Diabetes, the bitter sweet problem of India
  • More By Author
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Sunday, November 15, 2009, 09:09
Diabetes, the bitter sweet problem of IndiaSmita Mishra

In a shocking revelation, the 20th annual World Diabetes Congress of the International Diabetic Federation has said that India leads the world in the looming epidemic of diabetes. The country currently has the highest number of 50.8 million people suffering from diabetes, followed by China with 43.2 million and the US with 26.8 million. By 2010 almost seven percent of India’s adult population will have the disease.

Evidence shows that in more affluent parts of the country, the prevalence of diabetes is higher in comparison to rural and less affluent areas. The increase in economic status has been linked with the disease. No wonder sedentary lifestyle, intake of polished and processed foods and trans oils and stress have been attributed as the causes behind this silent killer.

It is actually not a fatal disease and those who suffer from it have nothing to fear so long as they are able to manage it. But to do so one should have an idea of what it is and how can it be kept under control.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is not a disease. It is a body condition in which either there is less production, or lack of proper response to insulin hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin is important for us because it helps cells absorb glucose for converting into energy.

Diabetes leads to accumulation of glucose in blood, the reason why it is also called blood sugar.


Broadly there are three types of diabetes, categorized on the basis of the conditions they produce.

Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 or simply diabetes:It is caused when the body is unable to produce insulin necessary to manage blood sugar.

Diabetes Mellitus Type 2: This results from insulin resistance, a condition in which even though the body is producing sufficient insulin, the cells are unable to utilize it. But generally it occurs with Type 1 that is body is neither able to produce insulin properly nor utilize it.

The most common of these is diabetes insipidus in which large amounts of urine are produced (polyuria), which is not sweet (insipidus meaning "without taste" in Latin); it is generally caused by damage to either kidney or pituitary gland.

Pre-diabetes: It is a condition in which a person`s blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women with no history of diabetes. But it generally disappears after childbirth.


Fatigue: As the body is unable to use glucose, it begins metabolizing fat. In this process the body has to work harder which results in feeling fatigued and tired.

Rapid weight loss: Unable to process the whole of calories in foods, loss of sugar and water in urine contribute to weight loss.

Excessive thirst: More water consumption is needed to dilute high blood sugar hence a diabetic feels thirsty all the time.

Frequent urination: Body tries to get rid of the extra sugar in the blood by excreting it in the urine.

Excessive hunger: One of the functions of insulin is to stimulate hunger. Hence higher insulin levels lead to increased hunger.

Poor wound healing: One of the serious implications of diabetes is poor wound healing. High blood sugar levels prevent white blood cells, necessary for blood clotting and fighting against infection from functioning normally.

Infections: Frequent infections result from suppression of the immune system due to presence of excessive glucose in the tissues.

Disturbed mental status: Due to high or low levels of blood sugar the patient feels agitated, irritated and lethargic.

Hazy vision: Hazy vision is not specific for diabetes but is frequently present with high blood sugar levels.

Diabetics can lead a perfectly normal life by following the three principles of diet, care and check ups. There are certain precautions that should be taken to rule out disease related complications.

Maintain oral hygiene to prevent growth of bacteria.

Get your blood and urine checked regularly.

Skin aliments should be immediately treated.

Never stop medication, unless advised by doctor.

Carry your diabetic identity with you, along with your name, address and telephone number in case you need immediate help.

Monthly weight check up and yearly heart check up.

Wear shoes all the time or slippers with hard soles.

Try not to marry a diabetic.


A diabetes diet should revolve around three principles. It should help maintain an ideal weight, keep glucose levels in check and keep heart disease at bay as diabetics are naturally prone to it. It means the diet should be low in sugar, fats and should be slow in releasing energy in blood stream.

Meals should be spaced throughout the day. Instead of three heavy meals, have 6-7 lighter meals.

The intake of carbohydrates should be spread throughout the day to give body the chance to digest.

Intake of food with high content of saturated fats and cholesterol should be strictly avoided with complete ban on egg yolks and organ meats.

Foods rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, and whole-grain breads and cereals are said to lower blood glucose. But they should be taken in moderation and on the advise of your physician.
Sample Diabetes Diet:

1. Divide your plate in three unequal parts. One part should cover ½ the plate, the other half should be further divided into 2 parts.

2. The first half should be filled with salad that may include spinach, carrots, onions, lettuce, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms etc.

3. You can place meats, fish, eggs, tofu, cottage cheese etc in the 1/4th portion.

4. The remaining ¼ can be filled with brown rice, bread, potatoes, soup cereal, lentils beans, yams etc.

5. ½ cup fat, sugar-free yoghurt or milk.

6. One fruit like guava, apple, berries or any citrus.


The best thing about diabetes is that it is a slow progressing non invasive disease and in not at all a life threatening unless one abuses one’s body.

As of now there is no established cure of diabetes however it can be successfully managed and a person can lead a perfectly normal life by following a healthy lifestyle.

First Published: Sunday, November 15, 2009, 09:09

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
comments powered by Disqus