Diabetes is a disorder caused by inadequate production, or defective action of the hormone insulin in the body. This leads to higher-than-normal glucose (sugar) levels in the blood, some of which also overflows into the urine. In the long run, it can lead to diseases of other organs such as eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and feet.
People with diabetes may complain of excess urination, thirst and hunger with weight loss. They may also experience aches and pains, numbness and tingling of feet, and itching in the private parts. Some patients note that wounds take longer than usual to heal. However, most patients with diabetes have no symptoms at all.
There are three main types of diabetes- type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). There are also other rare causes of diabetes such as monogenic diabetes and fibrocalculous pancreatic diabetes. More than 90% of adults with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin at all. The patient therefore needs to take insulin injections lifelong, failing which serious complications including death may ensue. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas continues to produce some amounts of insulin, but this insulin is unable to act properly leading to high blood sugars. These patients can be treated with lifestyle modification in the early stages and medications later on. Some of them will also eventually require insulin. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in childhood and type 2 in adulthood, but either type can occur at any age.
Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes. However, even lean individuals can develop type 2 diabetes, especially in India.
Women who are overweight or obese, have a strong family history of diabetes and have delivered a big baby (weighing >3.5 kg) in the past are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. However, all Asian Indian women are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes, notwithstanding the presence or absence of the above risk factors.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that all the adults above the age of 45 years should be screened for diabetes. They also recommend screening at earlier age if other risk factors are present, such as overweight/obesity, family history of diabetes or history of gestational diabetes. In the Asian Indian population, screening should start at an earlier age on account of their high risk of developing diabetes.
Most of the diabetes seen in children is type 1 diabetes. However, there is an increasing trend in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among children in recent years. This is due to adoption of unhealthy lifestyles and consequent development of overweight and obesity. The risk is increased if one or both of the parents also has diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by lifestyle modifications such as regular physical activity and healthy diet, aimed at maintaining an appropriate body weight and losing excess weight, if any. Unfortunately, there is, as of now, no effective way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
  • Cereals like wheat, rice, root vegetables have high glycemic index , fruits have intermediate glycemic index, legumes and lentils such as beans, peas, green grams, Bengal gram have low glycemic index and are beneficial as they are rich in fibre
  • The staple carbohydrate is polished white rice which is low in fibre, hence has a high GI. Minimally polished rice varieties such as brown rice, Dr. Mohan’s high fibre rice have higher fibre and has medium Glycemic Index
  • Proteins from vegetable sources, low fat milk, milk products , fish and lean meat are preferable
  • Oils like canola oil, rice bran oil, groundnut oil, gingelly oil, sesame oil are recommended. Safflower, sunflower oil if used should be with equal quantity of one of the above oils. Butter, ghee, vanaspathi, palm oil, coconut oil are rich in saturated fats and are better avoided.
  • Recommendations are to avoid simple carbohydrates like sugars, honey, jaggery, sweets. Refined flour, white bread, fully polished rice etc
  • Should follow four meal patterns with intermediary low-calorie food in-between and meals to be taken on time
Yes, by all means you can engage in all forms of physical activity. However, if you are using insulin or any other medication that can cause low blood sugar, you may need to adjust the doses of these and/or ensure adequate carbohydrate intake during exercise. Your doctor/ diabetes educator will be able to assist you regarding this.
The 'Lets Defeat Diabetes’ Campaign is a community empowerment programme. We aim to spread the awareness about diabetes prevention and control especially among youth. We want to encourage healthier lifestyles and habits today in order to ensure a healthy, diabetes free tomorrow.
Yes, anyone can take the pledge. This is a public service campaign to stop the spread of diabetes in the community.