High standard of living has enabled almost everyone to select and eat from a vast array of food items. In the industrially developed countries, the sheer abundance of food has proved a mixed blessing. Refrigeration and sophisticated food preserving and processing techniques have made it possible for storing for long the fatty foods, which otherwise would have turned rancid, if kept unused, within a short duration. In addition, the lack of physical exercise due to sedentary habits coupled with stressful living has led to greater health hazards such as obesity, diabetes, coronary hearty ailments, kidney diseases, neck and back pains etc.
Natural surveys done in the field for the last 25 years show that the incidence of Diabetes Mellitus is 3–4%, both in developed countries of the West as well as in the developing countries. Urbanites appear to be more prone to diabetes than the rural people.
Diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar levels increase. It is broadly classified as insulin dependent or juvenile diabetes, (where insulin should be given to control blood sugar) and non–insulin dependent diabetes which can be controlled by diet and exercises alone.
There are several factors which pre–dispose a person to diabetes such as strong family history of diabetes mellitus, obesity, physical inactivity, stress and trauma and overeating. General symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, hunger and urination. Weight loss and weakness may also be seen.
Treatment for Diabetes
- Mud packs over the abdomen daily for 15–20 minutes improve blood circulation to abdominal and pelvic region, enhancing their functional capacity, especially of liver and pancreas. Cold towel compress (Towel pack) can also be used instead of mud packs.
- Cold hip baths for 15–20 minutes daily if the weather is conducive also yield the above benefits.
- Warm water enema regularly in the morning for 2–3 days help in clearing accumulated wastes from the large intestine.
- Warm water immersion baths and cold friction baths for a period of 20 and 10 minutes respectively are also beneficial.
- Body massage, once a while, improves blood circulation, tones up the muscles and improves the general health.
- Abdominal pack applied at night, 3 hours after food, activates abdominal organs, especially liver and pancreas. It also helps to induce good digestion and enhance the metabolic rate.
- Steam and sauna baths generally raise basal metabolic rate, burn up excessive calories by breaking down the carbohydrates. They also help in proper peripheral utilization of glucose.
- Alternate hip baths (hot and cold), 3 minutes hot and 1 minutes cold, 4 to 5 times ending with cold hip bath helps to stimulate digestive organs. They can be taken twice a week.
- Astro–hepatic pack is also useful in diabetes and other gastro intestinal problems. It should be taken 2–3 times a week.
- Mud bath improves blood circulation to skin diverting a large amount of blood to periphery, improving skin function, which is usually poor in diabetic patients.
- Regular exercise such as walking, yogasanas, pranayama and yoganidra should also form an important aspect of treatment.
Though the diet of a diabetic is in no way different from the diet of normal individual.
The following aspects should be kept in mind
- Daily intake of calories must be reduced by those who are overweight.
- Fat intake should be restricted, especially oils rich in monosaturated and saturated fatty acids (e.g. ghee, vanaspati oil, butter etc.)
- Intake of food should be restricted to small frequent meals. Skipping meal between or prolonged fasting or fasting without guidance from a professional should be avoided.
- Fiber–rich foods should be included in the diet.
- Complex carbohydrates to be preferred to simple sugars (e.g. carbohydrate derived from cereals, grains and legumes).
- The diet of a diabetic should consist of 60–70% carbohydrates, 10–15% fats and 15–20% proteins.
- Sugar, honey, cakes, sharbat, fried foods, syrups, alcohol, tender coconuts, jack fruit, mango, banana, sapota (chickoo) and custard apple should be totally avoided.