Diabetes care for people with diabetes is centered around managing their lifestyle. Diabetes is a disease that can be positively impacted by emphasizing a healthy lifestyle, physical activity, and implementing dietary goals that help reduce calorie intake.
Diabetes leads to stress, anxiety, and general distress. Meditation helps reduce stress. It increases concentration, memory, clarity of thought, and willpower and rejuvenates the whole body and mind, giving them proper rest. A combination of modern medicine, yoga, and meditation is likely to benefit diabetes patients. Herbal medicine’s role will continue, at best, to be supportive of contemporary diabetes management. But if we adopt the lifestyle changes recommended by Ayurveda and TCM, we will be healthier.
Our understanding of the role of food on lifestyle has been growing over the past decades. The gut and brain are interconnected. The gut is now widely accepted as the second human brain or gut-brain. Together they impact the whole body.
Microbial genomes in the gut exceed the size of the human genome. The size of the gut genome is around 500- fold more than the size of the human genes. This gut genome is essential for helping digest indigestible dietary fibers and other nutrients.
This microbial ecosystem in the gut gets modified through diet, probiotics, drugs, and surgical interventions. This ecosystem will then directly impact the body’s ability to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients. This understanding is throwing up the potential of developing personalized medical regimes for type 2 diabetes patients. (Brunkwall, L. et al., 2017)
The gut microflora evolves and changes from infancy onwards. Some of the influencing factors identified include the type of infant feeding, hospitalization, and early maturity. Dietary nutrients, periodicity, and frequency of use of antibiotics are other factors influencing the microbiome. (Musso, G. et al., 2010).
Assessment and explaining the nature of gut microbiota has become a significant research area in studying endocrine-related ailments like diabetes. Gut microbial markers will help classify type 2 diabetes patients who, in the future, will be able to receive personalized treatment and dietary recommendations. (Qin, J. et al., 2012) Keeping a healthy microbiota is an essential component of diabetes care.
Diet is a critical element in diabetes care and control. Avoid refined, highly processed carbohydrate foods, foods with added sugar, sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea or coffee, juice, white bread, white rice, sugary cereal, sweets, and snack foods like cake, cookies, candy, and chips. Nuts like peanuts, walnuts, and almonds have a lot of fiber and healthy fat. Keep the portion size small, as these contain a lot of calories.
Ayurveda prescribes a diet based on an individual’s personality and body type. It believes that excessive use of yogurt, meat, fish, newly harvested grain, desserts made from jaggery and sugar, sugary drinks, beer, and alcohol will increase obesity and contribute to diabetes. Excessive fasting, cold beverages, and bitter and pungent foods will also trigger diabetes.
Ayurveda, therefore, forbids people with diabetes to consume alcohol, milk and milk products, sugary drinks, clarified butter, butter, cheese, and yogurt in addition to meats.
Ayurveda recommends a wholesome and balanced diet. They suggest the consumption of barley, whole wheat, brown rice, and ancient grains like millet. Chickpeas, and pulses of various types, like Cajanus cajan, green gram, and horse gram, are advised.
In TCM, too, diet is customized to individual lifestyle, body type, physical condition, age, and season. According to TCM, diabetes occurs when there is a deficiency of Yin and an excess of internal heat. They recommend consuming foods like spinach, which they regard as cooling. It strengthens all the organs and promotes urination.
Vegetables and grains recommendations include celery, pumpkin, soybeans, string beans, sweet potato, turnips, tomato, wheat bran, and millet; fruits like crab apple, guava, plum strawberry, and mulberry, along with seasonal fruit and vegetables. Meal size should be small, and meals should be frequent. (Covington, M.B., 2001).