It’s extremely important we understand what diabetes is and how we can work towards a diabetes-free life.
In today’s world of stress and hectic schedules, people are not aware but diabetes is becoming a silent epidemic where its effects are seen in every second person we know. Diabetes is a condition in which a person has high blood sugar. The sugar level increases when either the body is unable to produce ufficient insulin or when it becomes resistant to its effect. The former is known as type 1 diabetes & the latter as type 2 diabetes.
Our body contains glucose which provides energy to it for carrying out its various functions. The increase of glucose concentration in the blood is called diabetes. Glucose enters our cells through a hormone called insulin. In diabetes, either the body does not produce insulin, which is known as type 1 diabetes or it becomes resistant to its effect, known as type 2 diabetes. This results in the glucose level rising in the blood and causing a supply deficit in the cells thus causing various problems in the body. Also, known as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes is more common and it is a chronic condition. It usually affects older people and can be hereditary.
Obesity and lack of exercise too cause type 2 diabetes. If you are suffering from diabetes you should eat foods rich in complex carbs and fibre. Complex carbs take longer to digest and hence do not cause any sudden rise in the blood sugar level. It has also shown to reduce insulin resistance thereby benefiting the diabetic patients.
Diabetic people should be careful with their diet. You must consume foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre to maintain good sugar levels. Hence, foods like oats, millets like sorghum, finger millet, and pearl millet; (jowar, ragi, bajra), wheat bran, ragi,
bajra, quinoa, sprouts, and pulses and nuts such as almonds, walnuts & peanuts etc. should be eaten regularly. Also, raw vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, onions etc., and fruits like apples, pears, oranges, papayas are also a healthy choice when dealing with this condition.
Diabetes and Alcohol
Dietary restrictions are more the rule today than the exception. People have become health conscious and those who have diseases take extra precautions to control them. Alcohol is known for its harmful effects, though in small doses, it can provide health benefits. The
ideal amount prescribed for healthy people is:
1 Drink a day for women and 2 Drinks a day for men. People with health problems must consult their doctors before drinking alcohol, especially diabetics, as alcohol can affect diabetics adversely.
A look at how Alcohol affects Diabetics
Alcohol contains high levels of calories and it takes almost two hours for the liver to metabolise it. The liver is responsible for releasing glucose into the bloodstream, which regulates blood sugar levels. But, when the body contains alcohol, the liver triggers breaking it down and neglects its primary job of maintaining sugar levels in the body. This leads to low
levels of blood sugar or hypoglycaemia. In diabetics, this can be even more fatal as they already face the risks hypoglycaemia, especially the diabetics taking insulin. Thus, drinking alcohol can affect diabetes in several ways:
• Certain types of sweet alcohol, such as red wine or beer can raise blood sugar levels though in excess it always causes dangerous sugar level drops. Both situations can cause dangerous implications for diabetics.
• Alcohol stimulates the appetite, causing the diabetic to overeat and thus, adversely affects sugar control.
• Alcohol impairs judgment, inducing people to make wrong food choices.
• Alcohol increases blood pressure and leads to weight gain.
Finally, since alcohol produces the same symptoms as Hypoglycaemia in diabetics, it makes it difficult for others to know if a diabetic is experiencing a plain drinking buzz or suffering from the dangerous symptoms of a falling sugar level. The symptoms, which are common to drinking alcohol and hypoglycaemia, are slurring words, headache, confusion, double vision, abnormal behaviour and unconsciousness.
How can Diabetics safely drink Alcohol?
Diabetics, who want to drink alcohol, should consult their doctors before they start. It is also important to follow these simple tips while drinking:
• Never drink on an empty stomach, do have alcohol with some food, as food will slow down the absorption of alcohol.
• Avoid binge drinking and always drink slowly.
• Never mix sweet sodas, juices or such with your alcohol.
• Always carry a medical ID with you, besides glucose tablets, in case your sugar levels drop.
• Diabetics, who exercise face greater risks of low blood sugar, after drinking. They should not mix the two activities.
• Dark spirits, such as red wine, beer, whiskeys have higher calories, so try to substitute these with white spirits, such as white wine, vodka or gin.
• Stick to the standard limit of 1 drink a day, unless your doctor allows you more.
Besides this, it always helps to take a healthy diet, rich in antioxidants, complex carbohydrates and omega 3 fatty acids to keep the body at its optimum levels, besides improving its natural immunity.
By: GAURAV AGGARWAL
Director, Lasons India Pvt Ltd.