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Smoking and diabetes

If you are a diabetic, you are aware that your body has an inability to control blood glucose and that you need to stay away from foods with high glycemic index (simple carbohydrates).

health and fitness Updated: Feb 05, 2009 16:16 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

If you are a diabetic, you are aware that your body has an inability to control blood glucose and that you need to stay away from foods with high glycemic index (simple carbohydrates).

You also need to avoid smoking cigarettes and consuming tobacco as recent research has shown that these can double the damage diabetes causes to the body by making the arteries harden. Smoking poses many dangers to your health in itself, but for a diabetic, it dramatically increases the risk of heart- related problems, kidney disease, eye complaints (retinopathy) and other complications.

Research has also shown that smokers have a 44 per cent higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. The risk is linked to the degree of smoking and not whether you smoke cigars, cigarettes or pipes. The risk increases with each cigarette you smoke and heavy smokers (who smoke at least 20 cigarettes daily) have been shown to have a 61 per cent higher risk.

Smoking has been shown to result in increased albuminuria (blood protein in the urine), higher risk of nerve damage (neuropathy), and delayed wound healing in diabetic patients.

Effects of smoking on
diabetics:
It suppresses the immune system

It hardens the arteries and leads to high blood pressure. It increases the risk of death by 70 per cent.

It cause a deficiency in vitamin C. Therefore smokers should consume a minimum of 500 mg of vitamin C in supplemental and natural form.

It increases the production of stress hormones (cortisol), which interferes with the release of cerotonin (the calming neuro transmitter), which in turn can lead to depression.

It can lead to the formation of kidney stones (because it increases the level of cadmium and lead in the blood)
Becoming nicotine free

The following dietary guidelines could help you:
The best and most effective way to quit smoking is to take a firm decision and stop smoking completely. The success rate for those who make such a bold move is much higher than for those who try other methods.

You can start by replenishing your intake of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin A, C and E and selenium, which abounds in fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and vegetables that have high water content as these help to even out the drying effects of nicotine and caffeine.

Increase the fibre content in your diet as this helps eliminate toxins. Opt for a high-fibre diet comprising of foods such as wheat bran, whole pulses, jowar, bajra, fruits and vegetables that will provide you with the necessary bulk to prevent constipation.

An alkaline diet that includes herbal teas, sprouted grains, leafy vegetables and soups is particularly helpful when you’re trying to quit smoking because it helps reduce the urge to smoke and quells the craving for sweets.

Include raw salads, nuts such as almonds and peanuts and the juices of leafy vegetables like spinach, mint, coriander and lettuce in your daily diet. These foods detoxify the body and make withdrawal symptoms more tolerable.

Addictions touch almost every person’s life. These hard-to-kick habits often have to do with your social and cultural upbringing. We lean on them to deal with stressful situations. When you kick your addiction or consider taking a ‘break’ from your smoking habit, you will begin to serve your body better, live life to its best potential and experience improved health. Remember, the rewards always outweigh the discomforts.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre