A chronic and potentially fatal illness, Diabetes Mellitus or simply Diabetes, is a condition where the human body loses its ability to produce Insulin. It is also caused when the Insulin produced in the body is not effectively used, which can cause the blood glucose levels to fluctuate and become too high. If Diabetes is not treated on time, it can cause many health complications, including cardiac issues, chronic kidney conditions, brain damage, and hearing & vision loss.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi shares how one can manage diabetes without insulin. Here is what she shared with us.
Today Diabetes is one of the biggest health concerns not just in India but also around the world. There are at least 77 million Indians with Diabetes, and an equal number are expected to be living with pre-Diabetes, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)’s 2021 review regarding the epidemiology of Type 2 diabetes in India. That’s not all, the report further states that nearly 25% of the people with pre-Diabetes will eventually progress to overt type 2 Diabetes within the next five years. Currently, there are three main types of Diabetes, namely Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes, which occur during the pregnancy tenure of a woman.
Since Diabetes affects everyone differently, it is essential to treat each case uniquely, as the treatment and diagnosis will completely change depending on the individual prognosis. In people who have Type 1 Diabetes, their condition needs to be managed by lifestyle changes and Insulin. However, when it comes to Type 2 Diabetes, a change in the person’s everyday life can help treat the condition effectively and even reverse it. Only in very few cases will they need Insulin; in fact, 90 to 95% people with Diabetes usually belong to the Type 2 Diabetes category, where there is a relative deficiency of Insulin and peripheral Insulin resistance.
What is insulin, and how does it help to treat diabetes?
A hormone that is required by the body, Insulin, helps to keep the blood glucose levels close to a normal range as possible. Insulin is created by beta cells in the Pancreas, and its primary job is to move the glucose in the bloodstream to the cells in the body to convert it into energy. When a person’s body does not make adequate Insulin, a glucose build-up in the bloodstream can, in turn, raise their blood sugar levels.
In cases when a person has Type 1 Diabetes, their body does not make any Insulin which is why they must take injections to stay alive. On the other hand, in some cases of Type 2 diabetes, the human body does not produce enough Insulin; in those cases, Insulin injections will have to be administered to them. Type 2 Diabetes requires specific lifestyle changes and medications, especially if Insulin injection does not prove to be a sufficient solution. Some lifestyle changes that help control Type 2 Diabetes and even reverse it include the following:
Obesity is one of the growing causes of Diabetes. Since Obesity and weight gain are precursors of Type 2 Diabetes, it is essential to maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) so that the Insulin produced in the body is effectively used to regulate and bring down blood sugar levels. Every person, irrespective of their weight, must have some level of physical activity daily with a recommended time of 150-300 minutes weekly. During this time, they can either go to the gym or, if that is not possible, spend time in outdoor activities like brisk walking, jogging, and swimming. In fact, daily physical activity will positively impact a person’s blood sugar levels, as even 5-7% weight loss can play a positive role in helping to bring Diabetes under control.
Focus On A Good Diet
A healthy and nutritious diet is essential for anyone who wants to live a long and active life. For people suffering from Diabetes, choosing the right food, especially those with a low glycaemic index, is very important. At the same time, they must avoid food items containing high sugar levels, sweetened/ aerated beverages, Jaggery and even Honey. They must also refrain from trans-fat items like white Bread, Rice, Cakes, Pasta, Pizza, and flavoured Yoghurt, to name a few. Instead, they should focus on plant-based proteins that help increase Insulin levels, like beans, legumes, lentils, Tofu, and nuts. Although it is not conclusively proven, fasting is said to trigger a particular procedure that aids beta cells in the Pancreas manage glucose. However, fasting for diabetic patients should be undertaken only after consultation with a certified expert/dietician.
If the above two methods do help a person to control Type 2 Diabetes, then they might have to take medications that a doctor prescribes. There have been a lot of recent advancements in this field, with newer novel antidiabetic medicines now available for sugar control, like SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP1 receptor antagonists. These medications have proved helpful for patients who want to delay Insulin injection or even avoid its usage altogether.
In conclusion, diabetic patients must follow a strict diet and make proper lifestyle changes with regular exercise and take medicines prescribed by doctors to control their blood sugar levels. These will help them avoid any health complications triggered by Diabetes.