Beat the odds

If you have a high-pressure job, think sitting in front of the TV constitutes recreation, regularly order takeout from the neighbourhood fast food chain and are living in Mumbai, you are at a high-risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Experts on what you need to know about the dreaded lifestyle disease and what you can do now

Avoid sweets. Exercise regularly. Keep your weight in check. The three mantras to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are the same as the ones for good health. The reason being that obesity dramatically increases one's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"The most immediate lifestyle change that one can make is to revert to traditional cooking mediums, or ghee and coconut oil," says Dr Anil Bhoraskar, Secretary of Scientific Section of Diabetic Association of India. "Even olive oil or rice bran oil are good alternatives to safflower oil, corn oil and sunflower oil," adds the senior diabetologist with SL Raheja Hospital.

How to tell
The ratio of fatty acids is what determines the suitability of an oil. "The ideal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids should be lower than 5," says Dr Bhoraskar, adding, "The fear of cholesterol is what encouraged people to use vegetable-seed oils in the past. But these oils contain a high amount of PUFAs (Polyunsaturated fatty acids) and hence increased consumption can lead to diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers as well." But before you decide to heap your lunch plate with generous dollops of ghee, Dr Bhoraskar advises consuming no more than three teaspoons daily.

Work it out
Exercise is the next most important lifestyle change. "This automatically cuts down on the number of hours spent in front of the computer or TV," explains Dr Bhoraskar. Obesity specialist and Bariatric surgeon, Asian Heart Institute, Dr Abhay Agrawal agrees. "Avoid the high intake of sugar and keep weight under control, as excess fat or obesity leads to insulin resistance," he explains.

The category that is at most risk, according to Dr Agrawal is, "The urban, obese population, because they are most likely to lead sedentary lives and to consume processed foods. Also, Type A personalities or those always in a 'hurry, curry, worry'," he says.

Dr Bhoraskar saying that consuming foods with a low glycaemic index and which are high in fibre is a good way to keep weight under control. "Sprouts, leafy vegetables, cereals with wholewheat bran, whole dals (pulses with skin) and fibrous fruits (sweet limes and oranges), instead of juices, help restrict calories, create a feeling of satiety and provide the body with antioxidants," he says. Fried, processed and preserved foods, including chips, burgers, energy-dense drinks, bakery products, farsans, batata vadas margarine and even
certain commercially sold ice creams are strict no-nos.

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