Diabetes- a Lifestyle Disease: Revisiting the basics
On the eve of World Diabetes Day, this 14th November, let us look into Diabetes, types of Diabetes, and what our lifestyle has got to do with Diabetes. There are broadly two types of Diabetes, namely Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is the less common type and is due to autoimmune causes. Those with Type 1 Diabetes need Insulin injections, along with good diet control and exercise.
While this is so, type 2 Diabetes is the more common type, accounting for about 90 percent of the total Diabetes cases. Type 2 Diabetes is usually due to genetic causes, obesity and also due to one’s lifestyle. Hence, the common adage that Diabetes is a Life style Disease.
Speaking of lifestyle, one needs to remember that we are speaking not just about the food we eat, exercise we do or don’t do, but also other aspects such as smoking, alcohol intake, sleeping habits, and the way we lead our lives.
Diet plays a crucial role in the prevention of type 2 Diabetes. Grazing on junk food regularly and overeating even healthy food can lead to obesity which in turn can lead to lifestyle diseases such as Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. On the contrary, if one were to take good care of one’s diet, it is not only possible to control blood sugar in those who have Diabetes, but also feasible to reverse type 2 Diabetes, in early stages of the disease. Such is the importance of diet control in both prevention and management of Diabetes.
Exercise is as important as diet in the prevention of type 2 Diabetes and management of all types of Diabetes. Lack of regular physical activity can lead to obesity and type 2 Diabetes. Regular physical activity is essential for control of blood glucose in those with Diabetes. Benefits of exercise are beyond good glucose control, as regular exercise helps prevent hypertension, heart disease and helps in keeping fit and maintaining agility.
Diabetes, together with hypertension is the most common cause of kidney disease, heart disease, brain strokes, vision loss and limb amputations. Diabetes can cause damage to nerves leading to neuropathy. These complications can be averted through prevention and appropriate management of Diabetes by following a healthy lifestyle. In the busy world we live in, that is filled with technology and gadgets, most of us have compromised on sound sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to obesity and Diabetes. Sleep deprivation can be the cause of heart disease, stress and many other health disorders.
Smoking and alcohol consumption play their due role in increasing the risk of developing Diabetes, and also poor glucose control in those with Diabetes. They accelerate the various complications of Diabetes. Smoking can increase insulin resistance leading to higher chances of developing Diabetes and also poor glucose control if one has Diabetes already. This apart, smoking multiplies the risk of various vascular complications in those with Diabetes, be it heart disease, brain strokes, gangrene or erectile dysfunction in men.
Alcohol and the calories that alcohol contributes along with the junk food consumed, has a deleterious effect on body weight, glucose levels, nervous system and the liver. The adverse effects of smoking and the damage caused by alcohol to the body, especially in those with diabetes, need a full book to write in proper detail!
Hope this article convinces atleast some of the readers to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to keep diabetes and other lifestyle diseases at bay. Time to ponder over, if it is time to adapt a healthy lifestyle if one hasn’t already!
Dr. Ravi Sankar Erukulapati
Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills.