Diabetes is a lifelong disease caused by high sugar level in the blood. This happens because the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin, or the body is not using it correctly .Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its main function is to transport the glucose from the blood into the cells where it is used for energy. However if there isn’t sufficient insulin the glucose builds up in the blood.
There are two types of diabetes:
1. Type I diabetes
The cause for this is still unknown but in most people it is an outcome of destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas by our own immune system. Type I diabetes often develops in children, with a positive family history of a sibling or parent with diabetes. Certain viral infections like mumps, rotavirus or coxsakie virus B and cold climate may precipitate this to.
Where insulin is present but is not sufficient or is unable to work efficiently. The common risk factors for women are:
• Overweight or obesity (BMI of 25 or above),
• Older age of 45 and above. After menopause women are at a greater risk of obesity and higher waist circumference ,increasing the risk of Diabetes
• Family history-parent or sibling with diabetes
• Ethnicity-Indians are at a greater risk of DM2
• Giving birth to a baby of 9 pounds or above
• Presence of diabetes during pregnancy
• High blood pressure with medication
• Low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
• Suffering from polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD)
• History of heart disease or stroke
High sugar levels have a detrimental effect on the blood vessels and nerves. Nerve damage can lead to pain or loss of sensation in the affected area. Blood vessel damage can lead to heart diseases, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, amputation, hearing loss, problems in conceiving and during pregnancy, and repeated urinary and vaginal infections
Are you at a risk?
India has the dubious distinction for being the diabetes capital of the world. Though we as a population are genetically prone to diabetes, rapid urbanization, poor diet and exercise, obesity are the main causes for this epidemic. Women are as prone to diabetes as men, but women are less likely to seek and follow medical advice and treatment for themselves.
Prevention they say is better than cure: You just need to follow 3 simple rule to protect yourself against diabetes
1. Weight Management
The number one risk factor for the onset of diabetes is overweight. More fatty tissues in the body make it resistant to the action of insulin. Furthermore, the apple shaped body, where there is fat accumulation around the abdomen predisposing you to a higher risk of diabetes. Shed those extra kilos. In a study participants who lost about 7% of their weight improved their risk of not getting diabetes by 60%. Fad diets aren’t the answer, you may lose some weight initially but will it stay off? Eat healthy and exercise regularly, the only way to maintain weight without compromising on your health.
Simple tricks to help you eat less are-
• A smaller bowl or plate
• Use a tea spoon or child fork to eat smaller bites
• Eat slowly, chew your food well , it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that the stomach is full
• Do not eat in front of the TV
• Drink a large glass of water 10 minutes before your meal
• Fill your plate like this- 1/4th protein, 1/4th whole grain, ½ vegetable and fruit with some skimmed dairy
2. Eat: healthy
• Whole grains protect against diabetes. In the Nurses’ health study I and II which followed 160,000 women over 18 years, researchers found that women who ate two to three servings of whole grains reduced their risk of diabetes by 30%. Indian diets are based on whole grain cereals, find a chakki and get fresh whole grain atta, it will not only be beneficial for you but your entire family. Barley, steel cut oats, hand pounded rice, brown and red rice are other good choices.
• Instead of drinking juices, eat whole fruits. In the same nurses study II women who drank 1or more sweetened drink increased their risk of diabetes by 83%. Sugary drinks may contribute to chronic inflammation, high triglycerides decreased HDL (good cholesterol) and insulin resistance. Our traditional chaas, nimbu pani, bael sharbat, aam panna, all taste fabulous without sugar. Fresh coconut water, plain water, sugar free green tea and coffee are all good choices.
• Good fats like poly unsaturated oils from vegetable sources, nuts, seeds, protect against diabetes. Trans fats usually found in packed bakery goods, street foods, fast food restaurants can play havoc with your health. Any label that reads partially hydrogenated oil should be put away. Look for the amount of Trans fat on the label while buying ready to eat and ready to cook foods.
• Evidence from the Nurses study I and II , Health professionals follow up study and another 6 long term studies highlighted the substitution of red and processed meat with fish , poultry low fat milk and nuts decreased the risk of diabetes by 35%
All these points highlight that our traditional eating practises are the healthiest, we just need to re learn them.
3. Move your body
Being active helps you control your weight as well as improves insulin sensitivity.
• Get active, start with 30 minutes a day for 5 days of the week. Walking is the easiest form of activity start and then you can try other forms of exercise.
• Put on the radio and dance away your calories. Make your family join in for a fun filled jam session at home.
• Download an exercise video and follow it
• At office, walk for your water, to deliver a message, to catch up with a colleague
• Walk to the market if safe instead of taking a car.
The benefits of even moderate exercise are humungous .Start today.
Preventing Diabetes is about making healthy choices for life, as the lady of the house you can create an environment where everyone benefits. You do not need to do anything separately, do it for the whole family.
Remember you are the pivot of the family and taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of others.
Happy Women’s Day