For many people in India, especially those in the older age groups, diabetes is a lifestyle condition that they live with on a daily basis. However, diabetes is becoming more common in younger age groups as well, raising issues of public health. After China, India is the country with the second-highest prevalence of diabetes, with an estimated 77 million individuals – or roughly 1 in 11 Indians – having the disease.
Pre-diabetes is a condition or stage that precedes diabetes, where the body’s blood sugar levels are elevated but not yet high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. The National Urban Diabetes Survey estimates that our nation has a startling 14 percent prevalence of pre-diabetes, commonly known as borderline diabetes. Due to the absence or minimal visibility of symptoms, many people in their 30s and 40s may be pre-diabetic without even being aware of it. If diabetes runs in your family, you are at an increased risk of developing it yourself. Nevertheless, by making dietary and lifestyle changes, pre-diabetes may still be somewhat reversed and treated.
Here are some precautions and tips one can be mindful of to stay healthy as a pre-diabetic:
Move about more
Sitting is the new smoking. A sedentary lifestyle is known to increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise and workouts approved by a trainer or doctor help manage pre-diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels. Furthermore, being active can improve insulin sensitivity throughout the body. It can also help you manage your weight which is crucial to not slip into diabetes. Try brisk walks, jogs, and runs and gradually move to more aerobic exercises such as dancing and biking/bicycling.
Also read: High blood sugar control: 5 foods to avoid if you are pre-diabetic – check list
Did you know that being overweight, or having a body mass index over 25, can increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes? If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, gradually losing 5-10 percent of your body weight can significantly improve your chances of delaying or reversing diabetes prevalence. Ask a trainer to help you focus on your midsection for belly fat, as a large waist circumference is known to put a person at an increased risk of diabetes.
Keep stress at bay
Stress can make you sick, but it can also make you pre-diabetic, or at least make your condition worse. An imbalance of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline – known for the fight or flight response – can trigger blood glucose levels to shoot up and remain high. Make time for adequate rejuvenation on your schedule, and make sure not to pressure yourself to work like a machine. Make time for laughter and time with friends and family. Schedule time for walks, gardening, or other hobbies that help you decompress.
Watch what’s on your plate
Consider the composition of your meals. Is there an adequate balance between protein, carbohydrates, fats, and essential vitamins and minerals? For a healthy portion, pre-diabetics should fill half of their plate with non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens, and the rest with healthy carbohydrates, whole grains, and lean protein. Stocking up on fiber will ensure satiety without raising blood sugar. Snack on nuts and fruit, even if they seem to be sugary. One must remember they have natural sugar.
Avoid drinking your sugar
Added sugars must be avoided at all costs to avoid escalation into diabetes. Sweetened beverages can spike blood sugar levels and provide little nutritional diversity, such as protein. This includes energy drinks, soft drinks, and any syrups or liquid desserts. Research says that substituting one daily serving of a sugary drink with low-calorie alternatives such as water, coffee, or tea is linked with a 2-10 percent lower risk of diabetes.
(Dr Vivek Srivastava, Senior Vice President, Zeon Lifesciences)