Monday, July 20, 2009


A recent study in UK has revealed how physicians take to the drug route to treat persons diagnosed with Type II diabetes based on blood sugar readings marginally higher than the upper limit considered as normal. While a glucose level of 100 mg per deciliter is considered normal for fasting, 150 mg per deciliter is taken as normal level for post-prandial sugar. Due to many reasons blood sugar levels tend go beyond these notional values and many a time normal levels are achieved without any treatment at all. Tendency in western countries is to treat diabetes symptoms aggressively, fearing serious damage to the body system if not brought under control. It is indisputable that persistent high levels of sugar can precipitate many collateral disorders like CVD, kidney damage, neuropathy etc and such patients must be under medical supervision with suitable medicines that are available under different brand names.
It is ridiculous to see the present paranoia of people diagnosed as marginal diabetics, obsessed with glucose monitoring half a dozen times every day using expensive enzyme strips and sophisticated measuring devices. In India each enzyme strip, with limited life, costs between Rs 15 and Rs 50 while the digital reader is being sold at around Rs 2000 per unit. Added to this the lancer pen and the lancers, used pricking the finger to raw blood through capillary action, cost another fortune. What about the painful pricks one has to endure each time testing is to be done. It is not realized that measurement of glycosylated hemoglobin once in 3 months can give a better picture about the sugar dynamics in the blood than frequent testing at home. Probably those with Type I diabetes may need to keep a strict vigil on their blood sugar levels, since they are insulin dependent, based on which they can design their diets and prevent episodes of hypoglycemia.
Unless you are an athlete or physically hard working person, there is no need to try for fast rise in glucose in the blood and 'evening out' sugar absorption from the intestine is considered a much better way of staying healthy. As for diabetes affected persons, the best course is to think of modifying the food habits to eat more of foods with low glycaemic index (GL) and low glycaemic load(GL) per serving, in stead of fast sugar releasing foods like sweets, refined flour based foods and high GI products. It has become a routine in India also to condemn people with marginally higher sugar levels in the blood as diabetics though mercifully they are branded Type II diabetics and put on allopathic medicines on a regular basis for their life time. Generally those leading some what sedentary life style are likely to cross the 'Random Blood Sugar' threshold of 150 mg between the age 50 and 60 years and if adequate diet adjustment is made, probably there may not be any need for medication to 'manage' blood glucose.
Why people do not have faith in foods as a means of tackling this mild metabolic aberration is some thing puzzling. As early as 1550 BC the famous Ebers Papyrus had advocated treating diabetic syndrome with high fiber wheat grain and not much has changed since then except we have a mulibillion pharma industry churning out hundreds of medicines to lower blood sugar amongst the population supposed to be affected. Plant foods must be the drugs of choice to deal with diabetics at its early stages and there are more than 400 plants identified, used and prescribed as diabetic remedies. Why low GI foods are prefered for healthy living? It increases body's sensitivity to insulin, reduces significantly the risk of CVD, controls blood sugar better in case of diabetics, reduces cholesterol levels and reduces the cravings for food. Diets dominated by oats, barley, whole grains bases foods, multigrain breads and rotis, pasta, nuts, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, raw onion, garlic, bitter gourd, bengal gram, yogurt, beans, apple and grapefruit, ground nut and soybean, in any permutation-combination can help to control glucose levels in the blood.
There is more or less unanimity that we must consume at least 30-35 gm dietary fiber daily. Also we must spread out the number of meals from 2-3 to 4-5 per day, avoid high fat bakery foods replacing them with cooked whole cereals, avoid eating carbohydrate meals 2 hours before bed time and consume daily at least 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables. It is advisable for an individual to adopt a low salt daily diet involving whole cereals, legumes, green beans and starchy vegetables as main energy source through 5-6 servings, variety of vegetables for supplying micro nutrients, health sustaining phytochemicals and some fiber via 3-5 servings, fruits another 2-3 servings, milk 2-3 servings, meat and allied foods 2-3 servings and fats and sweets 1/2 to 1 serving or less. The motto of modern society should be to go back to nature and less dependence on drugs and medicines for healthy life.

1 comment:

Jim Purdy said...

I agree enthusiastically with everything you said, except your recommendations to eat grains and cereals. I believe that our bodies did not evolve to eat raw grains, and that cooking or processing them does not make them any safer.

As far as the unfortunate trend in modern medicine to prescribe pills and surgery instead of a proper diet, I think that can be traced back to the early 20th Century and the growth of big pharmaceutical companies and their undue influence over the medical profession.

For example, in the years prior to 1921, researchers were making dramatic strides in successfully treating Type 2 diabetes with diet alone. They were adopting low-carb diets, sometimes preceded by fasting, with amazing success.

Then, in 1921, insulin became commercially available. Insulin was undoubtedly a life-saver for the minority of diabetics with Type 1. Unfortunately, insulin and pills became the treatment of choice for Type 2 diabetics, and nutrition was pushed aside. Medicine has been going in the wrong direction ever since, pushing expensive (profitable)pills and bizarre mutilations like bariatric surgery, instead of simple nutrition.

Modern medicine is a disaster.