I've heard that Indians are more prone to diabetes than anyone else. What do I need to do or eat to not get it?
The bad news is that yes, Indians are more prone to diabetes in their later years. This is primarily due to a drastic change in lifestyle and dietary habits. Blame it on westernization and a little help from your own genes! But the good news is that you can still try and avoid the big D. To begin with, get exercising. Your mother’s told you this, your doctor tells you this all the time and so does your wife/girlfriend. Well, they are right. Squeeze in at least half an hour of cardiovascular activity daily like running or swimming and you are halfway there.
Now comes the more important step -- watch what you eat. This time, do not listen to your mother or girlfriend, and start cutting down on simple carbs. This means white bread, pasta and white rice. Remember, carbs mean sugar and you need to keep the sugar level of your blood stable all day. Don’t go all paranoid but just keep a count of what you eat and start replacing things. For example, switch to sweet potatoes or use brown rice instead of white rice.
As far as possible avoid sugar and try other sweeteners in beverages. Eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as they have natural sweeteners and enough fibre to keep your system healthy. If you are a non-vegetarian, control your intake of red meat and replace it as much as possible with fish. And please switch to more frequent and smaller meals a day rather than just the three big ones.
The golden rule is this -- Keep a tab on what you eat, squeeze in enough exercise to counter it and you are good to go!
Dr Shikha is a pioneer in the field of nutrigenetics, studying the effects of genetic differences on diet and nutrition, and has been working extensively to promote healthy eating habits and lifestyle in India.
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