Diabetes has steadily increased in India and around the world over the last three decades, with India accounting for a sizable portion of the global burden. It is not unknown to us that India is fast becoming the global diabetes capital. Not only is the number of patients with diabetes rising, but it is also striking at a much younger age. According to the International Diabetes Federation, nearly 134 million Indians will develop diabetes by 2045; as a result, these people are more likely to experience heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose. While age and genetics certainly play a role in our chances of developing diabetes, our lifestyle choices play a crucial role too. Inactive lifestyles coupled with unhealthy eating habits, poor sleep, and high stress have caused a sharp rise in the number of diabetic cases in India in the past few years. All these factors are the foundation of diabetes.
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1. Inactive Lifestyle
An inactive or sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes. The majority of those belonging to the working population are employed in jobs that have erratic work schedules and entail sitting for long hours. Without regular exercise, excess sugar stays in the bloodstream rather than being sent into muscles to be used for energy, disrupting the body's response to insulin and putting the body in a chronically elevated state of high blood sugar. Exercise has a variety of benefits for managing diabetes, including decreasing body fat, lowering blood pressure, and lowering blood sugar. Exercise regularly increases the absorption of sugar (glucose) into cells in your muscles, liver, and fat. This improves the body's response to insulin, decreasing insulin resistance. Getting around 150 minutes of exercise and physical activity per week is recommended. Small changes like walking daily, taking the stairs, and taking breaks from sitting can increase your level of physical activity.
2. Unhealthy Eating Habits
The surge in global type 2 diabetes cases was driven by three major dietary factors: insufficient intake of whole grains, excess consumption of refined rice and wheat, and overconsumption of processed food. Ultra-processed foods (often called "junk foods") are everywhere. In general, these foods include processed and prepared snack foods with long ingredient lists that are high in calories but low in nutritional value. Consuming excess sugars and fats found in these foods can contribute to weight gain. This excess weight is associated with diabetes. Dietary management is the key to controlling diabetes. Blood sugar levels can be managed by eating:
- Foods that are low in sodium
- Foods that are low in saturated fat and free of trans fats
- More fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains high in fiber
- Healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados
- A managed amount of carbohydrates
- An adequate amount of protein from lean meats or plant sources
3. Poor Sleep And High Stress
Stress is not directly linked to diabetes, but it is considered a contributing factor. When under stress, the body releases a stress hormone called 'cortisol', which is antagonistic to insulin activity. The stress hormones make your blood sugar go up. So you may need more insulin or medication to control it. Trading precious sleep hours to meet a deadline or chat till the morning hours has become a common habit among young adults, boosting their risk of developing diabetes. Sleep deprivation can create an imbalance in the hormones that regulate your appetite, so you feel hungrier and, therefore, more likely to eat excessively and gain weight. Good sleep hygiene habits include both daytime and nighttime habits, such as:
- Getting regular exercise
- Keeping a regular sleep schedule
- Avoiding stimulants like caffeine or nicotine before bed
- Keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet
About The Author: Dr. Apurrva Sawant is a preventive healthcare specialist, doctor, and founder of Careport.