Diabetes: A lifestyle disease

Updated: Oct 24, 2013, 15:30 PM IST

Liji Varghese

So you hate it when people invite you to a party. You are even more reluctant when the party is it at your own place. Not because you hate jovial and ebullient atmosphere around, but because you cannot gorge on things being served, let alone the desserts….you have to think twice before you devour the vegetable/fruit salads because of the restrictive diet plan handed over to you by your dietitian.

Life is not easy for people with diabetes. Given the fact that one has to live with the disease all through his/her life as there is no known cure and the medication available is only intended at keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal in order to avoid other health complications, it’s really important to take preventive measures at the first place.

Due to the chronic nature of the disease, diabetics have to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes lifestyle modification and healthy eating. Because of the body`s inability to break down sugar, healthy eating doesn’t mean having a well balanced three-course diet, it means keeping a count on the amount of calorie intake, depending on the type of diabetes a person is suffering from, because sheer negligence can lead to dangerous complications like cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic renal failure, retinal damage and amputation.

The precise etiology of diabetes is though unknown, certain genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to an increase in blood sugar levels. With the changing priorities and hectic lifestyle it becomes pretty obvious that you are diagnosed with the metabolic disease. According to the WHO estimates, more than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes, which is likely to double by 2030.

Maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, having an active lifestyle, eating healthy, avoiding junk, restraining from alcohol, smoke and tobacco can help prevent diabetes, though there is no guarantee that you would never be diagnosed with it. (Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited or can be triggered by certain infections, Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance, and is caused due to genetic or lifestyle factor and gestational diabetes is caused during pregnancy).

Changing priorities in the fast paced world and a hectic lifestyle leaves us with no time to keep a check on the signals sent by our body. Signs like nausea, vomiting, dehydration are by and large ignored by us, as we tend to assume that the hectic schedule must have taken a toll on the body and must have led to the condition. It’s only when the condition worsens over a period of time and leads to more complicated health situation that one realises that the excess sugar levels in the blood must have triggered the onset of other diseases.

Early detection can help control the disease at an earlier stage, also known as the prediabetes stage, wherein the blood sugar level triggers higher than normal, but not so high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The stage, if not treated can raise the chances of developing diabetes in near future. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and get a regular check-up of the blood glucose levels.

The diet plan and medication vary from person to person. There is no set diet plan and one should not rely on internet or diet plan books. Rather it’s very important to consult a doctor/dietician, who would suggest a plan according to your age, body weight, height, sex, physical activity, nature of diabetes and other health complications.

It is vital for a diabetic patient to understand and know his/her condition well enough as this can help lead a normal life. Even though diabetes cannot be cured, it can be effectively controlled; just that one has to take certain precautions.