Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Calorie restricted diet regime has been known to extend the life span significantly at least in animal experiments and a 1200 kC diet is generally considered beneficial for achieving sound health, freedom from diseases and longevity. Now comes the startling news, though very pleasant, that such a diet with limited calories, if practiced religiously, can even reverse Type II Diabetes within a matter of 16 weeks! If this is true this finding will give hope to millions of people suffering from this debilitating disease, if one call it a disease at all. To day diabetic people are not handicapped from this disease, being able to go on with their life practically normal. There are very effective medicines which are available in the market with minimum side effects. Life span of diabetics is not significantly affected if the blood glucose levels are not allowed to go beyond the safe limit and sugar peaks and surges due to uncontrolled eating are avoided consciously.
Dietary control does play a role in controlling ill effects arising out of Diabetes, though reversing the disease has never been an option available to the affected people so far. Diets based on complex carbohydrates, pulses, nuts, coarse and unrefined cereals, dietary fiber, resistant starch etc are known to be effective in controlling diabetes reasonably well. The concepts of GI (Glycemic Index) and GL (Glycemic Load) have helped in designing diets with slow release of glucose from the food ingested thereby preventing peaks in blood glucose level after a meal. Similarly changing the pattern of eating by pacing food ingestion every 3-4 hours in stead of the conventional 3 meal system also can help managing diabetes reasonably well. Diabetes is now considered to be linked to accumulation of fat in the body which some how upsets the insulin activity and over weight and obese people are the major victims of this disorder. In the past there have been special dietary formulations and treatment clinics for those whose BMI is beyond the magical figure of 25-30 which are supposed to help the "patients" loose weight over a period of few weeks. Similarly surgical intervention like bariatric surgery or gastric banding also is resorted to by people with BMI beyond 34. Liposuction is another technique to reduce the body fat and attain healthy weight. However none of these remedial measures is known to reverse the disease.
India is considered the diabetes capital of the world though percentage wise the figure may not be as high as that obtained in advanced countries like the UK, USA and others. There are about 300 million diabetic people in the world to day which is slated to increase to 450 million by the year 2030. In India as a percentage of country's population only 3.35% are reported to be affected which works out to about 40 million people! It was reported that in a tiny country like the UK with a population of 63 million, the number of diabetes has crossed 3 million while each year more than 117000 people are diagnosed with this disease. Imagine that country spending almost 9 billion pound sterling per year to treat this category of citizens under the National Health Service program! While Type I diabetes is genetically inherited and the numbers are rather limited, What is alarming is the extent of undiagnosed cases world over which is any body's guess! Type II diabetes is caused by the life style characterized by sedentary habits with no appreciable physical activity and dietary over indulgence with nutritionally unbalanced foods.
While diabetes is at least manageable, what is more disconcerting is the on set of other diseases like Heart disease, Stroke, kidney disease, neuropathy, retina detachment and other complications when diabetes is not properly managed through diet and exercise. It is estimated that diabetic people are 5 times more prone to heart attacks and strokes compared to normal individuals. The restricted calorie diet being advocated by scientists in the Netherlands is being hailed as a breakthrough and it is in the interest of the world community to give adequate attention to these scientific findings for adoption world wide. Restricted calorie diet has the twin advantages of preventing as well as reversing the diabetes while significantly extending the life span. How such a "dieting" can be achieved is a million dollar question considering that food has become an addiction in the modern society like tobacco and alcohol and specialized de-addiction centers may have to be set up in hospitals for treating people affected under the medical insurance coverage.

Food industry must step in to help diabetic people to manage the disease with appropriate designer foods with low calorie content but at the same time providing satiety with no feeling of the hunger pangs. One of the most difficult steps in controlling diet is the inability of people to gauge the calorie content of the servings though labels do indicate this information if packed foods are being consumed. Reported development of Mandometer, a device that tells the consumer about the calorie consumed with each mouthful and guides regarding the pace of eating. Slower the food is ingested, better will be the control on food intake. But it may take years before people take devices like Mandometer seriously. It is here where food industry must step in to evolve hundreds of variations of complete meals with serving size limited to provide less than 300-400 kC per serving. 


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