Dietitian Monisha Ashokan is a certified nutritionist from VLCC institute, Delhi. Being a fitness and lifestyle management consultant, she helps her patients understand how easy it is to incorporate whole foods into their diet. She is the Founder and Director of “Nourish Me“, which is a place for holistic health & wellness services. She provides a fulfilling dietary approach towards weight loss, weight gain, PCOD, diabetes, thyroid and other lifestyle factors affecting health. In an exclusive interview with Zotezo, Dt. Monisha has opened up about Diabetes, which has affected almost 425 million people in the country and the number is rising.
Here are the full excerpts of her interview…..
Team Zotezo: What exactly is Diabetes and How is it affecting the World?
Diabetes is basically a disease, resulting from a bad lifestyle. Depending on the type of lifestyle (healthy or non-healthy) one is leading, will determine whether one will end up having Diabetes or not. A person is said to be diabetic, when there is excess sugar level in your blood which is unused by your cells in the body. Whenever you eat something it gets absorbed in your body in the form of glucose. , which is nothing but simple sugar. Insulin hormone produced by the pancreas is used to take this sugar in the blood to the starving cells. When insulin is not produced enough or if there is a malfunction of insulin production, the sugar stays in the blood instead of going inside the cells. That is when there is a rise in the sugar level of the person and he is said to be diabetic.
Diabetes is definitely affecting the world because it is leading to a lot of chronic diseases like heart issues, kidney failure and even complete blindness. People can even lose their lives because of diabetes. It might sound that diabetes is benign but it can lead to bigger ailments which can be fatal.
Team Zotezo: What is Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Dt. Monisha: There are 2 types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes: It is usually known as the insulin dependent diabetes. It is called insulin dependent because in this the person suffering is dependent on the insulin that one has to take externally in our body because in this kind of diabetes insulin is not produced in the body. There is pancreas in your body which has some beta cells and these beta cells produce insulin which carries the blood glucose to the cells. In a person who has Type 1 diabetes, these cells do not work properly and they are not producing insulin at all. Sometimes the lifestyle could be normal, but due to some genetic conditions or immune system the insulin producing hormones are destroyed on its own. In such scenarios, the person has to take insulin externally injected and hence it’s called insulin dependent diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is usually a result of unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. Lack of exercise, central obesity (when people have high abdominal fat), sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol are some of the reasons for insulin resistance, which is a condition in which cells do not use insulin properly. As a result, pancreas keep overproducing insulin. However, due to the resistance of cells to uptake the glucose carried by the insulin, over a period of time the pancreas stop making enough insulin. That’s when the blood glucose level stays high and the person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Team Zotezo: Are there any primary causes of Diabetes?
Dt. Monisha: There are various causes of diabetes like unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. Small kids are getting diabetes due to the high sugar levels.. Everything boils down to the thing that people have high percentage of body fat. Diabetes does not happen overnight. It happens over a period of prolonged unhealthy lifestyle. High organ fat which is abdominal fat also known as the visceral fat is another cause of diabetes especially in men.
Team Zotezo: What are the symptoms of Diabetes?
Dt. Monisha: In type 1 diabetes the symptoms appear quicker than in type 2 diabetes. There is lack of insulin in this type and it will be noticeable easily. Whereas type 2 diabetes’s symptoms take a while to get noticed since it is caused by chronic unhealthy lifestyle. By the time people understand it’s diabetes and is insulin resistance it may become late. The basic symptoms one can watch out for are:
- Increased thirst in the body
- Frequent urination
- Extreme levels of hunger
- Initial unexplained weight loss
- Constant fatigue
- There will be ketones (byproduct of fat and protein breakdown) in the urine
- May have blurred vision
Team Zotezo: Can Diabetes be fully cured?
Dt. Monisha: Pre-diabetic conditions like insulin resistance can be cured. Even Type 2 diabetes is reversible with good lifestyle.
Team Zotezo: Can Diabetes be cured naturally?
Dt. Monisha: I generally suggest my clients to cure diabetes with natural remedies. They generally do not have to be dependent on medicines, unless it is type 1 diabetes where you have to take insulin. People can just watch out their food habits. They have to ensure that consume high fibre food and they are taking more fruits and vegetables which have which are non-starchy. They should be taking whole grains like whole wheat roti, dalia, oats, whole wheat bread. They have to eliminate refined products and processed products which are packaged, completely out of their life. They have to avoid high starch and high sugar foods, like potatoes, corn, peas etc. One has to replace fruit juices with whole fruits. One can go easy on the fat part a little bit and can take healthy fats like, instead of a full cream milk going with a low fat milk is a better option. These people can even try out olive oils instead of any other refined oils. Even nuts and seeds are a healthy option. Apart from the food choices, one must also indulge in at least an hour of physical activity like running, cycling or even swimming to reduce the calories that is accumulating and becoming fat in our body.
Team Zotezo: How often should one check their Blood Sugar Levels?
Dt. Monisha: For a type 1 diabetic person, it is necessary to check their sugar levels at least 3-4 times a day. Since everything depends on the insulin levels, so before having food it is mandatory to check the levels. For a non-diabetic person it can be just a routine check up, may be once in a year.
Team Zotezo: Can anything be done to avoid diabetes for a non-diabetic person?
Dt. Monisha: One must maintain a 6 day workout regime. It is a must for anyone to be healthy. The person must be mindful about choosing the right products for being fit. One should not just keep binging on any food, even when that person is not hungry is a really a bad thing. Too much indulgence in preserved food is not good and one should receive signals from the body way before the person is full.
“Having a full packet of french fries or a full tub of caramelized popcorn can make you Diabetic with time”
Team Zotezo: Can Diabetes affect the sexual life of a person?
Dt. Monisha: It can definitely have some effects on our sexual life. In women, diabetes is known to affect women in various forms, like catching infection very easily, especially UTI’s. In men, diabetes damages the blood flow. Basically what happens is anytime to get active one needs blood circulation. Since there is less blood circulation in a person’s body who’s diabetic, it definitely damages the blood flow which can lead to less production of testosterone in men impacting their sexual life. And obviously needless to say that they’re always fatigued and tired which can also decrease the overall sex drive.
Team Zotezo: Are there any myths around Diabetes?
Dt. Monisha: There are certain myths that revolve around diabetes. The most important myth is that diabetes happens to people who eat sugar. That’s absolutely untrue because diabetes has nothing to do with sugar in particular because sugar is basically the end product of any food that you’re eating which becomes sugar. Diabetes can be caused from anything other than sugar. It can even be caused if you are overeating and not working out properly. It can even happen to people who do not consume sugar in any form at all.
So another myth is, that people cannot take sugar when they’re diabetic that is also untrue. They can definitely take sugar but it’s definitely in moderate quantities in a balanced way.
Another myth is, that diabetes only happens to fat people. This is indeed a very big myth because people tend to think that whoever looks fat is unhealthy and the one who looks thin is healthy. But this is not the case.
“There is often a term called TOFI which means thin outside & fat inside. About 20% of people who have diabetes have normal weight. These statistics justify the statement that obese people have nothing to do with getting diabetes”.