Hyderabad: In the last one decade or so, diabetes has become the most talked-about medical condition and a source for several life-threatening ailments. Thanks to the lifestyle choices, within a few years, India now is home to a whopping 60 million adults who are diabetics while six to seven per cent of adults (15 years and 49 years) are diabetics in Telangana.
Almost every household in Hyderabad grapples with diabetes, as family members become chronic patients and depend on drugs to control their sugar levels. The struggle to check sugar levels has fuelled fad diets and numerous unproven treatment protocols that claim to cure diabetes.
Can we really reverse type 2 diabetes? Is remission of type 2 diabetes possible in such a way that individuals will not have symptoms anymore and doesn’t even need to depend on anti-diabetic medicines?
While there is no absolute cure for type 2 diabetes, there is, however, possibility of reversing the condition through diet options and of course deciding to make healthy choices i.e. leading a healthy lifestyle.
There is a dearth of scientific data-oriented studies on diabetes patients in India but a recent study conducted on close to 150 diabetics in the UK has thrown some interesting results. The UK study said 50 per cent of the subjects had achieved remission to a non-diabetic state and off anti-diabetic drugs by following a strict regimen of diet.
“Remission of type 2 diabetes is a practical target for primary care. It does need a coordinated effort from doctors, diet specialists and physiotherapists as a team. There is a definite need to focus on remission of diabetes to safeguard patients from diabetic complications,” says Dr P Janaki Srinath, national executive member, Indian Dietetic Association (IDA).
Individual diabetic patients can achieve remission of diabetes but have to make healthy choices in their lives. Adopting a total diet replacement, opting for formula diet designed by a trained dietician and having a structured weight management programme, which includes physical activity are sure way for individuals to lead a diabetes-free life.
Diets and their distinct features
Most nutritionists and experts consider low-carbohydrate diet ideal way to control sugar levels. Essentially, such a diet advocates cutting down on sugary foods, pasta etc. Usually, the diet is high on protein and healthy vegetables. Generally speaking, lower the carbohydrate intake the more likely one has a chance to lose weight and lower sugar levels.
Salient points in low-carb diet
High vegetable intake
Modest increase in fat intake from natural sources
Moderate protein intake
Low reliance upon processed food, sugar and grains
Fats and protein in low-carb diet
Reduced calories must be made up by consuming protein or fat
Natural sources of fat include meat, fish, dairy, eggs; nuts, avocado olives, olive oil.
Such fats provide a balance of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fat
Fat in processed foods and takeaways are manmade or processed
For protein, prefer unprocessed cuts of meat
Processed meats linked to higher rates of heart disease and even insulin resistance
Ketogenic diets are high on fat and involve drastic reduction of carbohydrate intake by replacing it with fat. The reduction in carbs puts the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis and when this happens the body becomes efficient at burning fat for energy. Ketosis is often designed as a process when body does not have enough glucose for energy, the body automatically starts using the stored fat to meet the energy demands of the body. Experts point out that ketogenic diets, if done right, can cause reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, this starting the remission process of diabetes
How it works?
Diet consists of 75 per cent fat, 20 per cent protein and 5 per cent carbohydrate
Usually followed for not more than 4 months
Must be taken strictly under medical supervision
Ketogenic diet not meant for:
Persons with gallbladder ailments, without a gallbladder; those who underwent bariatric surgery, people with inefficient pancreas, patients with kidney stones, rare metabolic disorders and people with anorexia
Medical supervision must for Very Low Calorie Diets
In recent times, Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) have become very popular following a slew of studies that have linked VLCD with reversing of type-2 diabetes. However, before blindly deciding to adopt such diet, one should remember that VLCDs are not for the faint-hearted and have to be taken under strict medical supervision.
The average recommended daily calorie intake for men is 2,500 calories and 2,000 calories for women in India. However, in very low calorie diets, the average food intake among adults does not cross 1,000 calories, which potentially can lead to many health complications, if not supervised by qualified physicians.
The VLCDs recently hit headlines when a study in Newcastle University linked reversing of diabetes among patients who were put on this diet. However, what one must remember is that patients who participated in the studies were under the watchful eyes of specialists.
According to the study, excess calories cause excess fat inside the liver due to which it does not properly respond to insulin and at the same time, produces a lot of glucose. Moreover, researchers say excessive fat in the liver is passed on to the pancreas, which causes insulin-producing cells to fail.
Losing a few grams of fat from the pancreas will immediately have a positive impact on insulin-producing cells and thus reversing type 2 diabetes.
Usually, such low calorie diets are suitable for people who are significantly overweight and had in the past struggled to lose weight despite eating healthy. Such diets are not prescribed or advised for pregnant women, children and even breastfeeding mothers.