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Is diabetes a disease or disorder?

It is a disease and it is reversible in most cases!!!

Diabetes is a disease and not a disorder. Let’s quickly understand what diabetes is. It occurs when the blood glucose otherwise called blood sugar, a main source of energy, is too high in your body. You derive blood glucose from the food you eat.
Insulin, a hormone from the pancreas, helps glucose from the food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body does not use the insulin efficiently, and hence the glucose doesn’t reach your cells. Excessive blood glucose levels are an issue for the body.
American Diabetes Association report suggests that India will see an increase in people diagnosed with diabetes by 2030 largely due to the combination of genetic susceptibility and poor lifestyle involving carbohydrate-rich food and low activity.

Types of Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: In this case, the body does not make insulin efficiently. This condition is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and can also occur in older adults due to an auto-immune response or pancreatic damage. People with Type-1 diabetes need to take insulin supplements daily.
Type 2 diabetes: This is the most prevalent type of diabetes. This is developed when the body does not use insulin efficiently. Type 2 diabetes can be developed at any age, even during childhood. However, this occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. This type of diabetes occurs when the person is 45 years or older with a family history of diabetes, and in many cases may stem from being overweight. Physical inactivity, ethnicity, and certain health problems such as high blood pressure are also likely to contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes: This condition develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most usually, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born.

Disease or disorder? Diabetes is a disease, especially Type 1. Type 2 is also a disease, however, there are many cases of people with symptoms of diabetes but are only insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a disorder, but the treatment remains the same for both.

Is it reversible?
In most cases, type-2 diabetes is reversible, unless there is a genetic predisposition, which according to statistics arises 14 % from the mother and 19 % from the father.
When diabetes is the result of poor lifestyle conditions and choices, it is generally completely reversible. You can even be taken off medication and the disease can be reversed through dietary changes and physical exercise.
However, it also depends on how long a person has been on diabetic medication, as the health and proper functioning of the Pancreas depends on the extent/duration of the course of medication. Hence, diabetes is typically reversible, provided one has not been on diabetic drugs for too long. Insulin resistance, being a lifestyle disorder, is quickly reversible with lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes include
● Mindful eating
● Quality Sleep
● Physical activity
● Meditation

Mindful eating: The principles of healthy eating are the same for everyone —whether you’re diabetic or not. For a person with diabetes, they will need no special meal but their meal should be more special with the inclusion of complex carbs, fibrous vegetables, whole fat, and plant/animal protein.

Quality of sleep: Maintaining a regular bedtime and rise time, setting a comfortable sleep environment, and staying away from gadgets 1 hour before bedtime is a few measures to get a good quality sleep. A pre-sleep routine would be helpful too!

Physical activity: Including 45 mins to 1 hour of physical activity (brisk walking, cycling, and yoga) is proven to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels and also aids in weight loss. Sitting for long hours should be replaced by frequent stretching and spot walking for small intervals.

Meditation: Sitting in silence, relaxation exercises, breathing techniques (pranayama), staying calm and composed is better way to overcome stress and anxiety. Distress to de-stress is essential for a sound mind and body.
Lifestyle changes are very important in the management of any disease/disorder. Habit formation, planning a routine, and executing it (getting better by 1% every day) will help in the longer run. Wish you a sound mind, body, and health!

Views Expressed by RESSHMI RAJKUMAR Sr. Health Coach and Clinical Nutritionist

About the author: A dedicated and qualified Senior Clinical Nutritionist having treated over 5000 patients. Hands-on experience working in the digital platform & health care industry. Girded with a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition with specialization in Sports, Post-Traumatic Burns recovery and Surgical Nutrition from Sri Ramachandra Medical College.
Resshmi had been invited to present papers at Eduplast (Conference for Plastic Surgeons) and International College of Surgeons – Indian section. For the last 6 years, Resshmi works with Hospitals, Elite level Athletes, NGO’s, Fitness Clubs, Magazine’s and organised nutrition awareness programs. Dedicating interest and studying advance nutrition science and its role
within our bodies, our mind, our environment, and our relationships. A specialist who is thoroughly skilled in Clinical & Sports Nutrition, Research frameworks, Blood Chemistry, Food & Beverage, Public Speaking, Team leader, and Time Management.

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