Leading a healthy lifestyle is harm reduction for people susceptible to Type 2 diabetes

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

India is set to become the diabetes capital of the world

New Delhi, 2 March 2019: Taking vitamin C supplements can help diabetics by lowering elevated blood sugar levels throughout the day, a study has found. The research also found that vitamin C lowered blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes, suggesting benefits for heart health too. While physical activity, good nutrition and current diabetes medications are standard care and very important for managing type 2 diabetes, some people can find it tough to manage their blood glucose levels even with medication.

It is alarming to note that one in every four (25.3%) people under 25 with diabetes in India has adult-onset type-2 diabetes. This condition should ideally strike only older adults with a family history of diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diets and inactivity.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “In a person with Type 2 diabetes, the body does not utilize insulin properly and this condition is called as insulin resistance. The pancreas first makes extra insulin to make up for this. However, over time, it cannot make enough to keep the blood glucose at normal levels. While the exact trigger for this condition is not known, Type 2 diabetes could be a result of a combination of factors. Some may be genetically predisposed to the condition. People with a family history of obesity are also at an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes. Those who are obese have added pressure on their body’s ability to use insulin in controlling blood sugar levels. This can lead to Type 2 diabetes. The more fatty tissue a person has, the more resistant their cells become to insulin. Lifestyle factors also have a major role to play.”

The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes develop slowly, over a period of time. Some of them include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow healing of infections and wounds, and skin darkening in certain areas.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “A healthy diet is, more expensive than an unhealthy one. The wide availability of cheap energy dense low-nutrient food is contributing to the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Foods which reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes such as vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and unsaturated fats need to be more affordable and more widely available.”

Some harm reduction measures

  • Exercise more Exercise has various benefits including preventing weight gain, controlling blood sugar levels, and other conditions. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day is very beneficial.
  • Eat healthy A diet rich in whole grain, fruits, and vegetables is very good for the body. Fibrous food will ensure that you feel fuller for a longer period and prevent any cravings. Avoid processed and refined food as much as possible.
  • Limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking. Too much alcohol leads to weight gain and can increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should limit drinks to two per day and women to one per day. Smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes as non-smokers and therefore, it is a good idea to quit this habit.
  • Understand your risk factors Doing so can help you in taking preventive measures at the earliest and avoid complications.

Lack of sleep can lead to heart problems over time

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Making changes to one’s lifestyle to prevent diseases amounts to harm reduction

New Delhi, 27 February 2019: Getting enough sleep can help protect against cardiovascular disease by preventing the build-up of plaques in the arteries, as per a study. The research describes the mechanism by which insufficient sleep increases production of inflammatory white blood cells, which are known to be major contributors to atherosclerosis. It also found that a hormone in the brain known to control wakefulness controls processes in the bone marrow and protects against cardiovascular disease.

One of every five patients in India suffers from sleeping disorder, as per a study and about 20.3% patients visiting doctors for such issues ask for sleeping pills. Many patients suffer from sleep disturbances, the reasons for which include hectic schedule, night shifts, and high stress levels. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) seems to be one of the most common sleep disorders.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Majority of the Indian population remains unaware of the fact that common ailments such as obesity, depression, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease are all linked to an irregular sleep pattern. Sleep deprivation also is a key influencer of stressed relationships, decreased performance at school and work, accidental injuries, memory and cognitive impairment and a poor quality of life. It is thus essential that awareness be raised about good sleep habits and the importance of getting adequate sleep on a daily basis. The present generation is mostly found sleeping only for 3-5 hours in a day and then compensating their sleep requirements by sleeping for 14 hours on the weekends. This is extremely dangerous for their overall health. They also depend on caffeine and energy drinks to stay awake, which impact their overall cognitive ability.”

Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep, waking up abruptly, waking up with dry or sore throat, morning headache, difficulty concentrating, mood changes, high blood pressure, nighttime sweating, and decreased libido.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The time has come for each one of us to be cautious about the impact our day to day actions have on our health and take necessary preventive measures. Sleeping well and on time is a harm reduction methodology as it can help avoid many diseases and health complications over time.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day — at the very least, on weekdays. If need be, use weekends to make up for lost sleep.
  • Create a sleep sanctuary. Reserve your bedroom for sleep and intimacy.
  • Banish the television, computer, smartphone or tablet, and other diversions you’re your bedroom
  • Taking a nap at the peak of sleepiness in the afternoon can help to supplement hours missed at night. But naps can also interfere with your ability to sleep at night and throw your sleep schedule into disarray.
  • If you need to nap, limit it to 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Avoid caffeine after noon and go light on alcohol. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to 12 hours. Alcohol can act as a sedative, but it also disturbs sleep.
  • Get regular exercise, but not within three hours of bedtime. Exercise acts as a short-term stimulant.

Preventing iron deficiency through a healthy diet is harm reduction in pregnant women

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

The terms iron deficiency and anemia cannot be used interchangeably and are different

New Delhi, 22nd February 2019: As per a recent study, fortification coupled with supplementation may expose varying but significant proportions of women in 24 states or union territories to the risk of an excessive iron intake. The tolerable upper limit for women of reproductive age is 45 mg per day. Prolonged exposure to iron above this limit could put women at risk of experiencing symptoms such as gastric acidity, constipation, oxidative (physiological) stress or changes in their gut bacterial profile.

Iron deficiency (depleted iron stores in the body) and anemia, on the other hand, are often perceived as interchangeable terms. While iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, but the two are different. Deficiency of iron without anemia is much more prevalent than is detected. A person may have iron deficiency even if the hemoglobin is normal. The majority are unaware of their iron deficient state.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia, and occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of this mineral. In the absence of enough iron in the blood stream, the rest of your body cannot get the amount of oxygen it needs. What exacerbates this condition is that many people are unaware that they have iron deficiency anemia. At times, one may experience the symptoms for years without knowing what they are due to. A poor diet or certain intestinal diseases that affect iron absorption can also lead to this condition. This deficiency is usually treated with iron supplements or changes to diet.”

Some symptoms of moderate-to-severe iron deficiency anemia include general fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, dizziness, cravings for things such as dirt, a tingling or crawling feeling in the legs, soreness or swelling in the tongue, cold hands and feet, fast or irregular heartbeat, brittle nails, and headaches.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Mostly, iron deficiency anemia is mild, and does not lead to any further complications, and can be corrected easily. However, if left untreated for a long time, it can cause other health problems. In pregnant women, this can lead to the birth of a premature or low-birth-weight baby. Consuming a healthy diet rich in all the essential nutrients is thus a way of reducing harm.”

Some tips from HCFI

• Eat foods rich in iron such as green and leafy vegetables, red meat, lentils, beans, and iron-fortified cereals and breads.

• Include vitamin C-rich foods and drinks in your diet as it will help the body in absorbing iron.

• Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals, as this affects the absorption of iron.

• Include enough sources of vitamin B12 and folic acid in your diet.

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