India is the diabetes capital of the world!
Finally, our country is a world leader in some aspect. Not a great achievement by any standards, in this case! It seems like it would be the fate of every third Indian to be afflicted with diabetes before the age of 40.
WHAT IS DIABETES
Also known as diabetes mellitus, it is a chronic disease which results in high levels of sugar in the blood. A few years ago, diabetes was considered to be a disease of the old, but now it is no respecter of age…it can attack even people as young as 30.
Both my parents were diabetics and it only seemed natural that I too would become one. I was terrified to be sentenced for life, where I would need to deny myself the good things I loved to eat and do. I could not imagine myself taking medication and injections for the rest of my life, because all doctors say this of diabetes: once a patient, always a patient!
This fear set me on a hunt to find what causes diabetes and how to prevent it. I did research, read up a lot of case histories, attended several talks and seminars.
And fortunately for me, I stumbled upon some eye-opening facts, which I want to share with you.
WHAT CAUSES DIABETES TYPE 2
Diabetes is a disease wherein, simply put, the blood sugar (blood glucose) is high.
What is normal sugar level?
Sugar in the blood is measured twice in a day to get the whole picture, once in the morning after the night fasting of 12 hours and then again two hours after a full meal.
The normal levels are fasting 70-100 mg/dL and post meal 70-140 mg/dL.
Any readings above this will lead to a diagnosis of pre-diabetes or diabetes.
There is almost always a pre-diabetic stage before the person becomes a full-blown diabetic case. The second-best time to manage this lifestyle disease is at the pre-diabetes stage. The best time is, of course, before it even occurs.
What happens when sugar level is high? The person has unexplained weight loss, is hungrier and thirstier than normal and feels like passing urine more frequently. This progresses to blurred vision, tingling of hands and feet, non-healing wounds and chronic fatigue.
If left undetected and unmanaged, it can affect every organ of the body.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are 2 kinds of diabetes: type 1 and type 2
What is type 1 diabetes?
It is also known as juvenile diabetes, because it is usually seen in children and young adults, and is due to the absence of insulin. This occurs when the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the immune system. The cause is not yet known totally, but it could be attributed to genes.
What is type 2 diabetes?
This begins when the cells in the body develop insulin resistance.
You may ask what is insulin resistance? Before that let me tell you, what is insulin.
It is the hormone that is responsible for carrying the glucose from the food we ingest, into the cells for their nourishment.
Cells develop resistance to insulin if there is too much fat in them. When this happens, the glucose is unable to enter the cell and remains in the blood vessels, thereby giving rise to high levels of sugar in the blood. And it is also passed out through the urine. This in turn leads to complications and adversely affects almost all other organs in the human body.
It is commonly believed that diabetes is hereditary, right? Wrong. Let me tell you why.
It is not your genes, but your lifestyle which determines whether you will get diabetes type 2 or not.
WHAT TO DO WHEN BLOOD SUGAR IS HIGH
One of the most dreaded lifestyle diseases can be managed by diet alone.
Surprisingly, the main cause of diabetes is not sugar. It is excess fat. When the body has too much fat, it gives rise to insulin resistance.
Therefore, the obvious solution to this is to reduce fat. Isn’t it?
Easier said than done. A conventional diet, especially that which includes meat and eggs, has an excess of fat.
Would this mean that pure vegetarians would not get diabetes? That would be a wrong interpretation. If your diet includes dairy and its products, you would be consuming as much fat as a non-vegetarian.
What foods to avoid with diabetes? If you eliminate all sources of fat like refined oil and animal products, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy, half the battle is won.
Eating a whole plant-based diet, with alternatives for all the harmful animal source ingredients, is the best thing you can do for yourself. This would ward off, not only diabetes, but a whole horde of other lifestyle diseases too.
But eliminating all your favourite foods would seem daunting at first. However, it just needs a mindset shift and you will be good to go to conquer your health.
Indian diet has been traditionally vegetarian for the longest time. Even in the predominantly non-vegetarian areas, there would have been days in the week when abstinence from meat and fish would have been practiced. And people not only survived, they thrived!
So instead of a few days a week, you need to make this abstinence every day of the week. How you reach that level is up to you. You can do it all at once or take baby steps.
The other part of the battle against diabetes is reducing stress, exercising and getting good quality sleep.
As soon as I found out this simple truth, I shifted to a plant-based diet. I have not only reversed my pre-diabetes but have also benefited in a wholesome way, physically and mentally.
In short, I have shown you how diabetes type 2 can be prevented and managed by eating only plant-based food, by removing all such products that are sourced from animals.
Are you ready to take charge of your health now? Have you overcome your fears of diabetes? Now you know what happens when sugar is high and how easy it is to overcome it.
Remember, it is all in the hands that feed the mouth.
Your health is your choice. As much as what goes in your mouth is.
Make the right choice.