Let us describe in simple language how diabetes is caused. Diabetes or the elevated blood sugar levels are caused by either the deficiency or the faulty action of the hormone insulin, which converts sugar to energy. The four most important pillars of diabetes management are - correct medication (Insulin/ oral hypoglycemic drugs), dietary management, having a good physical activity regime and monitoring your parameters (home/self- blood glucose monitoring and lab tests as prescribed by your treating physician) regularly.
Dietary management plays a very important role in managing diabetes. Indian diet is carbohydrate based and most Indians consume about 60% carbohydrates in their regular diet. Increased intake of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats, dietary protein and decreased consumption of carbohydrates may lower down the dosage of insulin or hypoglycemic drugs and improve the glycemic control substantially. Experts are of an opinion that newly diagnosed diabetics/ patients or patients with pre- diabetes could also reverse their disease by following this particular regime.
In the current pandemic diabetic patients are at an increased risk of getting infections including respiratory infections and to top it all the monsoon is here to exacerbate the condition with bacterial and fungal infections. The practical diet/health tips for diabetic patients are as follows:
Wash fruits and vegetables properly before chopping and cooking. Monsoon invites bacterial growth with it so one must really be careful about the hygiene and sanitation of the body (especially feet) as well as food items.
Balanced diet including all macronutrients as well as micronutrients is suggested for optimal nutrition. Diet should consist of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, good fats and decent portion of fruits and vegetables.
Consumption of good quality fats like extra virgin olive oil, mustard oil, nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.) is essential. Some amount of A2 cow ghee is recommended for its beneficial effects. Avoid heating the oil for too long as it destroys the nutrients and also avoid reusing the oils.
One of the best fruits for diabetics is Jamun which helps lower blood glucose levels, is available in this season. It can be consumed as a snack in the mid-morning or it can also be added to the fruit and vegetable smoothie for that gush of anti-oxidants. Jamun seeds contain beneficial compounds like jamboline which helps control blood sugars. Other beneficial product is jamun vinegar. Experts suggest an intake of 1 teaspoon of this vinegar diluted with 200 ml of water, pre- meals for best results (can be take once in a day).
A teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar (with mother culture ) diluted with 250 ml of water can also be taken pre meals for gut health, blood sugar control and maintain pH values.
A combination of natural prebiotics (oats, psyllium husk, etc.) and probiotics (curd, buttermilk, etc.) helps all the diabetic patients manage their gut health well, as they may be prone to infections during monsoons. Also patients who are taking any antibiotics need to compensate for pre and probiotics to combat the harmful side-effects of these drugs.
Fenugreek seeds contain fiber and an alkaloid- trigonelline, which is known to reduce blood glucose levels. Fenugreek seeds can used in powdered form, sprouted form or by soaking in water. Its powder can also be added to dough, batters, vegetables, salads and beverages.
Fruits with glycemic index of 0-55 and glycemic load 0f 0-10 are safe for diabetics.
Do not stop exercising at all. Exercise has shown to improve immunity but at the same time crowded workout places like gyms need to be avoided in the current scenario. Yoga, meditation, 45 minutes of brisk walking with proper precautions and other floor exercises are recommended. Exercise increases metabolic rate, sensitizes the cells to absorb more blood glucose leading to good glycemic control.
Home blood glucose monitoring is essential at different times of the day- Fasting, pre-meals and post meals. Check with your physician about your monitoring regime.
Diabetic patients may have low immunity and it is essential for all patients to keep a watch on any complication that could precipitate during monsoons.
Disclaimer: Patients with any other complication especially diabetic nephropathy should opt for a customized eating plan and check with their dietitian before following the above mentioned tips.