Life with diabetes

Diabetes doesn’t mean the end of the world. Celebrities like Halle Berry, Kamal Hasan and Wasim Akram have shown that all you need is a healthy lifestyle and the right attitude to fight diabetes

By Zoha Tapia

Diabetes is a chronic lifestyle disease, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dealt with successfully. You could be diabetic and still live a healthy and normal life. All you need to bear in mind are a few lifestyle precautions.

Considering Indians are genetically predisposed to diabetes due to a sedentary lifestyle, excessive junk food consumption and celebrations with sweets, carbohydrates and fats, these lifestyle changes may just make you live a healthier and fuller life than most people.  Regular physical activities and choosing food wisely can not only prevent diabetes but also help live a healthier life.

Dietary changes
Dr Mahesh S, senior consultant, endocrinology, Apollo Hospitals says, “The more common type of diabetes worldwide, but more so in India, is the type of diabetes that comes on due to consumption of food extremely high in calories.”

Calories in our food are derived from carbohydrates and fats; proteins do not contribute to calories. As majority of Indian foods are carbohydrate based with liberal use of oil or ghee, the risk of diabetes is very high among Indians. “Once consumed calories need to be used or expended; if not it gets converted to fat and gets accumulated in specific parts of the body as also in organs like the liver. This leads to damage to the way insulin is secreted and utilised in the body, which leads to diabetes.” One should cut down on alcohol as it is nothing but fermented sugar or molasses. 

Controlling the sweet tooth
It is usually found that a person with a sweet tooth is more likely to develop diabetes. This is noticed even in patients who are not diagnosed as diabetics today fall in the pre-diabetes category. It has been scientifically proven that every diabetic harbours changes that will make him diabetic almost eight years before the diagnosis.

“This is because the body is trying to produce increased amounts of insulin to combat sugar levels. They can be diagnosed by hyper-insulinemia - high requirement of insulin levels to keep blood sugar levels normal is the diagnostic sign for pre-diabetes. This hyper-insulinemia makes the person eat a lot, he/she can’t control hunger. The control of Insulin Resistance is the most important factor to help them practise a proper lifestyle,” says Dr Jayshree Todkar, obesity and diabetes centre, Kohinoor Hospital.

Being physically active
With diabetes, it becomes more imperative for you to control your weight and stay physically active. Physical activity lowers the blood sugar and boosts your sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar within a normal range. With the doctor's permission, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. If you can’t fit in a long workout, break it up into smaller sessions spread throughout the day.
Lifestyle changes
In a nutshell Dr Mahesh gives us a few thumb rules that diabetics must follow.

  • Lead a disciplined life – remember it is your life!
  • Increase the proportion of proteins and decrease the proportion of carbohydrate and fats
  • Ensure that fresh green vegetables form a substantial portion of your food.
  • Avoid eating high calorie foods like pizzas, burgers etc, topped by 500ml aerated sugary drinks
  • Ensure maximal physical activity.
  • Stop smoking
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Dr Rishma Pai


She is a consultant gynaecologist at Jaslok and Lilavati Hospital.

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