Diabetes is a metabolic disorder known as the ‘silent epidemic’. It affects millions of people globally. Diabetes may occur in any person regardless of age and gender. In this era, trendy diets are gaining attention. Such a change in lifestyle and eating habits contributes to diabetes. Foods that are processed high in fat and sugars are a significant cause.
Statistics show that approximately 537 million adults have diabetes. The prevalence may reach 643 million by 2030. However, the solution is simple. Diabetes occurs due to different factors, differing from person to person. Therefore, knowing the cause is essential to understanding its treatment. However, following a healthy diet and staying physically active help reduce its risk.
This article has all the possible natural ways to help you manage this silent epidemic.
What Happens in Diabetes?
In people without diabetes, insulin converts glucose from food to energy. It is how the body gets the power to function. Diabetes impairs insulin secretion or action. It causes the glucose to stay in the blood and does not convert to energy for the body to use. Therefore, the blood sugar levels shoot up.
Diabetes is a rise in blood sugar levels above the normal range. Insulin also helps the muscles to utilise energy from glucose. However, in people with diabetes, this process is also hindered. Therefore, the body doesn’t get energy even with high glucose levels. Thus, the patient might need insulin injections or medicines.
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Beta cells of the pancreas secrete insulin. However, it may damage the liver in type 1 diabetes mellitus. Therefore, the body fails to produce insulin. Hence, you require an artificial source of insulin, available in injections or insulin pumps. Thus, type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. It is also otherwise known as juvenile diabetes.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is damage to pancreatic cells. These occur due to:
Type 2 Diabetes
In this type, the body produces insulin. However, it does not use insulin efficiently. As a result, it impairs the utilisation of glucose. It is called insulin resistance. In some cases, insulin secretion is absent, causing poor glucose utilisation.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. A person can initially manage it without medications by following a healthy lifestyle. Even in severe forms of diabetes, a patient can reduce the doses. However, it needs proper dietary management. You may suffer severe illnesses like heart disease and obesity without appropriate dietary management. Additionally, it may also cause kidney failure and nervous system damage.
Pre-diabetes is a stage before the start of diabetes. In pre-diabetes, the sugar level is high. However, it is not enough to be considered diabetes. People recognising diabetes at this stage should take precautionary measures by adapting to a healthy lifestyle and preventing the onset of severe stages of diabetes.
Some other lesser-known types of diabetes are:
- Gestational diabetes
- Monogenic diabetes
- Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.
The leading cause of diabetes is obesity. But studies also suggest other factors for the cause of diabetes, such as:
- Lack of physical activity
- Obesity and insulin resistance due to belly fat
- Family history
- Genetic mutations: cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis.
- Diseases due to hormonal imbalance: hyperthyroidism, acromegaly, Cushing syndrome.
- Certain medications
Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes often goes unnoticed, and its symptoms develop slowly. Some of the signs to watch out for are:
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
- Excessive hair fall,
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Delayed wound healing
Is it Possible to Control Diabetes Without Medications?
In type 1, you need to compensate for the lack of insulin in the body. Therefore, it requires an external source. However, during the early onset, insulin production is present. Hence you can manage it with lifestyle modifications and weight loss. However, if the condition worsens, it may not be sufficient. In these circumstances, lifestyle or dietary changes do not help. Hence, insulin in the form of medication is necessary. However, these patients also require lifestyle changes to manage diabetes. They should practise healthy food habits to reduce further impairment to the body. Ultimately, it helps reduce the risk of other related diseases.
Natural Ways of Diabetes Management
The primary causes of diabetes revolve around your body weight and eating habits. Hence, it is essential to look after these factors to prevent and control diabetes naturally. Making some changes in your lifestyle and some dietary modifications can help.
Physical activity in any form is essential. It is a vital lifestyle modification. For example, spend 30 minutes every day exercising. It has several health benefits, including diabetes management. These physical activities can be of any type and can be as simple as walking, jogging, or cycling. Swimming, dancing, aerobics and weight lifting are also good options.
Regular exercising boosts insulin production in the body. Therefore, these activities help reduce blood sugar levels. As a result, they contribute to a reduced risk of developing diabetes. A research study suggests that exercise lowers blood sugar levels. It also helps the muscles use glucose more efficiently. Consult a fitness trainer for a planned exercise regimen.
Extra weight in the body increases insulin resistance. For example, belly fat causes insulin resistance. Therefore, maintaining a healthy BMI (19-25 kg/m2) helps manage diabetes. Obese and overweight people are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Studies suggest that losing 10% of the total body weight may help regulate diabetes. It contributes to both the prevention and treatment of diabetes. It is particularly beneficial in post-menopausal women.
Studies suggest that lack of sleep increase insulin resistance, which may cause type 2 diabetes. Fewer hours of sleep increases blood sugar levels. Additionally, it also increases fatty acids in the body. Consequently, it affects the action of insulin, increasing the risk of diabetes.
Inadequate sleep is also the cause of obesity and heart diseases. A sound sleep of 7-9 hours is essential. Sleeping in complete darkness helps improve sleep quality. Avoid using electronics at least an hour before sleeping. Also smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption before bedtime must be avoided.
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking and alcohol consumption worsen diabetes. Studies suggest that they increase insulin resistance. It also increases the risk of developing diabetes. In addition, they also increase the risk of heart diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid smoking and alcohol to prevent diabetes.
Due to stress, the body releases stress hormones. These hormones may cause a rise in blood glucose levels. Therefore, managing stress is crucial to preventing diabetes and reducing the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
First, identify the reason behind stress. Then, practice stress-busting activities. Studies suggest that stress management helps improve blood sugar levels. You can do it through relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, etc. It will help if you seek help from professional practitioners.
A healthy diet helps manage metabolic conditions. It also contributes to the prevention of certain diseases. A balanced diet improves the overall health of a person. For example, the consumption of vegetables and fruits may help prevent diabetes. A diabetic person should consume fat-rich foods in moderation. You can include healthy sources of fats such as nuts. However, fats from red meat and packaged foods are not advisable. Instead, it can consist of lean meat, eggs and fish. Always stay hydrated.
Research suggests that high blood sugar levels increase urination. It is due to the glucose pulling more water into the kidneys. Therefore, foods that raise blood sugar increase urination. Keep consuming enough water to keep yourself hydrated.
Portion control or consuming small meals at regular intervals helps in weight management. Research shows that small frequent meals improve blood glucose control. Hence, eating small portions of a well-balanced meal in small gaps is beneficial. On the other hand, too little food causes hypoglycemia, and overeating leads to hyperglycemia. Thus proper planning of meals is essential to achieve portion control. Some basic tips to consider:
- Use smaller plates. It helps control portions.
- Including green vegetables also helps in controlling calorie intake.
Consult a dietitian to get a personalised diet plan.
Carbohydrate and Fats
Excess of carbohydrates and fats in your diet is the leading cause of diabetes. Therefore, counting your carbohydrate intake is an effective method. It helps plan a balanced meal for people with diabetes. In addition, it helps manage and control blood sugar levels.
Studies suggest that consuming 200-250 grams of carbohydrates per day is ideal. Reduce the intake of foods rich in refined carbohydrates. Foods like white bread may worsen diabetes. They raise blood sugar levels. Furthermore, some fruits like bananas and mango are high in carbs, making them harmful for people with diabetes.
Always choose foods with a low Glycaemic Index. (GI=55 and less) Foods like barley, oats, lentils and beans are low GI.
Saturated fats are also harmful. Therefore, consume them in moderation. Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil may reduce the risk of diabetes. Steaming and grilling the foods are a better option. Cooking methods that use excess oil should be limited.
Examples of high fibre foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, etc. Fibre helps in feeling full for longer. Therefore, it prevents cravings for unhealthy foods. Furthermore, it helps in a gradual rise in sugar levels.
Studies suggest that a high fibre diet reduces the risk of diabetes. That is because the soluble fibre rich foods maintain glucose levels in the blood. As a result, they help manage blood sugar levels.
The more fibre in a particular food, the better its effect is on diabetes. Thirty-five grams of fibre/day for men and 25 grams for women/day is ideal. Additionally, fibres also play a significant role in weight management.
Studies show that probiotics may reduce blood glucose levels. They also improve insulin resistance. In addition, they promote healthy gut microbiota and reduce inflammation. Therefore, they also prevent infections. Some probiotic foods are yoghurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables.
- Chromium and Magnesium
Chromium and magnesium are involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Therefore, the deficiency of these minerals may increase the risk of diabetes. Hence, you should consume enough chromium and magnesium-enriched foods in your diet. Some chromium-rich foods are meat, whole grains, and nuts. Some magnesium-rich foods are green leafy vegetables, tuna, dark chocolates, and avocados.
Studies indicate that natural sweeteners help control calorie intake. In addition, they prevent rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. Therefore, they are a better alternative to sugar. On the other hand, foods rich in refined sugars worsen hyperglycemia. Therefore, foods like sweets and chocolates are not advisable. In addition, certain fruit juices and sugary drinks are also harmful.
Best Foods to Manage Diabetes Naturally
It has several benefits in reducing glucose levels. Studies suggest that fenugreek water helps lower blood sugar levels. First, soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Then, drink the water in the morning.
It is a spice that is beneficial in diabetes management. Like fenugreek, you can also take the cinnamon powder with water. In addition, research shows that cinnamon may help manage blood sugar levels.
It helps in controlling blood glucose levels. Studies suggest that it may lower blood sugar levels. Additionally, it also helps in weight loss. You can consume it as a side dish.
Other foods rich in medicinal properties that can help fight diabetes are amla, drumstick, aloe vera and mango leaves.
Besides naturally available foods, some products are available to control diabetes. Food substances like herbs and greens formulate these commercial products.
Diabetes management techniques are pretty simple. Lifestyle and dietary changes are beneficial. Furthermore, regular monitoring of glucose levels is vital as it helps track blood glucose control and help prevent diabetes. You can try using a portable glucometer to track your sugar levels. Try measuring the glucose levels before and after meals and before and after any physical activity. It will guide you in the right way to move towards diabetes management.
Furthermore, always consult a doctor if the condition becomes severe. You may also add cinnamon and bitter gourd to your diet, as they can be beneficial. Other management techniques include portion control. Additionally, consuming low GI foods also controls the spike in blood sugar levels. Therefore, avoid eating junk foods or occasionally, have them in moderation. Consult a dietitian for a personalised diet plan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are four ways to manage diabetes?
A. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and can occur in any person regardless of age and gender. It occurs due to different factors, and knowing the cause is essential to understanding its treatment. 4 ways to manage diabetes are- Lifestyle modification, dietary changes, medication and monitoring.
Q. How can I control my diabetes without medication?
A. You can manage diabetes without medication in its initial stages. You can do it by leading a healthy lifestyle, pursuing weight loss, eating a low Glycemic Index healthy diet, indulging in regular exercise and managing stress. Even in severe forms of diabetes, it is possible to reduce the doses. However, it needs proper dietary management. If not effectively managed, it may result in serious illnesses.
Q. Does exercise reverse diabetes?
A. Yes, exercise helps the body become more insulin sensitive. However, when combined with a healthy diet, exercise can effectively reduce the demand for insulin in the body. Thus, it helps reverse diabetes.
Q. How do you lower your blood sugar immediately?
A. When your blood sugar level rises too high (a condition known as hyperglycaemia or high blood glucose), the quickest way to lower it is to use fast-acting insulin. Another quick and effective way to lower blood sugar is to exercise. But if you have incredibly high blood sugar, you should go to the hospital rather than treat it at home.
Q. Is fasting good for diabetes?
A. No, fasting stimulates the hormone glucagon, which raises plasma glucose levels in the body. It puts a person with diabetes at risk of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. In addition, it causes blood sugar fluctuations during and after fasting.
Q. Can you recover from diabetes?
A. There’s no permanent cure for diabetes. However, you can maintain normal blood sugar levels by changing your diet and exercising, but this does not mean you are free from it. Diabetes is an ongoing disease.
Q. What foods can reverse diabetes?
A. Choose foods with a lower Glycaemic Index (GI=55 and less) like barley, oats, lentils and beans etc. They are also higher in fibre and protein. You can also include green leafy vegetables, fatty fish and nuts and seeds containing healthy fats like omega3 and omega 6. Whole grains and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables also helps.
Q. How can I get rid of diabetes permanently?
A. There is currently no permanent cure for diabetes. However, you can put the disease into remission. Diabetes remission occurs when your body shows no signs of the disease, even though the condition is technically still present.