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10 tips from an endocrinologist to help you live a diabetes-free life

Updated on:15 December 2020, 18:59pm IST
Whether diabetes runs in your family or not, you can keep this disease from wrecking your life by simply following these 10 easy tips to prevent diabetes.
Dr Sneha Kothari
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prevent diabetes
Don’t let diabetes be the villain in your life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive, and damaging disease that lasts a lifetime. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body produces insulin but doesn’t respond to it normally. Glucose is unable to enter the cells to supply energy, a problem called insulin resistance

Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is no longer an old man’s disease. Over the past decades, younger adults and children have also been falling prey to this disease. Indians get type 2 diabetes not only at a younger age, but also at lower body mass index. And a younger onset often means a greater risk of complications.

Did you know type 2 diabetes is a highly-heritable condition? Almost 90% of children and youth who have a first- or second-degree relative with type 2 diabetes inherit it. However, with proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, diabetes can be prevented.

Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly. In fact, patients can have type 2 diabetes for years and not know it. The most common symptoms are increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, unintended weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and frequent infections. 

Type 2 diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages. Not dealing with diabetes can lead to long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, loss of vision, foot and nerve damage, bacterial and fungal infections, and sexual dysfunction. This is exactly why we need to stay one step ahead of this disease and prevent diabetes.

These vital tips can help you live a diabetes-free life:

1. Ditch those sodas and other aerated drinks. Drink water from time to time to stay hydrated and improve your sugar control. Bid adieu to those artificially sweetened beverages and even fruit juices.

2. Choose healthier carbohydrates. See to it that you follow a diet low in carbohydrates and choose only healthy carbs, like brown rice, whole oats, buckwheat.

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3. Cut down on foods low in fibre such as white bread, white rice and highly processed cereals. Eat in controlled proportions and don’t go overboard. This will allow you to manage your blood sugar levels. Also, try to include foods rich in fibre in your diet. Eat broccoli, sprouts, carrots, asparagus, green peas, cauliflower, and even legumes.

4. Eat less red and processed meat. Meats like ham, bacon, sausages, beef and lamb have been linked to heart problems and cancer. Try swapping red and processed meat for egg whites, fish, poultry like chicken and turkey, and unsalted nuts. Beans, peas and lentils are also very high in fibre and don’t affect blood glucose levels too much, thus acting as a great swap for processed and red meat.

5. Choose healthier fats. We all need fat in our diet because it gives us energy. Healthier fats are found in foods like unsalted nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish, olive oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil. Saturated fats like ghee and butter can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood. It’s still a good idea to cut down on oils in general, so try to grill, steam or bake foods instead.

6. Cut down on added sugar. Cutting down sugar can be really hard at the beginning. Try to swap sugary drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices with water, plain milk, or tea and coffee without sugar.

7. Be smart with snacks. Choose yoghurts, unsalted nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables instead of crisps, chips, biscuits and chocolates. But watch your portions still.

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8. All movement counts.You can take up aerobic exercise. Alternatively, you can walk on a daily basis, take the stairs instead of elevators, or even take a standing break every 15 minutes or so at work.

9. Take up strength training. Sometimes called resistance training, it focuses more on building and maintaining muscle. It improves blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity.

10. Cut down on stress and relax by meditating and help you stay calm and composed. Likewise, stay away from smoking and alcohol as well.

Dr Sneha Kothari Dr Sneha Kothari

Dr Sneha Kothari is an endocrinologist at Global Hospital, Mumbai.