’s look at diabetes very closely. It involves a hormone known as insulin. We think that insulin’s only function in our body is to lower sugars, but it has innumerable other functions — from storing to using fat and energy in the right way, among other things. So, if the focus from insulin is shifted, what actually causes the increased sugar levels or Type 2 diabetes, to be precise?
Now, it’s said that breads causes diabetes, but is that true? Many people grew up eating white bread in the form of pav or multigrain breads. But we have many elderly people still having that, and being healthy, without diabetes. It’s not the bread, but the lifestyle that is responsible. We have become more sedentary when compared to our parents or elders, and we reach out for comfort food. More processed food and junk has taken the place of all the healthy and balanced meals that we were eating when we were children. We should focus on a complete makeover of our lifestyles and get back to our roots, to the foods that we all have eaten while growing up. So, we need to understand that it’s not the bread that is making us sick, but overdoing it can surely be harmful.
The way flours are processed these days is a big hoax. Maida comes from wheat, wherein the kernel, bran and the wheat germ is lost while processing — these are what have all the fibre, minerals and vitamins. After this, you get wheat flour, which is further processed with chemicals like bleach and other things that mess up our pancreatic functions. The pancreas produces insulin in our body, and if it doesn’t function well, the insulin production is hampered, and we end up having high sugar levels.
You can take medicines or insulin to keep it under control, but what is going to help you more than anything else, is avoiding the foods that are destroying your pancreas. Avoid white processed bread, white processed sugar and white processed salt, because all of these use chemicals very similar to chlorine bleach.
A sedentary lifestyle and obesity is the root cause of all health-related problems, and this is often associated with hyperinsulinemia (increased insulin in blood), which automatically decreases insulin receptors, making our body insulin-resistant. Since the cells become insulin resistant, they can’t uptake glucose, and thus, the blood glucose level starts rising, causing hyper-glycaemia.
If this is not taken care of, then it will turn into diabetes. Too much insulin in the blood also decreases
the excretion of sodium by the kidneys. That means, the sodium that is not excreted will stack up in the blood, and it will also absorb more water. Too much water retention causes edema. This will put pressure on your heart, causing increased blood pressure, and ultimately, resulting in hypertension.
This is just the beginning, and there are many more topics to be studied in detail to understand the side effects on other parts of the body.
Next week, we shall look into a few food options and healthy tips to keep your sugar levels in check.
(The writer is a clinical nutritionist with a focus on healthy lifestyle choices.)