YOUNG, FIT... BUT WAIT... INSULIN WHAAAAAAATT ??

Dr Isra Halim
Dr Isra Halim

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This article was written on World Diabetes Day (November 14,2018)

WOLRD DIABETES DAY ( 14 NOVEMBER) .. SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ??? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As I scrolled down my social media wall yesterday, I noticed my predominantly Indian friend circle share pictures, statuses and memoirs from their yesteryears wishing everyone a very Happy childrens day. As is usual in a few seconds, I land up on SQUATS, browsing through random posts reminding me of another significant day today, something more relevant to us adults- International Diabetes Day - one that Indians should be even more wary about, for we are- not proudly- the Diabetic capital of the world. The moment I say diabetes, I would have lost a majority of the young readers, “Naah, not me” before they scroll down to more the appealing latest personality quiz on Facebook. Little do they realize that Diabetes doesn’t just happen one fine morning. It takes years, and even decades to get there. You and I, as much as we think we are healthy, may be diabetics of the future. Many years before diabetes is diagnosed, we go through a sequence of events, viz . 1. Insulin resistance 2. Prediabetes 3. And finally, full blown diabetes The bad news is Insulin resistance doesn’t come invited, nor noisy. You and I may be insulin resistant just right now, without even realizing. What’s worse is once insulin resistant, we have a huge chance of developing diabetes in the coming years. The good news. The earlier the action, the easier the reversal. Now is the time to work upon yourself. The tiniest lifestyle changes right now will lead you to a life free of finger pricks, medication and insulin shots thrice a day. What does being insulin resistant mean? Consider your body to be divided into two compartments- the cells and the blood compartment. Whatever you eat is eventually converted to simple sugar and is sent to the cells for use or storage. Imagine the cells are one big sugar bowl- that’s where the sugar is meant to be. At some point, the bowl overflows. Into the blood stream. The body gets into a little housekeeping mode, and releases insulin. As we’d broom the dust from under the rug, insulin would put the sugar where it’s meant to be- in the cells. Insulin does this following every single meal we have throughout our lives, but one day over years of accumulated sugar, anymore cleaning is beyond insulin’s capacity. The sugar accumulates, milligram by milligram. And the body sends out eve more insulin to combat the excess. But nothing happens. And suddenly we have an excess of sugar in the blood, excess insulin to clean up that mess. Insulin, by the way, makes you hungrier, stores more fat and increases craving. According to you, you have eaten healthy all the while. According to you, your only sin is the sugar in your coffee. You eat healthy but unquantified. You buy from among the best health food options. Just like that, a tiny breeze collapses the stack of cards you thought you were building well. Lo and behold, you are suddenly insulin resistant! Here’s the simplest practical advice if you are insulin-resistant ? 1. WATCH WHAT YOU EAT: EVERYDAY The rosugulla at Durga Puja or the kaju katli at Diwali is not the only thing you need to watch out for. Cut out the excess carbohydrates. You do not need the extra sugar or the extra chapati. You are doing absolutely no good to your body eating an excess of what your body needs. That protein bar, or the health food stall that shouts out loud ‘multigrain’ or ‘diabetes friendly’ is just unnecessary. Not even that enormous fruit bowl that you’ve been told will help fight diabetes. Common sense and science will tell you it will do nothing besides spiking your insulin even more. 2. WHAT IS FAT FREE IS ACTUALLY CARB OR CHEMICAL RICH We have three basic macronutrients, carbs, proteins and fats. It doesn’t take rocket science for you to figure out what’s less on one macronutrient will have others. And as been proven time and again, fat doesn’t make you fat. Or diabetic. Fat, infact, is one macronutrient that stimulates the least insulin release in your body. That is exactly what we are looking for in an insulin-resistant or pre-diabetic state 3. IF YOU ARE A DIABETIC, OR A PRE-DIABETIC, MODERATE GPS Grains, Potato, Starch. Remember, neither of them cause diabetes. Neither are they ‘bad food’. What they do is alter the insulin response of your body in a way that worsens the insulin resistance. Moderation is the key. A diabetic on insulin could also have carbohydrates- the key being controlled and quantified carbohydrates distributed in an efficient way to neither increase nor decrease your sugar levels abruptly 4. SCREEN FOR INSULIN RESISTANCE- THIS IS IMPORTANT !! Diabetes is a result of years and years of incorrect eating. The Indian diet being a predominantly carbohydrate rich diet doesn’t make matters merry either. A simple blood screen, even if you are 30 years of age, at a normal weight, but have erratic and unquantified eating habits would do more good than harm. The earlier this is taken care of the better. THE BOTTOMLINE: Diabetes can be avoided. Take action early. A stitch in time saves nine. Diabetes can be managed. Your sugar levels may fluctuate less. Your drug doses may reduce. All it needs a little discipline and conscious lifestyle changes. ***Diabetes is a ‘food’disease. Don’t let yourself reach a stage where you need medicine to treat food. *** Disclaimer: The article in no way intends to encourage going against the advice of your doctor or proclaim a particular diet strategy to work better than others.

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