Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder that results in an elevated level of blood sugar.
To understand diabetes, we need first to understand the metabolism of carbohydrate in the body. Carbohydrates that we eat gets broken down into sugar known as glucose inside the body. Glucose is released into the bloodstream. Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas (The pancreas is the gland that is situated below and behind the stomach) and is responsible for moving the sugar from the blood into the cells where sugar is stored or is used to produce energy. Thus, insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your blood. As the level of blood sugar drops, the secretion of insulin from the pancreas drops too.
However, with diabetes, the body either is unable to make enough insulin or is unable to use insulin effectively.
Diabetes mellitus if left untreated eventually damages the kidneys, eyes, nerves and other organs and can be serious and life threatening. There is no cure for diabetes, but you can still can live a healthy and long life by bringing changes in your lifestyle and with appropriate treatment.
The treatment of diabetes depends upon its cause and its type.
Type of Diabetes
The two primary types of diabetes include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes – Type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produces insulin. The pancreas makes little or no insulin. Thus, the sugar cannot reach the cells to be used to produce energy.
10% of people who have diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the most common diabetes in people under the age of 30. However, it may occur at any age.
Type 2 diabetes– It is the most common type of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin but is unable to use it properly. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin that leads to the build-up of sugar in your blood. Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age. However, it is common in middle-aged and older people.
Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. It is common in young people who are obese or overweight. About 90% of diabetic patients have type-2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions. Reversible diabetes condition is termed as prediabetes.
Prediabetes – Prediabetes is defined as reversible diabetes. Here the level of blood sugar is higher than the normal, but it is not enough to be termed as diabetes.
The normal blood glucose level is between 70 and 99mg/dL. Those with diabetes have a fasting blood sugar level higher than 126 mg/dL. Individuals who are referred to have borderline diabetes or prediabetes usually have blood sugar range of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter. People with prediabetes are at the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Another type of diabetes is gestational diabetes that affects females during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes – It is common for pregnancy to cause some form of insulin resistance. However, some pregnant females become less sensitive to insulin. It is essential to control gestational diabetes as the blood sugar travels through the placenta to the baby and affects the growth and development of the baby.
In most of the cases, gestational diabetes goes after the birth of a baby but about 10% of females suffering from gestational diabetes are at the risk of developing type-2 diabetes after weeks or even years later.
Other less common types of diabetes are cystic fibrosis-related diabetes and monogenic diabetes.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes
No matter what type of diabetes the patient is suffering from it leads to high blood sugar. The symptoms of diabetes depend on the elevated level of blood sugar.
The common symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing of the sores
- Recurrent vaginal, skin or gum infections.
- Presence of ketone bodies in the urine.
People with prediabetes and in some cases, type 2 diabetes, may not experience any symptoms initially.
Symptom in type 2 diabetes tends to be more severe and comes on quickly.
If you notice possible symptoms of diabetes in yourself, any of the family member or your child contact your doctor so that the diagnosis can be made earlier and treatment can begin soon.
What Causes Diabetes
What Causes Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
In prediabetes and type-2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and pancreas are unable to make enough insulin to overcome insulin resistance. Thus, sugar instead of moving into the cells is a build-up in the bloodstream.
The exact reason why this happens is unknown. However, the environmental factors, unhealthy lifestyle and genetics may play a role.
Studies show that being overweight is linked strongly to development type-2 diabetes. However, his does not mean that every person who has type-2 diabetes are overweight.
Causes of type-1 diabetes
The cause of type-1 diabetes is not known. It is an autoimmune disease where the immune system starts attacking the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving the body with little or no insulin. It is believed to be caused to due to the combination of the genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. Weight is not at all considered related to the case of type-1 diabetes.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes
During the pregnancy, certain hormones are produced to sustain the pregnancy. These hormones make the cells resistant to insulin. Our pancreas produces extra insulin in order to overcome this resistance. However, in some cases pancreas is unable to keep up the extra insulin. As a result, little glucose gets into the cell and much of the glucose stays in the blood resulting into gestational diabetes.
Treatment of Diabetes
Diabetes is a severe disease. Treatment of diabetes requires close watch over the level of blood sugar along with medication proper diet plan and exercise. To find out the appropriate diabetes treatment, consult health care professionals of a diabetes treatment team that includes diabetes specialist, an eye doctor, foot doctor and a nutritionist.
Diet For Diabetes
If you eat healthily, you can prevent, control as well as reverse diabetes. Below are the tips to follow so that you can enjoy the food without feeling deprived or hungry.
Losing weight is one of the important things you can do to lower the blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol level. People who have diabetes are at the risk of heart diseases and developing other mental health issues such as depression. Therefore, it would be best if you eat a balanced diet to have a profound effect on your energy, mood and sense of well-being.
Diabetes Diet Planning
It is not that you have to give up all your favourite food and resign to bland foods for a lifetime. Even if you have diabetes, your nutrition needs are virtually the same as everybody else. In addition, you do not need any special food. Thus, it would be best if you focus on making smarter food choices.
Below is the list of foods you need to eat more and eat less to prevent, control or reverse diabetes.
Food To Eat More
- Healthy fats such as flaxseed, avocados, fish oil, olive oil and nuts.
- High-quality protein such as low-fat dairy, unsweetened yoghurt and eggs.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. Whole fruit is a better choice than juices.
- High fibre cereals made up of whole grain.
- Organic turkey, organic chicken, fish and shellfish.
As you can see, there are many healthy food options. Now let us go through the list of foods you need to limit or eat less.
Foods To Eat Less
- Refined pasta, sugary cereals, white bread and rice.
- Red meat and processed meat
- Fast foods or packed foods that are high in sugar such as chips, desserts, sweets and baked goods.
- Low-fat products
The key is you need to choose a high fibre diet with a low glycemic index.
In comparison to fats and protein, carbohydrates have a big impact on the level of blood sugar. To understand this properly, learn about the glycemic index.
What is the glycemic index?
Glycemic index is a relative ranking of carb rich foods according to how they affect the level of blood glucose. Foods with low glycemic index are digested, absorbed and metabolized slowly. Thus, they cause a slow and low rise in the level of blood glucose. It is recommended to avoid foods that are high in glycemic index.
Foods high in glycemic index
- Sugar and sugary foods
- White bread
- Sugary soft drinks
- White rice
Food medium and low in class make an index.
- Whole grains
- Fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, dried apricots, pears, plums, apples, cherries, peaches, strawberries and grapes.
- Vegetable such as onion, lettuce, spinach, carrot, green peas, tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, kale, cabbage, broccoli, celery, eggplant, peppers, green beans, mushrooms and snow peas.
Glycemic index score is a general guide to help you choose your food. Low glycemic index food make you feel fuller for longer duration and control your appetite.
Eating foods that are low in glycemic index no doubt will help you to control the level of blood glucose but, if you only consume foods that are low in the glycemic index, you may end up eating an unhealthy and unbalanced diet.
No doubt, glycemic index is beneficial to help manage the blood glucose, but there are a few notable drawbacks:
- The true benefits of using the glycemic index is not yet clear.
- Many times eating, according to the glycemic index, makes you eat unhealthy food or sometimes unnecessarily complicates eating.
- Please note that the glycemic index is not the measure of the healthfulness of any food.
This is why it is essential to meet a certified nutritionist a dietitian to get a proper diet plan.
Research suggests that heart-healthy diets and Mediterranean diet prevents diabetes, checks blood sugar level and improves diet quality.
Choosing slow-release and high fibre carbs have a great impact on the blood sugar level. High fibre complex carbs are slow-release carbs that digest slowly and prevents our body from producing too much insulin.
A diabetic diet does not mean that you need to eliminate sugar. You can enjoy a small serving of your favourite dessert but in moderation.
Below are the few tips:
- Reduce the craving for sweets – More sugar in your diet more will be the craving. Slowly reduce the quantity of sugar in your diet and give your taste buds time to adjust.
- Add healthy fat to your dessert – A healthy fat is known to slow down the digestive process. Unhealthy fat may increase the level of cholesterol. Go for healthy fat such as yoghurt, nut, ricotta cheese or peanut butter.
- Cut back carb-heavy foods – If you want to enjoy sweets at a meal that is adding extra carbohydrate, you need to cut the other carb-heavy food at the same meal.
- Avoid eating sweets as a stand-alone snack – When sweet is eaten as stand-alone, it causes blood sugar to spike. Make it a part of your meal and try to eat sweets along with other healthy foods so that your blood sugar will not spike.
Tips for cutting down sugar
- Reduce soda, soft drink and Juice. Cut down sweeteners and cream you add to coffee and tea.
- Do not replace saturated fat with sugar.
- Make sure to buy unsweetened foods such as plain yoghurt unsweetened or flavoured oatmeal.
- Replace refined sugar with fruit, dates, jaggery.
- Avoid packed or processed food such as frozen dinner or canned soups.
- Slowly reduce the amount of refined sugar in the recipes. To boost the sweetness, add vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint e.t c.
- If you drink alcohol, one of the important point to note is never underestimate the carbs and calories in alcoholic drinks. Better, choose calorie-free mixers. It is advised to take alcoholic beverages only with food. Make sure to monitor the level of blood glucose as alcohol interferes with insulin and diabetes medication.
- To keep diabetes at bay, you need to eat at a regular set time.
When you maintain a regular eating schedule, your body can regulate the level of blood sugar in a better way. Eat consistent and moderate portion sizes for each meal. Make sure to start your day with the healthy breakfast that will provide energy and maintain a steady blood sugar level. Eat at regular intervals. Eat six times a day and keep your portions in check. To regulate the level of blood sugar, make sure to eat approximately the same amount every day rather than to skip a meal or overeat a day.
Yoga Poses To Manage Diabetes
Yoga is beneficial in relaxing your body and mind. It improves blood circulation and lowers blood pressure. Besides, certain yoga poses effectively manage diabetes. Regular yoga practice reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes and other complications.
Below are some simple yoga poses to improve all-over quality of your life and manage diabetes.
Yoga Poses to Manage Diabetes
1. Supported Shoulder Stand – The supported shoulder stand improves the blood circulation and stimulates the thyroid gland. In addition, it relieves stress and calms the mind. This yoga pose works on muscles: rectus abdominis, rotator cuff, quadriceps and trapezius.
What to do
- Lie flat on the yoga mat with your back towards the floor. Keep a folded blanket under your shoulders.
- With the edge of the blanket, align your shoulders.
- Your arms should rest alongside the body with the palms facing download.
- Lift your leg. Make sure your legs are straight.
- To support move your hand to the lower back and raise your legs, keeping your shoulder pain and hips in the straight line.
- Stay in this position for about 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
- Slowly roll back to the starting position.
2. Legs-up-the-wall pose: It lowers the stress level and reduces the blood sugar level. It relieves headache and boosts body energy. This yoga pose works on the pelvic muscles, lower back, hamstrings, back of the neck and front torso.
What to do
- Sit on the yoga mat with the wall on your right side.
- Flatten your back towards the floor.
- Slowly, swinging your both legs up along the wall and form a 90 degree against the wall.
- Make sure your sitting bones are close to the wall
- Relax your chin, neck and throat.
- Stretch both your arms to your sides with the palms facing up.
- Stay in this pose for about 15 minutes and then slowly revert to the starting position.
3. Bow Pose: It is a backward bend pose that opens the chest and stimulates the abdominal organs. It helps to lower down the level of blood sugar and release respiratory ailments and constipation. The muscles that work in this pose include hamstrings, quadriceps, pectoralis major and gluteus maximus.
How to do
- Lie down on the mat on your stomach
- Rest your arms alongside your body with the palms facing upward.
- Bend both your knees and bring your hands to the outside of the ankles.
- Lift your head, chest and knees.
- Take a deep breath and look forward.
- Remain in this position for about 30 seconds
- Exhale and released your body
4. Supine spinal twist: It is a restorative twisting pose. This pose stimulates the abdominal organs and lowers the blood sugar level. Besides, this pose alleviates stiffness and pain in the back, spine and hips. Supine spinal twist works on rectus abdominis, pectoralis major, erector spinae and trapezius.
What to do
- Lay flat on the mat on your back
- Bring your knees into the chest.
- Slowly bring your knees over to your left side.
- Make sure to keep your knees together and at the level of your hips.
- You may use your left hand to apply little pressure to your knees.
- Stay in this position for about 30 seconds.
- Repeat the steps on the opposite side
5. Plow pose – It is an inversion pose that stimulates the thyroid gland. It reduces stress and increases blood circulation. It also relieves insomnia, headache and backache. The Plow pose works on spinal extensors, hamstrings, rotator cuff and trapezius.
What to do
- To do this pose, you need to start from shoulder stand.
- From Shoulder Stand bring both your feet together to the floor above the head.
- Your feet may not touch the floor initially so you may use a block or a pillow for support.
- Support your lower back with your hands
- Stay in this position for about 5 minutes.
- Release yourself slowly by rolling your spine back to the mat with your legs raised to form 90 degree angle
- Now slowly lower your leg back to the mat.
6. The Child Pose – It is a resting pose that increases relaxation and promotes insulin production. It relieves stress, neck pain and back pain. The child pose works on muscles: hamstrings, spinal extensors, rotator muscles and gluteus maximus.
How to do
- Kneel on the yoga mat keeping your knees hip-width apart
- Sink back and bring your buttocks to heels.
- If required, place a cushion between your calves and thighs for the support.
- Lean forward and rest your head on the mat.
- Extend both your arms in your front and allow the arms to rest on alongside your body with both your palms facing up
- Stay in this position for about 5 minutes.
- Release yourself and lift into the seated position.
7. The Corpse Pose: After completing the above yoga poses rest your body in the Corpse pose. It is a restorative yoga pose that relaxes your body, lowers the blood pressure and calms the mind. The Corpse pose relieves insomnia, fatigue and headache.
What to do
- Lie flat on the mat with your back towards the floor. Spread your feet a little wider than your hips.
- Press both your arms alongside your torso with the palms facing up.
- Align your torso in a straight line.
- Make sure your body forms a Y-shape.
- Relax your body and allow it to press into the floor. Release all the tension you are holding
- Stay in this position for about 10 to 15 minutes
Research shows that regular yoga practice brings favourable body composition, blood sugar, and lipid levels. Data also suggest that yoga improves the autonomic function, pulmonary function, and lowers oxidative stress and blood pressure. To manage diabetes and all over well-being practice yoga daily for at least 10 to start. It is better if you start your yoga practice under the guidance of an experienced trainer.
Home Remedies To Manage Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you need to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. However, in our article, we have also covered effective home remedies to manage diabetes.
Top Home Remedies To Manage Diabetes
1. Bitter Gourd – Bitter gourd or bitter melon has blood glucose-lowering effects. It promotes the metabolism of glucose all over the body and not just a particular tissue or organ. Bitter gourd increases the secretion of pancreatic insulin and prevents insulin resistance. You will find it beneficial for the management of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
To keep the blood sugar level under check, drink a glass of bottle gourd juice every morning empty stomach. To make the bitter gourd juice take 2-3 bitter gourd:
Remove its seeds and extract its juice with a juicer’s help or grind them in a mixer and then strain the extract.
Add Some water to the extract and drink it.
Follow this for at least two months for or some noticeable result. You may also have steamed or fried bitter gourd (fried in little oil) in the meal.
2. Curry Leaves – Curry leaves have anti-diabetic properties and have been used to control and prevent diabetes for ages. Ingredients present in curry leaves reduces the rate at which the starch is broken down into simple sugar. Besides, it also reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood and prevents obesity. Chew about 10 fresh curry leaves every day in the morning for about three to four months.
3. Indian blackberry or Jamun or Jumbul – Jamun contains ellagic acid, hydrolysable tannins, anthocyanin and other compounds that control the blood sugar level. Every part of Jamun plant its berry, leave or seeds can be used to keep the blood sugar under check. The seeds of Jamun has a hypoglycemic effect that reduces the level of sugar in the blood and urine rapidly. The seeds of the Jamun contains alkaloid jambosine and glycoside jamboline. Both compounds regulate the blood sugar level. Jamun is a seasonal fruit and is readily available in
the market. Please include it in your diet as it is very effective for the health of the pancreas. You can also make a dry powder of its seed and consume a teaspoon of the powder two times a day.
4. Cinnamon – The bioactive component present in cinnamon stimulates the insulin activity and has lowers the blood sugar level. Research has shown that cinnamon powder is a very effective home remedy for regulating the sugar level in uncontrolled type 2 diabetes cases.
Add one and half teaspoon cinnamon powder to a cup of warm water and let it steep for 10 minutes. Drink this concoction every day until you see improvement.
* Please note cinnamon available in most of the grocery store is Cassia cinnamon. It contains a compound called coumarin, which is a toxic compound, and if consumed in excess, it increases the risk of liver damage. Another variety of cinnamon known as Ceylon cinnamon, also known as true cinnamon is comparatively safe for health, but we have limited studies about its effect on the blood glucose level.
5. Fenugreek seeds: Fenugreek seeds improve glucose tolerance. It has a hypoglycemic activity that lowers the blood sugar level and control diabetes. Besides, it stimulates the secretion of glucose-dependent insulin. Fenugreek seeds is high in fibre and slow the absorption of sugars and carbohydrates.
Soak four teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water and leave it overnight. In the morning, drink the water along with the fenugreek seeds empty stomach. Follow this for two to three months to bring the glucose level down. Alternatively, add two tablespoons of fenugreek powder to a glass of milk and drink it daily.
6. Okra or ladies finger: Okra contains polyphenolic molecules that reduce blood sugar levels and controls diabetes. Both its seeds and peel have antihyperlipidemic and antidiabetic potential.
Include okra in your diet. Alternatively, cut the edges of a few okras, prink them with a fork at several places and soak them in a glass of water overnight. In the morning discard the okras and drink the empty water stomach. Repeat this every day for several weeks.
7. Indian Gooseberry: Indian gooseberry or Amla is a very rich source of vitamin C. It promotes the proper functioning of the pancreas.
Take 2-3 Indian gooseberries, remove their seeds and grind them in the mixer to make a fine paste. Put the paste in the cloth and squeeze out the juice. Mix the juice of Indian gooseberry with water and drink it empty stomach. Alternatively, you may add two teaspoons of Indian gooseberry juice to a cup of bitter gourd juice and drink it every day for about two months.
8. Guava: Again, guava is a rich source of vitamin C and is also high in fibre. It maintains the blood sugar level. If you have diabetes, it is recommended to remove the skin of the fruit before eating it. Make sure not to consume too much guava in a day.
9. Aloe vera – Aloe vera contains phytosterol that has an antihyperglycemic effect. It lowers the fasting blood glucose level. You can make herbal medicine by combining aloe Vera Gel with bay leaf and turmeric to control the blood sugar level.
To one and a half teaspoons, ground turmeric add one and a half teaspoons ground bay leaves. Mix both the ingredients; add a tablespoon of aloe vera gel to the mixture and consume it twice a day before the meals.
10. Mango leaves: Mango leaves improve the blood lipid profiles and regulate insulin level in the blood.
Soak about 10 to 15 mango leaves in a glass filled with water overnight. In the morning filter the water and drink it empty stomach. Alternatively, dry the mango leaves and then grind them to make a fine powder. Consume one and a half teaspoons of mango leave powder two times in a day.
* No home remedy can entirely replace the insulin treatment.
Home remedies to manage diabetes are readily available in everybody kitchen and do not have any side effects. Thus, along with the prescribed medicines and lifestyle changes, better include them in your everyday diet to keep the blood sugar level under check.
The Final Takeaway
The factors that cause Type 1 diabetes are out of our control. However type 2 diabetes can be prevented with increase activity, weight loss and better food choices.
If you are at risk, get your blood sugar tested and follow your doctor’s advice to manage blood sugar level