A whole grain diet can reverse diabetes

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that Type 2 diabetes is increasing globally, particularly in developing countries. The causes are complex, but are in large part due to rapid increase in obesity and physical inactivity. It is predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by 2030. And even children, who earlier were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, are being afflicted with Type 2 diabetes. About 347 million people, or one sixth of the world population, is affected with diabetes at present.

Confirmed diabetes patients in India alone are 67 million, with another 30 million in the pre diabetes group. By 2030, India will have the largest number of patients in the world.

Diabetes causes complications like heart disease. Life expectancy, too, is reduced by 30 per cent in diabetics as compared with non-diabetics; this translates into a loss of eight years of life. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure in the world. Besides this, every year it is responsible for 5 per cent or five million blindness in adults and one million limb amputations. Clearly, it is a silent epidemic.

Increased consumption of dense-rich foods along with increasing sedentary lifestyle has increased the incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

There is now substantial proven evidence to support lifestyle changes are actually reversing diabetes, not just controlling it. This approach is based on understanding diabetes, the causes, and, therefore, the prevention and the cure for it.

The one thing to remember is that low-fat foods help insulin work better. Fat promotes insulin resistance. Sugar builds up in the blood, and insulin cannot do its work properly. Re­ducing dietary fat, therefore, is a very powerful step. Complex carbohydrates release their sugars gradually. The starchy part of beans, vegetables, and grains are called complex carbohydrates, natural sugars that are chemically linked together in a chain. During digestion, these sugars gradually come apart and pass into the blood a bit at a time, rather than all at once. The body can then use these natural sugars for energy. On the other hand, white sugar, candy bars, and aerated drinks release sugar that is absorbed into the bloodstream abruptly. The same is true for some fruits.

Fibre keeps the absorption of sugar slow and steady. Fibre simply means plant roughage. There is plenty of fibre in beans and vegetables. It is also in the outer coating of grains, which is retained in whole wheat bread and brown rice, but has been eliminated in white bread and white rice. Animal products have no fibre.

In order to reverse diabetes with the help of diet, eat only whole grains. Eat legumes like beans, peas, and lentils, and vegetables and fruit with a low glycemic index like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and green beans. Eat fruits in moderation. Eat fibre-filled whole fruits and avoid fruit juices.

Avoid oils of any kind — cooking oils, salad oils or margarine. Avoid all processed and refined foods and those with a high glycemic index, like maida items, white bread, white rice, white sugar, white potatoes and fried foods like samosas, batata vada and potato chips. Avoid tea and coffee as well, as these are stimulants that indirectly affect blood sugar levels.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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