How to Prevent Diabetes
If you think that diabetes is an old man’s disease and you are safe from it, then we beg you to think again. Overweight, over-stressed and poor lifestyle observers are easy targets for this lifestyle disease, even at the young age of 20. While diabetes can be genetic, doctors say that type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) can be prevented by following a proper lifestyle. We had a word with AIIMS Dr (Col) Surender Kumar, Endocrinologist to the President of India, and Dr. P K D Shah, Sr. Consultant- medicine and endocrinology at Rockland Hospital about the top 5 ways to prevent type 2 diabetes:
I. Exercise regularly
Dr (Col) Surender Kumar: Regular exercise for at least 5 to 6 days in a week is a must. Opt for 30 minutes of intense exercise where the heart rate is double. Brisk walking or jogging and muscle building through weight lifting are good.
Dr. P K D Shah: Have an active lifestyle, which means one must exercise at least 20-30 minutes in a day. Aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling and swimming are good. Improving physical activity is one major step in preventing type 2 diabetes.
II. Stress reduction
Dr (Col) Surender Kumar: Stress reduction, both - at home and at workplace, is a must. Meditation, music, giving and getting love and respect from children, contentment in life, learning to forgive and keeping pets at home are a few ways through which one can combat stress.
Dr. P K D Shah: Make sure you are sleeping for 8 hours at night as various studies have shown that less than 6 hours of shut-eye time can put you at a greater risk of diabetes. Also, avoid sleeping too much, as sleeping too long because of sleep apnea is also linked to diabetes.
III. Maintain your weight
Dr (Col) Surender Kumar: Keep BMI (weight in kgs divided by square of height in metres) at around 22- 23. And waistline for males should be less than 90, and for females less than 80 cms.
Dr. P K D Shah: Maintain your body weight, that is, do not gain too much weight above the ideal body weight. And as far as possible, avoid abdominal fat which causes insulin insensitivity leading to DM type II. If obese, try and reduce at least a few kilograms in order to get a head start.
IV. Eat a healthy diet
Dr (Col) Surender Kumar: Small frequent meals i.e. total daily calories load is divided into 3 small meals and 3 snacks, roughly at three hourly intervals. Avoid excess of refined carbohydrates and fats.
Dr. P K D Shah: Eat a healthy diet with high fiber, low fat, optimal calories for age and complex carbohydrates. A healthy diet should have sufficient calories as required at a particular age and work type, it should be high in fiber and low in fat. Do not over-eat or over-drink. One must enjoy ones' meal or a drink or two once in a while but over-drinking and over-eating adds extra calories, which are converted into fat in the body causing insulin intolerance and thus obesity.
V. Self risk assessment & annual investigation
Dr (Col) Surender Kumar: Those with a family history of diabetes, or those who are overweight/obese, follow a sedentary life style, and have waistlines beyond 102 cms (for men) and 85 cms (for women), or a history of diabetes during pregnancy are at a greater risk of developing diabetes.
Dr. P K D Shah: If one has an underlying disease that must be cured such as hypertension or depression, then the risk of diabetes is higher. One must try to quit smoking in order to prevent DM. Annual investigations should be done for early diagnosis and preferably to investigate the disease in pre-diabetic stage in order to reverse the disease.
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