ATLAS group Chairman, Dr M.M Ramachandran expressed the idea , “A Hospital is not only a place for treatment but must be a launch pad for community education on preventable conditions.”
World Diabetes Day is observed on November 14 as it marks the birthday of the great diabetes research pioneer, Sir Frederick Banting.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition - there is no known cure but can be managed. It is when your body produces too little or none of the hormone insulin, which regulates how glucose, or blood sugar is distributed in the body.
Diabetes is of two types Type 1 and 2. The type of diabetes being most commonly diagnosed is type 2, which is the one most affected by lifestyle choices - particularly being overweight and sedentary. The other is type 1, which is less common and affects 10% of the population, and it is managed with daily insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes follows a spectrum-like pattern in development from normal to prediabetes (glucose intolerance) and finally to type 2 diabetes. The pre-diabetes condition can remain hidden for many years and it is impossible to predict when it can progress to type 2 diabetes. Some people can have symptoms for years and not realize it, like the famous Hollywood actor Tom Hanks.
In terms of prevention, there is little that can be done regarding type 1, as it is thought to be a genetically linked immune problem which can be triggered by various factors like the environment, viruses.
Type 2, however, is different. It closely follows lifestyle measures like poor diet, physical inactivity and consequent weight gain. Diabetes onset can be delayed by avoiding regular intake of calorie rich foods (ready meals and fast food), taking healthy exercise (at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week) and avoiding stress.
Type 2 diabetes symptoms are most commonly thirst and excess urination. Early symptoms may be very subtle like: skin infections (boils, thrush), tiredness, sometimes slight black velvety discolouration under armpits and neck folds (called acanthosis nigricans) in overweight people. These are signs which the doctor may want to investigate, particularly in high risk people.
Those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can make some key dietary changes like to eat foods that don't lead to sharp rises in blood sugar. Fibre rich complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and lentils are recommended and combining these with protein further reduces the rate at which sugars are released. Soy beans are an excellent example as they contain protein and complex carbohydrates in an ideal ratio, as well as nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins.
Symptoms experienced with type 2 diabetes in particular (unlike type 1 diabetes which has a rapid onset and obvious symptoms) can sometimes be very mild, causing late diagnosis. By the time of diagnosis the majority of patients may have complications.
Chromium can be used to help protect against the development of type II diabetes as it has been shown to help improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin. Foods rich in chromium include brown rice, mushrooms, broccoli and these should be recommended to those at risk of diabetes.
Some spices like cinnamon and fenugreek can also help regulate blood sugar.
In conclusion if 90% of diabetes in the world is type 2 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes is the version of the condition most affected by choices we make as to what we eat and how active we are, then it's time to follow the motto of this year’s WDD “Get MOVING”!