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Diabetes – a silent killer on the loose
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Diabetes – a silent killer on the loose

Diabetes one of the most common ailments, affects people worldover. As lightly we take it, it is a major killer that hinders functioning of several vital organs. Today, on World Diabetes Day, NT BUZZ aims to create more awareness

Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ

“I was always a physically active person, played sport. Then in my early thirties I had a persistent pain in my legs, and always thought it was due to my job which involved a lot of walking and standing. The doctor didn’t think it was anything to worry about and Brufen was prescribed, I popped these daily for about two years, until I did a medical test and discovered I was suffering from Type II diabetes,” says a patient who is living with diabetes for over 35 years.

Every year November 14 is observed as World Diabetes Day, marked by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness in response to rising diabetes rates worldwide. The date is significant as it is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.

The theme for this year is, ‘The Family and Diabetes’ to highlight how the killer illness affects not just an individual, but spouses and children too. The families have a role in supporting people living with diabetes and thus the disease also poses several risks. “The key to having a happy family is having a healthy family. My father suffers from the illness but makes sure he controls his diet and does a lot of physical activity. Knowing the risk in the family as my uncle and grandmother suffer from the illness, not only is my father overtly concerned, but tries to get the children to work out, eat less sweets and stay healthy,” says Divya Naik.

Diabetes is now termed a family disease, but is also preventable. Medical practitioner, Tejas Kamat who specialises in diabetes and thyroid tells us that it is not difficult to take control of the disease. He says that it is essential to adhere to medications as advised by your doctor. Equally important is to check your sugars regularly, especially Hba1c, which gives a three months average blood glucose levels.

“One of the most important steps towards controlling your diabetes is to make lifestyle changes. These include dietary modifications, physical activity, weight loss, smoking cessation and alcohol moderation. Discuss with your physician/diabetologist about the lifestyle changes that are appropriate for you,” Kamat says.

He points out that diet and physical activity are the two essential factors that can prevent and help in Diabetes management. He suggests making some changes in the types of food eaten, reducing the portion and serving sizes, and eating small, frequent meals (every 2-4 hours).  “In general, foods that are high in fibre such as whole gains (ragi, jowar, barley, oats), whole pulses, green leafy vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products (low-fat milk or yogurt), fresh fish and lean meat are healthier food choices,” he says.

He also stresses that there is a need to limit fat intake, avoid saturated and ‘trans’ fats, which can increase bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Avoid sugar and refined flour (maida) based products such as candies, jams, jelly, sweet biscuits, cakes, pastries, marmalade, pies, condensed milk etc. Avoid, fruit juice, coconut water, soft drinks and other sweetened beverages.

“Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. This could include aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike and muscle-strengthening exercise such as lifting light weights,” Kamat says, before adding that all this should be discussed with the doctor before getting started. He also says that smart ways of being physically active such as using steps instead of lift/escalator, parking your vehicle at a distance or getting down at the previous bus station and walking to your office, should be incorporated. And thus, the role of the family is huge in diabetes prevention, management and care.

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