Dr. Tasaduk Hussain Itoo


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As per a report published in Lancet in 2014, India has over 61 million diabetics and the forecast is that there will be 100 million diabetics by 2030. China is the world capital for diabetes with India a close second. More than 70 per cent of middle aged Indians will suffer with non-insulin dependent diabetes during their lifetime. India contributes nearly one-sixth to the global disease burden of 422 million. Almost every organ in the body can be adversely affected with the onset of diabetes.

But with timely intervention and care, the disease can be kept under check. It is true that increase in longevity and population growth have been responsible for the spike in diabetes in India, but going forward it is raising levels of obesity that could well be the more significant contributing factor. Obesity is the most important risk factor for diabetes.

According to the same paper published in The Lancet, the number of obese men in India increased from 0.4 million in 1975 to 9.8 million in 2014; and from 0.8 million to 20 million women during the same period. Indeed, in 2014 there were 3.7 million severely obese women in the country. Though diabetes is caused by a complex interaction of genetic and lifestyle factors, the another most obvious reason for this increase in the number of young diabetics is their frenetic lifestyle.


Symptoms could be excessive thirst, excessive appetite and excessive urination as well as swelling of feet. Delayed wound healing, frequent infections, nausea, vomiting and weight loss may be other symptoms. Diabetes is one of the diseases that affect the endocrine system. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin. In Type 1 diabetes, the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed. In Type 2 diabetes, insulin is still produced but the body becomes resistant to it. Endocrinologists can help you manage your diabetes, by prescribing insulin and/or medications, and offering diet plans.


Diabetes may damage almost every tissue and organ of the body, the kidney being one of them. If neglected, a person could go into diabetic nephropathy. Albumin in the urine, blood urea and creatinine levels should be checked once a month. Diabetics should avoid painkillers. They should watch out for swelling of the feet, extreme fatigue, weakness and breathlessness. Obese children should also be screened for diabetes.


A diabetic should take special care of his feet. Watch out for numbness, foot ulcers and carefully examine spaces between the toes and the soles of the feet. Socks should be washed regularly and changed every day and one should use footwear, preferably with ankle support. Nails should not be cut short and sharp edges should be filed. Special care should be taken by those who plan to go on temple visits and have to walk barefoot. Almost 75 percent of amputations are carried out in neuropathic feet with secondary infection, which are potentially preventable.


The eyes of a diabetic also need special attention and care. Regular eye check-ups are a must. The retina could get affected, and blood vessels in the eye could leak blood. Diabetes also produces early cataract. In extreme cases, the patient can lose eyesight.


There is also a link between depression and diabetes.Research studies have also demonstrated that the chances of developing diabetes was more amongst persons with current depressive and/or anxiety disorders. Some of the newer drugs used in the treatment of mental disorders might increase blood sugar levels. It is now important to monitor all patients on such drugs for their blood sugar levels.


Diabetics have a higher risk of cardio vascular disease (CVD). Diabetes is a generalised micro and macro vascular disease, affecting various organs. A concerted attempt to identify pre-diabetics and intervene to reverse the metabolic abnormality will prevent further increase in the prevalence of diabetes.


  1. CUT SUGAR AND REFINED CARBS FROM YOUR DIET : Eating foods high in refined carbs and sugar increases blood sugar and insulin levels, which may lead to diabetes over time. Avoiding these foods may help reduce your risk.
  2. WORK OUT REGULARLY : Performing physical activity on a regular basis can increase insulin secretion and sensitivity, which may help prevent the progression from prediabetes to diabetes.

Drinking water instead of other beverages may help control blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.

  1. LOSE WEIGHT IF YOU’RE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE : Carrying excess weight, particularly in the abdominal area, increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. Losing weight may significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.
  2. QUIT SMOKING : Smoking is strongly linked to the risk of diabetes, especially in heavy smokers. Quitting has been shown to reduce this risk over time.
  3. FOLLOW A VERY -LOW-CARB DIET : Following a ketogenic or very-low-carb diet can help keep blood sugar and insulin levels under control, which may protect against diabetes.
  4. WATCH PORTION SIZES : Avoiding large portion sizes can help reduce insulin and blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of diabetes.
  5. AVOID SEDENTARY BEHAVIORS : Avoiding sedentary behaviors like excessive sitting has been shown to reduce your risk of getting diabetes.
  6. EAT A HIGH-FIBER DIET : Consuming a good fiber source at each meal can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which may help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
  7. OPTIMIZE VITAMIN D LEVELS : Consuming foods high in vitamin D or taking supplements can help optimize vitamin D blood levels, which can reduce your risk of diabetes.
  8. MINIMIZE YOUR INTAKE OF PROCESSED FOODS : Minimizing processed foods and focusing on whole foods with protective effects on health may help decrease the risk of diabetes.
  9. DRINK COFFEE OR TEA : Drinking coffee or tea may help reduce blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of diabetes.
  10. CONSIDER TAKING THESE NATURAL HERBS : The herbs curcumin and berberine increase insulin sensitivity, reduce blood sugar levels and may help prevent diabetes.


Preventive health check-up and a year-round management of health and wellness customised to one’s health profile and screenings are absolutely essential. Coherent efforts must be directed at preventing and delaying the onset of the disease. A relatively easy and short-term intervention that can go a long way in keeping the disease burden under check is to diagnose and treat gestational diabetes — mostly through dietary changes and physical activity. The management of gestational diabetes, which can prevent the disease in mother and child, has unfortunately not got the same attention as prevention of vertical transmission of HIV. Another missed opportunity is early detection of pre-diabetes when the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not elevated enough to be classified as diabetes. The progression to full-blown diabetes can be effectively delayed and even prevented through dietary changes and increased physical activity. This is why public awareness is crucial.

The writer is Medical Officer at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Super Speciality Hospital Jammu.

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