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World Diabetes Day: How to control the killer disease

November 14, 2013 10:43 IST

World Diabetes Day: How to control the killer disease

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Shameem Akhtar

It's common sense really... stuff you most certainly should know. But every once in a while it's good to remind oneself of what one must do to stay healthy and keep diabetes at bay.

Read on!

Diabetes has reached pandemic proportions, ironically enough, because of increased prosperity. This is because prosperity in turn encourages obesity. It also encourages a sedentary lifestyle. It also allows easy access to medications, however expensive, to control lifestyle diseases.

Some of these medications also interfere with weight loss, or insulin efficiency, creating side-effects that indirectly affect diabetes control.

Diabetes control needs the support of conventional medicine. But is also very important to see this is a lifestyle disease in order to bring about changes in our habits, to ensure that the medicines are well complemented by your own intercession.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, takes you through a few lifestyle habits that may help you deal with diabetes.

November 14 is World Diabetes Day.

1. Lose some weight

When you take medication for blood sugar control, it means the glucose stuck in your blood is allowed entry into the cells. Remember that diabetes is about having blood sugar in high levels in the wrong places of the body. So, when the blood sugar levels in your cells increase it also means you have to control how much you eat and how well you burn it up.

Unused blood sugar only means extra calories gained. So, it means to maintain efficient blood sugar levels in your blood and your cells, supportive roles must be played by your diet and your activity levels.

So plan weight loss wisely, keeping in mind skipping meals could be dangerous.

Instead, having proper meal timings, eating foods with low glycemic index (which release energy more slowly), and eating fiber-rich foods and avoiding refined/processed foods would not only help control blood sugar levels, but also help you lose weight to an acceptable and healthy ratio.

It is good to remember that blood sugar problems are linked to heart and kidney woes and having a healthy weight go a long way in controlling the latter too.

Also read: Working long hours? Diabetes is just around the corner!


Image: Diabetes is becoming increasingly common amongst working professionals
Photographs: Radu Sigheti/Reuters

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2. Have an exercise regimen

Most people with blood sugar problems are wary of introducing intense exercise or activity levels, fearing these as dangerous to their condition. On the contrary a sedentary lifestyle is extremely dangerous because it puts all systems in the body out of kilter and makes them susceptible to long-term inefficiency and collapse.

In diabetes, it is universally accepted and medically approved, to have three days (modules) of some sort of cardio-aerobic-intense activity, supported by two days (modules) of muscle-building activity. Obviously, the introduction to such activity must be phased but once introduced, they will not only become enjoyable but also show the route to greater health.

A sedentary lifestyle, with a diabetic condition, on the other hand could lead to greater complications with the circulatory system.


Image: Have a proper exercise regimen
Photographs: Edgar Su/Reuters
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3. De-stress, de-stress, de-stress

Stress affects blood sugar levels directly. Interestingly, mental stress can either elevate or depress blood sugar levels, causing dangerous yo-yos.

In most people mental stress showed increased blood sugar levels. Physical stress -- caused by illnesses, injuries -- also upped blood sugar levels.

Also, stress hormones directly affected the release of insulin, all indicating that diabetes and stress are dangerous bed-fellows. It will not need a genius to guess that those who are prone to stress and crumble at its onset are more likely to be prone to diabetes too.

Obviously, living a normal life invites a good amount of stress. The ability to cope with it is what makes a difference between the one who can survive the stress or the one who will sink under.

Those who understand that stress is adding to their physical ailments need to find outlets to release it: through meditation, having rejuvenating massages regularly, or enjoying some physical activity hobbies that allows them some space to steam off. It would go a long way in de-stressing. And controlling diabetes.


Image: Learn to de-stress every once in a while
Photographs: Courtesy: Shilpa's Yoga
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4. Dental care

Did you know that weak gums are closely related to diabetes?

In some it can actually cause diabetes by messing up blood sugar levels, as the body's reaction to invasion from germs from the gum, into the blood stream.

In others, already having diabetes, it can block the control of the disease.

Bad or weak gums can cause other problems also associated with diabetes: eye problems, kidney failure, and heart problem, or stroke. It would be wise to have regular dental checks and ensure that it does not exacerbate your diabetes, or cause it!


Image: Watch those gums and teeth. Gums are closely related to diabetes.
Photographs: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
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5. Eye care

Most of the effort, when you have diabetes, goes around diet control and less care is taken of associated problem areas, like your eyes.

Taking care of your eyes may be equally important. Avoid activity that strain the eyes, including sudden lifting of very heavy objects.

Straining while passing stools may also be avoided. Ensure that your leisure activities do not involve straining the eyes.

Control your blood pressure to avoid straining the blood vessels at your eyes. Have annual eye-check ups to spot problems, in any.


Image: Taking care of your eyes is crucial in controlling diabetes.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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