Diet Queries About Diabetes
Most people are unaware that their eating habits are harmful. They eat what they like and consider any advice to change their eating pattern as sheer nonsense – until struck by disease.
Recently, the shocking statistics on diabetes revealed in a magazine has sent a barrage of enquiries into my office. The statistics revealed that 20% of the world’s diabetics are Indians. 30% of diabetics in urban India are below the age of 40 and that by 2025, WHO has estimated that India would have the highest number of diabetics followed by China so I thought it best to address the problem in my column.
Q. A lot of my diabetic friends take methi seeds. How can methi help me to control blood glucose ?
A. Methi has been used since ancient times for managing diabetes and cholesterol. It is rich in fibre and clinical tests (on animals) show that it can bring down blood glucose and cholesterol. It also helps to improve digestion and reduces phelgm. One teaspoon of methi seed powder taken twice a day before meals for a month may help reduce blood glucose levels in some diabetics. If you are on diabetic medication, you may be able to reduce drug dosage in about a month after checking with your physician. We have been able to control blood sugar at our centres successfully by using methiseed powder in combination with other herbs and diet modification, as diabetes is a nutritionally treatable condition.
Q. Do I have to become a vegetarian for better blood sugar control?
A. Not necessarily, as vegetarians tend to consume a lot more carbohydrates than non-vegetarians. Their diet consist of bread, pasta, chappatis, rice, dals etc. which increase the need for insulin. However, a vegetarian diet can be of tremendous benefit to a diabetic if modified with higher fiber, protein and increased vegetable intake. Vegetables provide antioxidants that reduce free radical activity which is highly pronounced in a diabetic. Raw and partially cooked vegetables contain enzymes that are needed for digestion, absorption and almost every chemical activity in the body. They are rich in phyto nutrients which are biologically active and extremely beneficial in preventing diabetic complications (neuropathy, nephropathy etc). Additionally, they help prevent cancer, lower cholesterol,
relieve arthritis, reduce acidity. Whether you are a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian, you can always increase intake of both cooked and raw vegetables and derive benefit. However, if you have high cholesterol along with diabetes, then it would be better for you to turn vegetarian.
Q. Diabetes runs in my family. My father is a Type II diabetic. Is there something I can follow to prevent getting diabetes?
A. You may be genetically predisposed to diabetes but you can postpone the disease depending upon your food choices and lifestyle today. Avoid maida, sugar, fruit juices, white rice, pasta, noodles, chocolates etc. Switch to brown rice, whole wheat bread, chappatis made from jowar and bajra and whole wheat instead. Eat whole fruits and drink vegetable juices. Switch to soya milk or drink low fat cows milk or curd. Increase your intake of both raw and cooked vegetables. Non-vegetarians can eat eggs, fish and chicken. Incorporate an exercise routine like a brisk walk 4-5 times a week for 30-40 minutes. Keep yourself at an ideal weight. Gaining weight would increase your risk of precipitating diabetes. Above all keep stress under control. Stress is perceived in the mind but it has very physical effects. Prolonged stress can raise cholesterol, lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. After all it is not just how you metabolize foods and burn calories that affect your weight and health. It is how you metabolize feelings, worries, decisions and emotions that make a difference to your future health.