I am a lifestyle enthusiast. I believe that with few positive changes in lifestyle we can improve the quality of our life and health.
World Diabetes Day
November 14 was named the World Diabetes Day in 1991 by The International diabetes federation with support from the World Health Organization, in order to spread awareness about the health and economic threat posed by diabetes. It is also the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting who along with Charles Herbert Best discovered the Insulin Hormone. In the year 2006, it became an official UN day.
In recent times, hospitals have seen patients as young as 8 and 12 being diagnosed with diabetes. Also due to the pandemic, children are stuck indoors and are exposed to more screen time. The lack of physical activity has led to obesity in children.
When people with diabetes go untreated or not sufficiently treated, they are at risk of serious and life-threatening complications like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye problems and lower limb afflictions. People with diabetes require ongoing care, and support to manage the condition and avoid complications.
But the good news is that it can be controlled with a few healthy lifestyle modifications. Healthy eating, weight loss and regular physical activity help in reducing the complications associated with the disorder.
The major impediment to addressing this health issue is the late diagnosis. Increased thirst and losing weight are the major red flags. Other symptoms are increased levels of urination, lethargy among children and adolescents, and increased incidence of urinary tract infections. Sometimes there may be no symptoms.
While type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where children are dependent on insulin, as the pancreas produce little or no insulin. type 2 is insulin resistance and is seen in obese people with a family history of diabetes. Most diabetes cases are type 2 which is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses glucose as a fuel. Delayed diagnosis can lead to ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition.
Lifestyle changes, regular physical activity, a healthy diet help in control of diabetes. A diet which includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low fat milk, light fibers are recommended.
The most common type of juvenile diabetes is Type 1 diabetes which requires lifelong insulin injections. But there are other types of diabetes in children which respond well to treatment. Making timely and correct diagnosis will help the children in their fight against the disease.
The different types of diabetes in children are:
- Type 1 diabetes which occurs due to complete destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. The child is dependent on lifelong insulin injections for survival.
- Type 2 is seen more in overweight and obese children. However, it can be controlled with diet, exercise and medicines
- Monogenic diabetes: this is a rare group of diabetes disorders which occur due to a genetic defect in the beta cell. The most frequent type is called Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY). There are several subtypes of MODY and can be diagnosed with genetic testing. Medicines are effective in treating MODY
Management of Diabetes in Children
The child must be made aware of his condition as significant lifestyle changes are needed. The child needs to take the initiative of leading a healthy life in order to control the disorder. Extensive counselling sessions to educate the child are useful. Parents themselves need in depth knowledge about the disease and its management to be able to guide their child.
They should know that diabetes does not mean the end of the world. With a little effort and good lifestyle habits, they can lead healthy and productive lives. Parents should answer all the questions patiently to the child. Anxiety issues with regard to the disorder should be addressed. Parents must ensure more physical activity like cycling, jogging, running as obesity increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart diseases.
Covid and Diabetes
A trend has been observed in hospitals here, where people in the age group of 30-40 have shown symptoms of diabetes and all of them have recovered from Covid 19. Some experienced extreme fatigue while some had eye related problems, only to know later that they were living with undiagnosed diabetes.
Compared to the pre-pandemic era, youngsters seeking treatment for diabetes has gone up. They have all recovered from Covid 19. It is not yet known whether this infection has been a contributing factor.
The virus seems to have affected the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin causing inflammation and impairing the production of insulin resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. It is believed that overuse of steroids during the treatment may also have led to diabetes in many cases. In general, it seems that covid has led to a substantial risk of diabetes.
However there seem to be several unanswered questions on the new onset of diabetes post covid. More studies need to be done to come to a ascertain the relation between the two. Lockdown induced weight gain, lack of physical activity, addiction to junk food could be contributing factors feel many doctors.
Increasing Incidence of Diabetes
Many doctors are of the opinion that irrespective of the pandemic, diabetes cases are increasing every decade. Rapid urbanization, lifestyle modifications are the main causes for the increased incidence in diabetes. Type 2 diabetes comprises around 90 percent of the cases in the world and can be attributed to lifestyle issues like excess weight, sedentary lifestyle.
Moreover, a history of diabetes in the family and people with metabolic disorder syndrome (a cluster of problems including high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDL, high LDL, and high blood pressure.) are also at a higher risk. But the silver lining to this growing concern is that a large proportion of this type 2 diabetes can be controlled and also prevented by simple lifestyle modifications and regular monitoring.
The first and foremost thing to pay attention to in this regard is to maintain a normal BMI and engage in regular physical exercise. Eating a moderate and healthy diet can further reduce the risk of diabetes. Doctors opine that for those with a family history of diabetes and who are overweight, screening for T2D should be started at the age of 25. BMI and waist circumference can be used as simple tools to assess the risk of diabetes.
No doubt diabetes causes a huge burden on the health and economy of the patients. The numerous blood tests, the appointment with doctors, the injections and medicines, restricted diet can cause frustration to anyone. But the sooner one accepts the situation, the easier it is to deal with and manage the disorder. It is one disease which needs lifestyle management more than medicines. Here are some of the aspects to bring in positivity:
- Change of Attitude: There are instances of people who have reversed the disease with lifestyle modifications and regular monitoring. Being diagnosed with this disorder is not so ominous. It is in one’s hand to consider it surmountable and make the necessary changes and have the will power to overcome it.
- Learning to Live with it: It is easier when one accepts it as a part of life like getting ready for office or facing the traffic every day. Acceptance increases the ability to manage the disorder.
- Motivational Activities: We can consider it as a blessing in disguise and involve in healthy lifestyle activities like going for morning walks, swimming, joining a health club. We can also make new friends in the group activities and improve our social life.
- Pranayama or Breathing Exercises: Breathing exercises like Kapalbhati, Agnisaara Kriya, Anulom-Vilom pranayama are known to have immense benefit in controlling diabetes. We can join a yoga center and practice the same with likeminded friends.
- Rule of 30: A strict diet is surely best and recommended. But on special occasion like functions and parties, one may be forced to indulge in the festive spirit. On such occasions, exercise is a great way to get back on track.
- By following the rule of 30 where we exercise or indulge in any physical intensive activity for at least 30 minutes a day, we can manage a regular exercise plan. We can choose sports tennis, or badminton or an enjoyable dance form like Zumba, aerobics, yoga, Pilates so that we can have a whole week of enjoyable exercise schedule which will help regulate blood sugar.
Eating right is the mantra for a diabetic patient. And when they are on insulin or other oral medication, it is important that they maintain a balanced diet. According to experts, a person should have whole foods rather than processed ones and their meals should have a proper combination of protein, fats and fiber.
Incorporation of low release carbs like beans, peas, oatmeal, lentils, whole mild and plain yogurt in diet is important as they have major impact on blood glucose levels. They should consume 5-6 small sized meals to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Choose whole grains and high fiber foods, advise doctors.
The Right Food
While fruits should form an important part of diabetic diet, some fruits like mango and grapes should be avoided. Medical practitioners say that fruits like apples, berries, peaches, pears and plums are beneficial for diabetics as they are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and fiber.
Expert dieticians are of the opinion that increasing the intake of high fiber foods or fiber supplements, particularly of the soluble type offer multiple benefits like satiety, sustained blood sugar levels, reduction in cholesterol, and weight management. Fiber-rich diet nutrition and a gradual step-up of fiber intake up to 25-40g per day may help people in controlling their blood glucose levels.
Five Best Fruits for Diabetics
- Apple: Rich in soluble fibers, niacin, zinc, iron and other minerals, is best suited for people with diabetes. The GI of 37 in a medium sized apple, does not increase the blood sugar level fast.
- Pears: pears are a good source of vitamin C, with a glycemic index of 4. They are also a rich source of fiber.
- Guava: rich source of vitamin C, contains soluble fibers, which helps to control blood sugars levels. It has glycemic index of 4. It is an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients best suited for a diabetic patient.
- Pomegranate: It is rich in phytonutrients, tannin, and gallic acid that control type 2 diabetes. But diabetics need to have controlled portion of pomegranate juice because of its natural sugar content.
- Jamun or Java plum or Indian blackberry: Jambolin present in the seeds of this fruit is known to have anti-diabetic properties. The powder of jamun seeds is used in Ayurvedic medicine to control diabetes.
Diabetes is often misunderstood and a lot of myths are associated with it. But the fact is that there is no shortcut to good health. At least thirty minutes of exercise daily, following a healthy diet, having a positive outlook on life is the best way to beat diabetes.
The same applies to all those who aspire for a healthy life and avoid this dreaded disease. Because as the saying goes ’Prevention is better than cure’. Learning about diabetes, taking steps to prevent and actively participating in its treatment and spreading awareness in society is the resolve we need to take on this World Diabetes Day.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 VIDYA D SAGAR