Approximately 77 million Indians have diabetes, and it is estimated that nearly 57 percent of adults with the disease go undiagnosed. Despite how common the condition is, there are still a lot of myths around it that lead to an inadequate or incorrect understanding of diabetes and how to treat it. It's crucial to gain a thorough awareness of these little-known facts so that persons with diabetes and those who care for them can have a better understanding of the chronic illness and how to best manage their health.
Hanish Gupta, Consultant Physician, and Cardiologist, at Life Aid Hospital, Delhi said, "Almost three-fourths of India's diabetes population have uncontrolled blood glucose levels, and half of them show poor blood pressure control. Further, at least one-third of them have increased cholesterol and lipids. Common reasons for these metabolic abnormalities include non-adherence to treatment, infrequent doctor visits, and lack of awareness of long-term consequences of poorly managed diabetes."
Here are five common myths about diabetes de-bunked:
Sugar Alone Causes Diabetes
Fact: Diabetes is a complex condition related to several factors. These include being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, having an unhealthy diet, and more. It can also be related to genetic factors, such as a family history of diabetes. While people with diabetes are often advised to control their sugar intake, eating too much sugar alone does not cause diabetes.
However, still, be mindful of your sugar consumption -- moderation is key. An overall diet high in sugar can mean higher calories, which can contribute to weight gain and consequently increase your risk of diabetes. On the whole, try to opt for low glycemic index options and foods high in fiber as well, to achieve the right balance.
Diabetes can be Cured
Fact: While in rare cases diabetes is reversible, in most cases, diabetes once developed, is a lifelong condition. But living with diabetes doesn't have to be scary. There are various ways to effectively manage the condition. With proper adherence to prescribed medication and dietary and lifestyle modifications, as well as monitoring of one's glucose levels, people with diabetes can live a full life. By discussing with a doctor what diabetes management approach works best in individual cases, people can achieve their target glucose range and achieve optimal health.
Diabetes only Affects the Body's Blood Sugar Levels
Fact: Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar. However, diabetes can affect more than just glucose levels. Research suggests that the condition -- especially when uncontrolled -- can cause other related complications, such as increasing the risk of problems relating to the heart, eye, kidney, nerves, or feet. This makes managing diabetes in a timely manner even more important. It is also advisable for people with diabetes to get regular health check-ups and keep an eye on their broader health, to identify and address any problems promptly.
Some Types of Diabetes are milder than others
Fact: While diabetes has different categories, like type-1 and type-2 and gestational (while pregnant), these cannot be defined as mild or severe. Across all types of diabetes, uncontrolled cases can lead to serious, long-lasting complications. Despite this, people with diabetes can lead healthy, better lives with proper diabetes management, regardless of the type.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes Alone can Fully Manage Diabetes
Fact: While lowering the intake of certain foods that raise your blood glucose and adopting a healthy fitness routine are key steps to managing diabetes, this does not mean that only these steps will be adequate for all people with diabetes to fully manage their condition.
Abhijit Pednekar, Medical Affairs Director, Abbott India, commented, "Diabetes management is an ongoing process, which must be holistic and personalized. This involves adhering to dietary and lifestyle changes, prescribed medication, and regular glucose monitoring, which can collectively help individuals manage diabetes. By achieving better control over one's glucose levels, people can live healthier, fuller lives."
Understanding facts about the condition, it can make the care journey less complicated. Following medical guidance and working with doctors to understand what works best for individual situations is important, and it can empower people to better manage their diabetes. (Agency)
Read More► How to Take Care of Your Bone and Joint Health in Winters
Winter is here and with temperature dipping every single day, it is getting harder for people to manage bone and joint pain. This increased joint pain during winter is due to the increased inflammation in one or more joints. It is also because there is less supply of blood to the peripheral regions in the body due to which one's joints become stiff, causing pain in the joints and bones.
Joint pains are especially common in the winter season, making life difficult especially for arthritis patients. Not tackling them effectively could have a detrimental effect on your daily productivity and overall well-being. Here's what you can do to avoid excessive pain in the joints.
Joint pains are common in the winter season, as the cold weather can reduce blood circulation to fingers and toes which could worsen joint pains. Muscles also become tighter at lower temperatures resulting in stiffness and pain. Besides, people tend to stay indoors during winter which could mean limited exposure to sunlight and may result in Vitamin D deficiency.
Here are a few tips to deal with bone and joint pain in winter:
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and reduce inflammation and further reduce the friction between joint surfaces
Keep yourself warm in winter clothing, home heating, and other necessities
Regular exercise will help keep your joints supple and maintain flexibility. It could also help with the lubrication of the joints and improve blood flow
Enough exposure to the sun (Vitamin D) will help in building and improving the bones
A balanced diet with a rich amount of Vitamin D, and Vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, ginger, soya bean, fatty fish, green vegetables, nuts and seeds, plenty of water, and other collagen supplements will be helpful in joint and bone care during the winter season
Regular movements in the body will promote flexibility in your joints
People who are overweight have more chances of getting arthritis. One should maintain his/her weight in order to keep their knees healthy (Dr Harish Ghoota, Additional Director-Orthopedics, Fortis Escorts Hospital)
Read More► Five Actions to Safeguard Vision During Diabetes
You probably already know how important it is to keep blood sugar levels within the recommended range if you or a loved one has diabetes. Major, long-term health issues like vision loss, heart disease, and renal disease can be avoided or delayed with proper management of blood sugar, HbA1c, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
Diabetes can have a serious negative impact on the eyes, which can result in blindness or visual impairment. This is due to the fact that high blood sugar can destroy the capillaries in the eye's most delicate tissues, which transmit signals to the brain and enable clear vision. A permanent loss of vision may result from this retinal damage brought on by high blood pressure.
However, there is hope. One can avoid major eye damage by monitoring and regulating the blood sugar levels as per their doctor's recommendation.
The following five actions can help safeguard vision during diabetes.
When blood sugar levels rise, the delicate blood vessels that nourish the most delicate areas of the eyes are often the first to sustain damage. High blood sugar specifically harms the retina. The thin tissue that makes up around 65 per cent of the back of the eye is called the retina. Many light-sensitive cells reside there, allowing the eyes to communicate visual information to the brain via the optic nerve.
The blood vessels that supply the retina are harmed when blood sugar levels rise. Vision blurring may result from this, either temporarily or permanently. Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts are three distinct eye conditions that are quite common in people with diabetes. Timely detection and interventions can minimize such complications. By keeping track of the blood sugar levels one can reduce the risk for these sight-stealing conditions.
Every physiological system is harmed by smoking, but diabetics are particularly vulnerable. Smoking harms the veins, arteries, and capillaries in the body, aggravating diabetes-related eye damage already present. Whether you're a smoker and have tried to quit, or want to quit for the first time, don't give up. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Exercise benefits all physical systems in the same way that smoking does, so get moving! After lunch, go for a couple laps around the block. Take a few extra steps and park at the far end of the parking lot. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing diabetic eye disease since it lowers blood sugar levels. Put it on your calendar each week to remind you to make time for this appointment with yourself that will improve your life. Before beginning any workout regimen, discuss it with your doctor to find out the exercises they advise.
Focus on Eating Healthily
You are what you eat, we've all been told since we were young. Healthy eating leads to healthy eyes. Eat a diet that is well-balanced and contains meals that provide your body with good nutrients to safeguard diabetic eyes. Vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and zeaxanthin are some of them. Consuming a diet high in leafy greens, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel, nuts like walnuts and almonds, beans, lentils, and mushrooms will help you reach this goal. Maintaining a low glycemic diet is important to manage blood sugar levels.
Yearly Dilated Eye Examination
The finest tip is reserved for last: get a full dilated eye exam from your ophthalmologist once a year, or more frequently if advised, to make sure that your efforts to control blood sugar are aiding in maintaining the health of your eyesight. A screening for cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy may be performed at this visit. Your pupils enlarge as your eyes dilate, allowing your ophthalmologist to inspect the retina, macula, and optic nerve up close. Your doctor can identify diabetic retinopathy in its early stages long before you have any symptoms by looking at these sensitive tissues. (Dr. Kuldeep Dole, Medical Director - PBMA's H.V. Desai Eye Hospital An Orbis Partner Hospital)
"I was someone who was always complimented for my bouncy hair. But, now, things have changed. Nobody appreciates them because of the constant hair fall I have been facing," shares a public relation specialist adding that this has become one of the reasons for her mental stress now.
And there are several stories where we found how hair fall was related to the mental health of a person.
"Ok so apparently in the last two years since I have been working, my hair density has fallen rapidly. Earlier the patch covered about 35-40 per cent of the crown area now it covers almost 90 per cent. So to be blunt now, I have the hairs of a late 60s guy while I am still in my early 20s," shares a guy working at an IT firm.
While it is believed that stress causes hair fall, some examples and studies show that hair fall causes stress too.
According to studies, significant hair loss can lead to low self-esteem and a variety of other mental health difficulties ranging from stress and worry to suicidal ideation in extreme situations.
Hair loss is connected with a plethora of mental complications since it is a phenomenon that can affect a person's self and identity. Hair loss often causes chronic psycho-emotional and psycho-social stress. This is often found when combined with other complications such as depression, anxiety, personality disorder, among others.
Through a study conducted by Dr Debraj Shome, Director of The Esthetic Clinics, named, 'Iceberg phenomenon of alopecia associated public health ramifications on the quality of life among adults in India', it was found that men and women who have alopecia or hair loss can potentially have a psychological impact in the form of stress, anxiety, depression, loss of confidence, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, and social phobia. In a sample size of around 800 patients who were all above 18 years of age, 442 were male and 358 were female.
It was noticed based on the data that between the ages of 18-30 years, 27 per cent of females and 30 per cent of males reported hair fall problems that impacted their social life.
"Hair loss has the potential to turn every day of their life into a "bad hair day". Several studies have established an association between dermatological disorders affecting patients' mental health, thereby increasing the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among them," says Dr Shome.
Is Hair Loss Affecting Your Sexual Health?
Not only mental health, but experts believe that hair loss is also related to the sexual health of a person.
According to the study, alopecia interferes with the sex life of 72 percent of women as compared with 63 per cent of men. For 73 per cent of women as compared with 61 per cent of men, alopecia posed a problem for the people they love. Alopecia, however, took a toll on the professional life of both men as well as women, it noted.
Anupama Menon, the nutritionist at The Right Living, says, "Alopecia areata causes loss in confidence & self-esteem, heightened self-consciousness, and poor sense of body image. The affected person ends up feeling a sense of loss or having lost out on something, men relate to "feeling anxious" while women are reported to "feeling embarrassed". All of this affects the sex life of the individual as he/she may feel less desirable or attractive."
Dr Harsiddhi Rathod, Shalby Multispeciality Hospitals Ahmedabad, says, "Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a type of androgen hormone, can weaken hair follicles in males by binding to certain receptors on their scalp. This causes hair loss because the anagen phase of hair growth is shortened."
Common in Men, Women And Children!
As per the study conducted by Dr Shome, though often mistaken to be primarily a male disease, women are equally affected by it with devastating consequences in their day to day life.
The American Hair Loss Association has even recognized it as a serious life-altering condition that can no longer be ignored by the medical community and society, especially in women. Balding or thinning hair can be more traumatic for women in a society and culture where a bald man may be socially acceptable but a bald woman is not with her hair being symbolic of her femininity.
In a study by Hunt and McHale, 19-40 per cent of women had marital problems and 63 per cent had career-related problems as a consequence of alopecia.
Studies evaluating the psychological features of men and women with androgenic alopecia found their personalities to be elusive. It was also noted that as a consequence of hair loss, men reportedly became more anxious or aggressive while more women suffered from depression due to hair loss affecting their physical appearance.
Several studies have emphasised the psychological impact of alopecia, especially among women since they tend to be more aesthetic oriented.
For centuries, hair has been perceived as the crown of glory symbolising youth. Nearly every culture and society across the globe associate luscious healthy-looking hair with beauty and good health.
Though a physical phenomenon in itself, alopecia or hair loss can potentially have a psychological impact in the form of stress, anxiety, depression, loss of confidence, low esteem, suicidal ideation, and social phobia.
According to Dr Preeti Singh, Sr. Consultant of Clinical Psychology, Chief medical officer, at Lissun, an online therapy platform, children experience Alopecia Arata too.
"It can have a fairly early onset, they suffer a lot of ill-treatment by other children, bullying can manifest aggressive behaviour, at times delinquent behaviour, poor self-esteem, withdrawal, social anxiety, among other symptoms."
Are You Having Hair Loss? What's The Solution?
Alopecia is a known condition. Experts believe that if it is treated right and on time, there is a strong chance that it can be reversed. It just needs a holistic wellness plan based on the correct diagnosis in many cases to heal and resurrect.
Taking good care of your hair at home is important, but it is also equally important to get the problem checked by professionals.
Dr Shome notes that in several countries, including India, getting hair loss treatment or seeking a cure for alopecia is still considered an 'elective procedure', with a considerable surcharge (such as Goods and Services tax) levied by the government on such treatments/procedures.
"Governments across the globe should have a compassionate and empathetic stance towards this construct; and the first step towards this would be classifying those with hair loss as patients and not as consumers, which would in turn organically annihilate the levying of these taxes on non-surgical and surgical alopecia related treatments," he adds.
"It is the need of the hour to recognise the gravity of this issue of alopecia grappling a large population across the globe to stimulate necessary private, public, and government initiatives towards awareness about its psycho-social impact and mental wellness."
'Healthy lifestyle' a common phrase that has come under much scrutiny over the last couple years, has some of us checking our calorie count with every meal intake, and most of us aiming to achieve it, but never being able to. Despite alarming facts that reveal the sorry state of the Indian population's heart health, and India accounting for approximately 60 per cent of the world's heart diseases, it becomes an important consideration.
We know that hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity can impact our health negatively. These can be caused by our poor lifestyle choices. Our sedentary lifestyles have led to reduced levels of physical activity, coupled with the lack of moderation and imbalance in our food habits that include excess consumption of processed foods high in refined sugar, salt and high-in fat consisting of saturated and trans-fat. The key to minimising health risks is not as hard as you may think. Starting small and adopting simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help in maintaining overall heart health.
Choose Granola Bars Over Indian Dessert
We Indians have a sweet tooth and crave for something sweet with our meals, but most of the time we go overboard with the consumption of desserts which have excessive amount of sugar. Over consumption of sugar for long period of time accumulates as fat in the body causing weight gain. Even though sugar is part of our regular diet one needs to be mindful about the consumption pattern, portion sizes and should go for a snack which is more ideal.
Granola bars are a quick snack for those who need a power boost but make sure you use low amounts of sugar. Homemade granola bars can be made at home with oats, berries, edible seeds and dry fruits that are high sources of fibre and protein. Soluble fibre helps to reduce LDL levels i.e., bad cholesterol and blood pressure which will keep your heart healthy.
Swap Fruit Juices With Whole Fruits
Consuming whole fruits in the morning helps in better absorption of vitamins from the fruits. However, people choose the convenient option and consume fruit juices.
Natural and canned fruit juices are a concentrated sources of sugars without the benefit of fibre. Hence, it is advisable to include whole fruits as part of your breakfast, which have nutrients like fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Seasonal fruits can be a good way to include fruits in your breakfast every day.
Choose Blended Oils Over Single Seed Oils
Our day-to-day cooking requires oil in almost all our meals, therefore choosing the right oil is a simple change for overall health. Though single seed oils like ground nut, soybean, canola etc. do have health benefits, they are not enough to provide the right balance of fatty acids which are recommended in our diet.
A healthier switch would be opting for multi-source oils, also known as blended oils. Blended oils with antioxidants have multiple benefits like providing nutrition from fats and improving immunity. It is prepared by combining two or more oils into one to obtain benefits of two oils in one. They are scientifically blended to provide good balance of MUFAs and PUFAs that help manage cholesterol.
Choosing a blended oil like Saffola Gold Blended Oil as part of your everyday diet can help in keeping your heart healthy. It has natural antioxidants that help build immunity and gives you benefits of oryzanol that helps lower your cholesterol. Additionally, it has LOSORB technology which helps in absorbing lower quantities of oil during frying compared to other cooking oils. The oil is a blend of Rice Bran Oil which is rich in MUFA and Sunflower Oil which is rich in PUFA; and hence, gives you a good balance of MUFA and PUFA, which is beneficial for your heart health.
Lower Sodium and Saturated Fat Rich Snack Foods
The American Heart Association and Indian Council of Medical Research recommend ideal consumption of sodium to be no more than 2000 mg a day. Processed foods like chips, crackers or white bread as an evening snack has become a norm amongst adults these days and these foods are usually high in sodium and saturated fat. It is important to check nutritional labels before purchasing processed foods to assess the amount of sodium and saturated fat you are consuming. You can also opt for a healthy switch and consume foods like fruits, sprouts, oats, yogurt or millet based foods for snacks.
Swap Fast Food With Healthy Alternatives
Working professionals living sedentary lifestyles tend to depend on fast food to satisfy their hunger pangs. Fast food could have excess amounts of saturated fats, refined sugar and sodium, increasing the possibility of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol imbalance.
To counter this, a simple habit of eating healthy alternatives like hummus wrap, savoury oatmeal, and millet dosas can be relished. Chickpeas, oats, millet flour and veggies have great source of plant-based protein and fiber which improves your good gut bacteria and have low glycemic Index that helps to control blood sugar levels. Leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage, fenugreek leaves, kale and collard greens are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals that promote overall health and heart health.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming, especially with all the information out there. However, breaking down your health goals and making simple, easy changes to your everyday habits can help achieve a healthy lifestyle. (N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe)
Celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar busts some popular myths about diabetes, as she shares the right thing to do in her audiobook 'Eating in the Age of Dieting', available on Audible.
Myth 1: Avoid Bananas, But Apple is Okay!
"All fruits contain natural sugars, mostly fructose, which has a low glycaemic index," says Rujuta in her audiobook on Audible. Bursting this common myth among people, she says,"Banana is even approved by the American Diabetes Association but shunned by doctors and dietitians in the country of its origin. Banana is not just safe but recommended for people with diabetes as it is mineral-rich and helps prevent high BP too."
Myth 2: Avoid Sugar in Chai/Coffee, But Biscuits Like Marie and Digestive Are Okay
"That teaspoon or even two of sugar in your chai is much better than the low-grade sugar, trans-fat, and emulsifier-rich biscuit/cracker," says Rujuta. Instead, she suggests, "If you must beat diabetes, then you must see that the real risk comes from the unregulated intake of food and misinformation about what is good or bad for you. So have the chai with sugar but limit it to a max of two to three cups a day, and don't touch biscuits and the likes."
Myth 3: Ghee Specifically and Fat in General, Must Be Avoided
Nothing could be further away from the truth. "Ghee and coconut both have the essential fatty acids that further support insulin, protect the heart, and help maintain the intestinal mucosa. So if you are diabetic, the one thing that you can't afford to miss out on is fat, and more specifically, ghee. Eat loads of it!" says Rujuta in her audiobook on Audible.
Myth 4: Walking is The Best Exercise. The Cardio is Good
While most of us believe walking daily is enough, Rujuta recommends "Lift weights and join a gym. Train your big muscles and develop strength in them, as loss of strength from the body is directly linked to insulin resistance and the incidence of diabetes. If you are diabetic, gymming is the best exercise for you."
Myth 5: Once You Are Diabetic, You Stay Diabetic
"Not true! It's easy to regulate blood sugars and support insulin function through the right approach to diet, exercise, and lifestyle" says Rujuta Diwekar in her audiobook on Audible. Forever an advocate for local and traditional food, she adds,"Eating traditional, local and seasonal is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to stay healthy. We have been systematically taken away from our native eating habits and introduced to new ones to live healthier lives. But in the bargain, we have gotten fatter, sicker, and diabetic."
PS: It's never too late to change though. Start small, start with the basics: work out, eat the way your grandmom taught you to and regulate your bedtime. Your stress and sugar both will climb down and your confidence will climb up. (Agency)
Read More► A Guide to Protect Your Skin From Pollution
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