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Beat diabetes at its own game

Diabetes is medically a lifestyle disorder, which essentially means that it arises out of the way we live and the choices we make – with nutrition balance, exercise, our stress coping capacity and other habits.

brunch Updated: Nov 17, 2012 16:20 IST
Dr Shikha Sharma

Diabetes is medically a lifestyle disorder, which essentially means that it arises out of the way we live and the choices we make – with nutrition balance, exercise, our stress coping capacity and other habits. It can be scary to hear about, but the good news is that diabetes is one of the few disorders that is most responsive to improvement if you make small changes in your diet and lifestyle. To make sure your blood sugar levels don’t control your entire life, there are several practical tips to follow.

Say no to sugar

Forever fibre: All fibres like oat bran and wheat bran are good for diabetics

Blood sugar is most affected by the kind of foods we eat. The most obvious cause is eating foods that cause your own blood sugar levels to shoot up. If you consume foods that take time to convert to sugar, then the body is better able to maintain its insulin levels. The foods which convert to sugar rapidly in the body include all refined foods – flours like rice flour, cornflour, maida and sooji, refined sugar, sweetened fruit juices, bread, white flour noodles, potatoes, arrowroot and biscuits, sweet fruits, bakery foods and ready-to-eat items.

Say yes to fibre

For diabetics, the best bets are foods in their original form that have their natural fibre intact. These include broken wheat (dalia), whole grains, dals that have their skin still on, all types of fibrous grains, especially jowar and bajra. And those with high blood sugar needn’t shun all fruits. Papaya and sweet lime are the safest to eat, though most other fruits can be eaten in moderation. Just avoid the too-sweet fruits like banana, chikoo, musk melon and grapes. All fibres like oat bran, wheat bran and isabgol are good for diabetics.

All vegetables, apart from arbi and potato, are good too. Green leafy vegetables are particularly good for those with sugar concerns. Among the nuts and oilseeds, most deliver nutrients without much harm. Flaxseeds are a particularly good source of omega acids, while almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are healthy as well as tasty.

Research has shown that diabetics need chromium which is good for insulin production. Nuts and seeds are a good source of chromium.

Say yes please to special foods

Diabetes is a condition of an imbalance in the metabolic process, therefore it is essential to strengthen the liver as much as possible. To detoxify and strengthen the liver, it helps to consume herbs that are very good for detoxification. Choose aloe vera, which can be taken as 20ml diluted with water daily. Or amla juice (one can either eat one amla a day or one teaspoon of amla juice mixed with water in the morning). Cinnamon bark is good too. Crush a cinnamon stick and boil in water till the water changes colour. Consume two cups daily.

Smooth operator: You can control diabetes if you improve your stress-coping abilities

Among other herbs, ginger is excellent for those who have adult onset diabetes. Drink a ginger infusion twice a day. Or turn to triphala – one teaspoon every night balances the vitiated

pitta dosha

very well. And approximately half a teaspoon of crushed jamun seed powder consumed daily with water works wonders too.

The bitter flavour of karela may not be to everyone’s taste, but the fresh juice of the raw fruit, diluted in water, goes a long way to balance the sugar levels.

Nothing however, helps more than just drinking enough water to detox and cleanse. To maintain blood sugar, drink nine glasses of water (make sure three of those are lukewarm) in addition to your other dietary choices and supplements. And this advice is great not just for those who are battling sugar on a daily basis but those who have other issues like weight too.

Say no to stress

Diabetics, particularly those who are not overweight, can really control their condition if they improve their stress-coping abilities. Many have found great help in music therapy. Listening to mantras, bhajans or just calming sounds lowers the heart rate, cools you down and improves the nervous system’s ability to manage stress. Working prayer beads also keeps the body in a smoother rhythm.

Exercise your stress away: Yoga is the best way to deal with any stress

Yoga seems to be the most effective stress buster of them all. Pranayam, anulom, vilom or naadi shodhan, and exercises which stimulate the manipur chakra are the most beneficial for stress level reduction. Both yoga and exercise help improve the levels of endorphins in the body, which calm the nerves and heal the system.

You can also try water therapy. Dip your feet in warm water, run a tub bath or have a warm hip bath to improve the circulation of blocked energy. Ayurvedic therapies are specially beneficial for stressed-out diabetics. Abhayanga (a medicated oil massage), shirodhara (in which oil is gently trickled on the forehead on the ajna chakra), medicated enemas and mild laxatives all help coax the toxins from the body help the borderline diabetic to detoxify.

Say yes to exercise

Low impact activities such as yoga, tai chi and brisk walking not only keep the body active, they burn off excess energy, help to calm the nerves and allow the unhindered flow of energy throughout the body – all you need to stay fit despite diabetes.

From HT Brunch, November 18

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