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Opinion

India faces a diabetes crisis. But you can avoid it: analysis

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India is a world leader in many wonderful ways. Unfortunately, India also leads the world in diabetes rates.

Think of diabetes, technically type 2, of the type that affects adults, such as ultimate metabolic breakdown. After years of poor quality diet, insufficient physical activity, and excessive weight gain, the body may stop responding efficiently to the hormone insulin, causing blood sugar to rise to dangerous levels. Chronically high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and other organs, and greatly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

According to one estimate, more than 100 million Indians will have diabetes by 2030, and many more will have pre-diabetes. If left unchecked, this epidemic will exacerbate a great deal of human suffering and also extend limited health care resources to the brink.

Although diabetes can run in families, this epidemic has escalated too quickly to blame genes. In fact, more than 90% of diabetes can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. Of course, staying slim and exercising regularly is very helpful, although these goals can be difficult to achieve for many people in the midst of our busy, modern life.

Fortunately, six simple diet changes can make a big difference.

As many people with diabetes know, carbohydrates raise blood sugar more than any other type of food. All carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in the body. But when carbohydrates are refined and processed, they digest too quickly, raising blood sugar too high. Naan, chapati, white rice, and the other refined grain products in the Indian diet, along with white potatoes, raise blood sugar as much as or more than the sugar itself. (And the Indians also eat a lot of sugar!)

On the contrary, proteins increase blood sugar a little and fats do not affect blood sugar at all. For this reason, a high fat / low carbohydrate diet was the foundation of diabetes treatment prior to the discovery of insulin. And contrary to what we were told during the low-fat era of the late 20th century, high-fat foods such as nuts, olive oil, and yogurt seem to protect against weight gain, while those refined grains, potatoes and sugar top the weight list. gain.

Which is not to say that everyone should give up all carbohydrates. Non-starchy vegetables, beans, and intact whole fruits are nutritious and slowly digested, and have a milder impact on blood sugar.

So, let’s start with the typical Indian meal, which could include three servings of processed carbohydrates at each meal. That’s nine a day, considering that a single serving of white rice is 1/3 cup and a single serving of bread is a 1 oz. Slice. Replace six of these nine servings with one of each of the following: whole grain or minimally processed grain: brown rice, old-fashioned or Irish oats, barley, beacon, etc. non-starchy vegetables: spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. non-tropical whole fruits: berries, apples, peaches, etc. walnuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, walnuts, etc. legumes: black or red beans, chickpeas; protein: including vegetarian options like tofu.

(With the remaining three servings of processed carbohydrates a day, you can enjoy a moderate amount of white rice or naan, and occasionally a sweet dessert.)

In this way, you will help control blood sugar and prevent diabetes, without having to count calories or feel deprived!

David S Ludwig is professor of nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. Dawn Ludwig is an acclaimed chef. Are they respectively authors of the bestsellers Always Hungry? and the Always Delicious cookbook

The opinions expressed are personall

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