Diabetes cases are rising at an alarming rate across the globe. Indians especially being predisposed to diabetes tend to develop the metabolic disorder at a younger age as compared to rest of the populations. The good news is that diabetes risk can be curtailed to a huge extent with lifestyle modifications. If you are leading an active lifestyle and consuming a balanced diet while staying away from junk food, deep-fried stuff, sugar-laden treats, refined flour, you can avoid getting the disease. Also, stress is one of the lifestyle factors that could be raising your risk of diabetes and it’s imperative to adopt practices that can help you manage it.
“It is not unknown to us that India is fast becoming the global diabetes capital. Not only are the number of patients with diabetes rising but also it is striking at a much younger age and sometimes without significant symptoms. There are many factors responsible for this epidemiological change. While genetics plays a very important role in the development of diabetes and it is known that the risk of development of diabetes in the offspring is more that 50% if parents are diabetic but the good news is that 90% of this can be controlled with good diet and lifestyle habits,” says Dr Vineeta Taneja, Director – Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
How diabetes can be damaging to health?
“Adults who suffer from diabetes generally have insulin resistance at the onset of diabetes. When there isn’t enough insulin or there is insulin resistance , glucose (sugar) can’t get into your cells and they can’t produce energy to perform various activities . The sugar levels instead build up in your bloodstream, damage many areas of the body and the excess sugar gets stored in the body as fat leading to obesity,” says Dr Tushar Tayal, Consultant- Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram.
Lifestyle habits that make you more vulnerable to diabetes as revealed by Dr Taneja and Dr Tayal:
If you are not eating mindfully and going overboard on food items prepared with white flour, junk foods, refined carbs, carbonated drinks, sugar-rich processed foods, this can significantly increase risk of diabetes. This practice can lead to obesity which is one of the strongest risk factors for diabetes. This can lead to excess body fat especially around the abdomen which increases insulin resistance and raises blood sugar levels.
Sitting too much and not moving your body
The majority of those belonging to working population are employed in jobs which have erratic work timings and entail sitting for long hours. Inactive lifestyle coupled with unhealthy eating habits, poor sleep and high stress can increase the level of stress hormones cortisol and vasopressin in our body. All these factors are the foundation of diabetes. Regular simple exercise of any kind like walking, running, yoga, aerobics at least of five days a week will help burn calories and improves insulin sensitivity.
Eating refined carbs
Food items such as maida and refined sugar are the biggest culprits in promoting obesity and diabetes. Since refined sugar and maida are already digested forms of carbohydrates, they get rapidly absorbed into our blood stream and cause a sugar spike, which promotes erratic release of high amounts of insulin. In comparison if we eat complex carbs, they are digested slowly and the sugar levels in our blood rise slowly and the insulin secretion is more physiological
Smoking whether in the form of cigarettes, bidi, hookah or vaping is extremely detrimental to a person’s health because the smoke contains a lot of hazardous chemicals and carcinogens which affect each and every organ of the body and can increase the chances of diabetes. It can also lead to insulin resistance and impair production and utilisation of insulin in the body.
If you are leading a high-stress lifestyle and are not finding ways to handle your stress well, it could affect your blood sugar levels and contribute to the development of diabetes.
It’s important to note that making positive changes to these lifestyle habits can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. People with a family history of diabetes should plan regular medical check-ups from the age of 45 years.
Excess alcohol intake
Liver is the detoxifying and sugar-stabilising organ of the body. Excess alcohol can damage the liver which can cause sugar imbalance in the body. Also, alcohol is basically empty calorie without any nutritional benefit. This promotes obesity and diabetes.
Some lifestyle measures that can be taken to control diabetes are:
- Weight loss. Losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can help lower HBA1c and improve insulin resistance
- Healthy diet: Having a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables
- Physical activity: Approximately 30 minutes of brisk cardio exercise daily
- Better sleep
- Drinking alcohol in moderation and quitting smoking completely