Diabetes is a lifestyle disease caused as a result of insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance. The awareness about diabetes is relatively low; patients are often ignorant about their condition and hence do not take the necessary steps to manage and control the condition. Rahul Rosha, SVP, Care Transformation, BeatO, says, “Although this chronic disease persists irrespective of gender, reportedly, women around the world are comparatively more susceptible to the severe impact of its consequences. According to the latest National Family Health Survey-5, urban women are more susceptible to obesity and diabetes when compared to rural women. 33.2 per cent of urban women are obese in comparison to only 19.7 per cent rural women. Furthermore, 16.3 per cent of women in urban centres have high or very blood sugar levels (are under medication to control it) whereas only 12.3 per cent of women in rural areas suffer from such high levels of diabetes.” He adds that among Indian metropolitan cities, Chennai has the highest percentage of obese women at 41.9 per cent, whereas New Delhi and Bengaluru are close at 41.8 and 40.1 per cent.
For the longest time, the most concerning fact about diabetes has been its incurability. The best outcome anyone could expect in the past was a slower progression of its inevitable symptoms. However, over the years, the paradigm has been slowly changing, as we can see the term ‘diabetes reversal’ debuting and making frequent appearances in scientific articles. The World Health Organization (WHO), in one of its recent global reports on diabetes, had also included a section on this subject and acknowledged that diabetes reversal can be possible through certain lifestyle changes.
Dr Navneet Agarwal, Consulting Physician & Diabetologist, BeatO, says, “The exact criteria for diabetes reversal are still much debated, but the closest most qualified stage is when your haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is below the diabetes threshold of 6.5 per cent for an extended period without the assistance of glycemic control medications or surgical therapy. It is important to note that it is only reversible for patients with type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2 DM) or pre-diabetes.” He suggests consulting with your doctor and getting a thorough check-up of your body before committing to the process of reversal. Pregnant women are advised to follow the treatment prescribed by their doctor.
“Apart from lifestyle changes, regular glucose monitoring has shown that self management and awareness of blood sugar levels helps in lowering HbA1C significantly”, adds Dr Agrawal. He notes that diabetes reversal in T2 DM is dependent on several patient factors such as the age of the patient, body weight, c-peptide levels, duration of diabetes, enthusiasm/education to reverse diabetes, and unconditional support from friends and family.
Dr Agrawal shares simple lifestyle changes that can help you reverse the early stages of diabetes and pre-diabetes, and reduce your chances of getting it.
- Watch Your Carb Intake
Carbohydrates are a diabetic’s biggest enemy. Hence, the first step towards reversing diabetes has to be to cut down your daily carbs intake. Assess your overall health, as well as the amount of calories and carbs you are consuming on a regular basis. An average Indian consumes 60-70 per cent carbs regularly. If you are one of them, bring it down to 50 per cent or even less. In most cases, once you cut down your carbs intake by at least 10 per cent, the reversal process gets started and you will be able to see the results yourself. Make sure to add an adequate amount of protein and healthy fats to your diet to keep yourself satiated. A nutritious meal can be your best way out!
- Get Structured Physical Activity For Core Strength
Apart from giving your diet a nutritious upgrade, regular exercise should be one of the most important parts of your routine to bring your A1c down. You can choose whatever type of exercise you like, except it has to be challenging enough. While walking is considered a great form of exercise, do not ignore the importance of building a strong core. According to studies, better core strength goes a long way in reversing the impact of diabetes, as well as lowering the risk of strokes and heart diseases in a person.
- Get Enough Sleep
Good sleep is extremely necessary for all living beings, even if you are not diabetic. But if you have diabetes, you should make sure to get maximum amount of quality sleep in a day. It is crucial for diabetics to get at least seven to eight hours of proper sleep for cleansing of the body’s mechanism and enabling it to work smoothly. It is also recommended to keep a two-hour gap between dinner and bedtime. Lack of proper sleep continuously for a few days can lead to a spike in fasting blood sugar levels.
- Do Not Skip Medication
Good diet, exercise and sleep are all very important for a successful reversal of diabetes. However, if your doctor has prescribed medication, it is equally, or even more important to take it as prescribed. Skipping on your doses regularly might lead to your blood sugar levels creeping up, causing your A1c to shoot. Following your prescribed medication plan will help you keep blood sugar under control and lower your A1c, which will eventually reflect upon your health. Additionally, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. In case your goal is to stop having to depend on medication, you should share it with your doctor, so they can plan your treatment accordingly.
- Set Realistic Goals For Weight Loss
Not every diabetic person is overweight, and even if you are, you may not require to shed as much weight as you think to make a difference in your A1c level. The most recommended weight loss programme can range from 5 to 10 per cent of your current weight. There is no point setting up impossible goals, as the average HbA1c reduction under expert guidance can only be as much as 1.8 per cent in weeks.
In conclusion, Dr Agrawal says, “Sustainability is the key when it comes to following a routine. Stick to your routine and give it time. Apart from the above tips, also follow sensible sustenance, particularly in diet, stress management, and self-control.”