Diabetes: Prevention through healthy lifestyle
World Diabetes Day is celebrated on November 14 each year to raise awareness about health threats posed by diabetes. With 69 million diabetics and 1 million deaths due to diabetes in 2015, India is aptly called the diabetes capital of the world. According to World Health Organisation, the number of diabetics (want to know more about diabetes: What is diabetes?) in India are further expected to increase to 80 million by 2030. In spite of its wide prevalence, the level of awareness regarding this disease is abysmally low and many people do not even consider diabetes to be a deadly disease. This is evident from the fact that around 35 million diabetes cases in India are currently undiagnosed and 77 million people are pre-diabetic.
Is diabetes preventable?
While type 1 diabetes mellitus is not preventable, type 2 diabetes is often preventable. Out of all diabetics, 90% suffer from type 2 diabetes. However, the sad part is that people start taking type 2 diabetes seriously only once they have crossed prevention stage and have been put on medicines/insulin by their doctors. Further, some people believe that diabetes is genetic and hence make no effort to prevent it. While it is true that genes influence onset of type 2 diabetes, but their impact can be totally offset by simple lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes
We recommend you to adopt the following simple lifestyle changes as these have been found helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes.
- Choose healthy food - As an obese person is seven times more at risk of developing diabetes, managing weight is one of the keys to prevent diabetes. To manage your weight and sugar level, avoid foods which are high in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt. Try and consume more of green vegetables, whole grains, brown rice and dried beans. Give a miss to outside meals & processed foods and increase your water intake.
- Exercise regularly - Try and workout for at least 30 minutes each day. In case hitting the gym is not your cup of tea, brisk walks, yoga sessions and moderate cardio sessions are equally effective. Exercising will not only help in managing weight but will also aid in reducing blood sugar levels as it improves muscles ability to use insulin and absorb glucose.
- Quit smoking and limit your drinking - As smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes, quitting smoking is an integral part of diabetes prevention. Further, while having 2 drinks a day (for men) and 1 drink (for women) is acceptable, too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
- Get yourself tested regularly - As a practise, get a full body preventive checkup every six months including your sugar and HbA1c levels. These check ups not only help in diagnosing diabetes / pre-diabetes at an early stage but will also help in analysing the impact of elevated sugar level on all your organs including kidney, liver, heart, eyes and feet.
The way forward
We need to understand that type 2 diabetes can be prevented and managed by making necessary lifestyle and dietary changes. Further, it should also be well understood that diabetes is a life long disease and its management is an expensive affair. Hence, it makes even economic sense for us to take diabetes prevention seriously to avoid huge financial burden in future.
By making the above mentioned small changes in our lifestyle, we hope all of you can prevent diabetes and lead a more fulfilling life.