A multidimensional programme spread across drugs, dietary management, regular exercises, yoga & Pranayama and stress management techniques is more effective in the management of diabetes than drug therapy alone.
Dietary management of Diabetes was considered an important management approach by Charaka and Sushrut 2000 years ago. Both Charaka and Sushrut did not impose any quantitative restrictions on the diet of lean and thin patients. However, obese diabetes patients with low physical activity lifestyle patterns were advised to restrict the intake of fats from animal origin (Ghee, Butter) and meat of domestic animals. Instead soups of pulses, bitter vegetables, coarse cereals with low carbohydrate content such as barley, and oils of vegetable origin were advised for such patients.
Charaka advised weight loss for obese diabetes patients.
The objective of diabetes management is to maintain the level of blood glucose within normal limits without marked fluctuations. The following guidelines are to be kept in mind:
- Small frequent meals.
- Low fat, high protein, high fibre diet.
- Sweets, maida (refined flour), soft drinks, alcoholic beverages to be avoided.
- Brown bread to be preferred over white bread.
- Salads advisable.
- Rice, potato, banana and other fruits with high carbohydrate content are to be avoided.
- Vegetable oils are to be preferred over animal fats like butter and ghee.
- Vegetables like Bitter gourd (karela), drumstick, snake gourd (Patola) may have beneficial effects. Preparations made from the flowers and leaves of Neem tree may also be effective in Diabetes management.
Deep controlled rhythmic breathing (Pranayama).
Aerobic exercises are suitable for Diabetes patients, however, consultation with a medical professional is advisable before starting any exercise programme.
Monitoring blood glucose levels before, during and after exercises is advisable.
Benefits of regular exercise
- Makes one feel healthier.
- Helps in weight reduction by burning up excess calories.
- Exercise increases collateral circulation which opens up bypasses and thus increases blood flow to body parts deprived of blood supply and therefore decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Normalizes lipid profile thereby reducing the rate of atherosclerosis which in turn decreases the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Exercise increases blood levels of HDL cholesterol which decreases the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Improves insulin sensitivity.