Wellness by Luke Coutinho: How to prevent a preventable disease

Aditya, a young entrepreneur, came to us with prediabetes. To make his career, he pulled all-nighters, ate convenience foods, worked beyond his capacity, and exercised hard. To achieve more, he created stress for himself. Five years passed, and his business successfully rose. Unfortunately, it was at the cost of his health. Now, his body had started to slow him down. Back and neck aches, constipation, perpetual headaches, and weight gain made him feel like a drag every day. In his annual check-up, he had reached the prediabetic stage, which was alarming because there was no family history of diabetes. Concerned, his doctor gave him three months to correct his lifestyle, or else go on medications.

Inspired to make the necessary shift and reset his health, he focused on the fundamentals of healthy living—a regular exercise regime, timely meals, less processed and more wholesome food, deep breathing, and a work-life balance. Sometimes, his busy schedule got the better of him, but his doctor’s warning kept him going.

Fast forward three months and Aditya has not only found a new lifestyle that allows him to be his best version every day, but he has also reversed his prediabetes.

Diabetes, if left unmanaged and uncontrolled, can be messy and predispose you to an array of complexities, including kidney and heart health. Millions are living with prediabetes today. The statistics state that at least one in four individuals are prediabetic.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is an early warning signal by the body to make necessary lifestyle changes before it becomes Type 2 diabetes. It means that sugar levels have started to increase, but aren’t high enough to be categorized as diabetes. It is detected by checking your fasting and postprandial sugar readings. However, it is ideal to check your HbA1C (glycated hemoglobin), and take an average reading of three months, which is more accurate.

Who is at risk?

• Obese individuals or those who carry a lot of belly fat

• Individuals with insulin resistance

• Young girls and women with PCOS

• Familial history of diabetes

Symptoms to look for

Although diabetes is a condition that quietly brews inside our body, watch out for these symptoms of possible prediabetes:

• Darkening of the skin (acanthosis nigricans)

• Skin tags

• Belly fat

• Decreased HDL levels and increased triglycerides

• Disrupted liver enzymes

Necessary blood tests to diagnose prediabetes:

• CBC (Complete Blood Count)

• FBS (Fasting Blood Sugar)

• PPBS (Postprandial Blood Sugar)

• Lipid profile

• LFT (Liver Function Test)

• Vitamin D3 and B12

• HbA1C

Is prediabetes reversible?

Yes. We say this with conviction because Type-2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease. When a wrong lifestyle can cause diabetes, a corrective lifestyle can reverse it, especially if it’s prediabetes.

In almost all cases of prediabetes, medications can be avoided, provided you are willing to make lifestyle changes. For example, if detected at an early stage, you can give yourself three to six months to make changes and assess the results.

Lifestyle changes to make

1. Add a 10-minute walk after your main meals

A gentle stroll is a great way to promote insulin sensitivity and gain better control over sugar spikes after a meal. If you cannot take a walk, try to get in some physical activity (a couple of squats or jumping jacks) within an hour post-meal.

2. Apple cider vinegar pre-meals (if you can)

Apple cider vinegar has the unique ability to stimulate your muscles to take up glucose from the bloodstream. If apple cider vinegar suits you, mix a tablespoon of it in a glass of water half an hour before your lunch and dinner.

3. Follow the right flow of eating

You may not always have control over what you eat, especially if it’s an outside meal, but you have control over the sequence in which you eat. The following sequence is scientifically known to work well.

• Start with raw salad

• Then, cooked vegetables or vegetable soup

• Next, protein and fats (lentils/ chicken/ fish/ eggs/ legumes/ soy)

• Finally, carbohydrates (grain/starch/cereal)

This way, you not only eat smaller portions of carbohydrates but also gain better control over blood glucose rise.

4. Eat an early dinner

All of us operate according to the circadian rhythm, and our metabolism slows as the sun sets. Eating with or close to sunset is one of the best strategies to balance sugar levels, metabolism, weight, and digestive health.

Luke Coutinho practices in the space of Holistic Nutrition—Integrative & LifestyleMedicine and is the founder of You Care-All about You by Luke Coutinho

From HT Brunch, September 24, 2022

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