Reverse diabetes with management

Reverse diabetes with management

Representative image. Credit: Getty images

Technology and better understanding of how blood sugar levels fluctuate in the body are leading to a paradigm shift in the treatment of diabetes. If your blood sugar level is elevated and you are in the pre-diabetic or early diabetic stage, you can take heart from the fact that a simple diet and lifestyle management regimen can reverse the condition and prevent the onset of diabetes. 

India is fast-heading towards turning into the diabetes capital of the world. Increased stress levels, sedentary lifestyles and poor diet have been the major causes of diabetes over the past two decades. It is estimated that around 75 million people in India are diabetic. India has the second-highest diabetic population in the world, with China leading with over 115 million. One in six people in the world with diabetes is in India. These are alarming figures. 

A key to understanding how your body reacts to the food you consume is in continuous monitoring of your blood sugar levels. We have the technology to do this with a simple subcutaneous chip implanted in your arm that records sugar levels. The food items that push up your sugar level and the hours in the day when it remains elevated becomes clear over a week’s recording. This enables an endocrinologist to analyse the behaviour of your pancreas and its insulin-generating capacity. This data is then used to arrive at a management regimen that is most effective.

In the past, you were put on medication without complete understanding of your physiology, merely on the basis of one test. One single fasting and postprandial blood test showing a high sugar level was enough for a prescription of a drug to bring it down. Now, with continuous monitoring possible for a better understanding of what is causing the spike in sugar level, the management has become more efficient.

If you are in the high-risk group – high stress, sedentary lifestyle, overweight or diabetic parents – it is advisable to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. At the first hint of pre-diabetes – the stage where the levels are elevated but within limits to be declared diabetes – you need to go in for continuous monitoring to detect causes and patterns. A fasting blood sugar level of 100-124 and postprandial level of 140-200 is pre-diabetes and indicates that the onset of the disease is imminent.

On detection of pre-diabetes – the stage before diabetes – a smart combination of diet and exercise can reverse the condition to prevent the onset or delay it. The data from the continuous monitoring will tell you what food groups lead to a spike in your sugar levels and also at what times through the day it is elevated. This helps an endocrinologist plan management through the combination of diet and activity. 

Excessive consumption of carbohydrates through foods made of rice such as idli and dosa leading to a spike in sugar levels will mean the pancreas has to work hard to bring it down. This stress on a weak pancreas will decrease its efficiency and lead to an earlier onset of diabetes. An understanding of the correlation between your food intake and sugar levels will help you plan your diet far more efficiently with minimum pressure on the pancreas. 

Ideally, carbohydrates should constitute 40 per cent of your diet while micronutrients, protein and fat should contribute 30, 20 and 10 per cent respectively. Here, the diet plan needs to avoid those foods that lead to a spike in your sugar levels.

An efficient management plan will prevent the need for drugs at the initial stages of diabetes. Smart management with lifestyle will strengthen the pancreas and keep diabetes at bay, without the need for medication.

Exercise is a must

Any form of cardio exercise burns blood sugar. It also tones the muscles that in turn draw sugar from the blood. This is a natural method of bringing down the sugar level. Yoga is known to cut the stress level as well as build the body’s metabolism. All this combines to manage sugar level.

Smart management can reverse the condition of elevated sugar levels and prevent the onset of diabetes. 

(The writer is an endocrinologist)