World Diabetes Day: How to know if your thirst is associated with diabetes; how to safely treat diabetes naturally
We are also witnessing type 2 diabetes in people in their 20s. Type 1 diabetes on the contrary occurs in the younger children (3-4 years old) and even in 6 months old, but that is not a lifestyle change related disease, it happens because of pancreas destruction. Type 2 diabetes is purely a lifestyle disease occurring due to faulty eating and less exercise, shares Dr. Dheeraj Kapoor, Chief – Endocrinology, Artemis Hospital Gurugram adds.
Why do diabetics feel thirsty all the time?
Dr Priyamvada Tyagi, Associate Consultant- Endocrinology, Max Hospital, Patparganj explains, “Diabetic thirst is called polydipsia. Your tissues (such as your muscles) are, in fact, dehydrated when there’s too much glucose (sugar) in your blood. Your kidney pulls fluid from the tissues to try to dilute the blood and counteract the high glucose and try to excrete it out so your tissues will be dehydrated and send the message that you need to drink more.”
Risks of drinking too much water
Our body cells need water to function efficiently. But many times due to underlying health issues (like diabetes) or to lose weight, people tend to drink excess water, which can be problematic and lead to overhydration. “There’s no single formula to determine how much water you should drink daily. The popular recommendation of eight glasses a day is a good starting point. You should adjust your intake around this amount depending on your environment, exercise regimen, and overall health. Excess water intake may lead to low sodium, confusion, low heart rate,” adds Dr Tyagi.
Dr. Dheeraj Kapoor, Chief – Endocrinology, Artemis Hospital Gurugram adds, “Water is pushed out of the kidney, and it is pumped by heart in the form of blood. If the kidney and the heart functions properly, whatever amount of water you intake will not do any harm to you, on the contrary, good fluid intake will benefit you from the side effects. However if the heart pumping is poor, the fluid tends to accumulate in the lungs, which is known as congestive heart failure. Also if the kidneys do not filter out water and produce enough urine, the water tends to accumulate in the body causing swelling which is known as edema. Therefore, with a normally functioning heart or kidney, excess water intake causes no harm, but if either of the part’s functioning is compromised, it can cause excess water accumulation in your body.”
Is it safe to rely on natural methods to cure diabetes?
Lifestyle modifications like regular physical activity and dietary restrictions are a very important part of diabetes management. In India, there are many indigenous solutions available which include taking methi, karela, neem, jamun etc.. As long as people are taking medicines prescribed to them regularly, there’s no harm in taking them together. But skipping medicines may lead to elevated blood sugars and lead to development of long term complications, warns Dr Tyagi.
Dr Kapoor adds, “If the sugar levels are not checked, it will be counterproductive. The problem is that 60% of our patients do not have symptoms of increased thirst, weight loss or increased urination. Hence not checking sugar levels because of no symptoms and being under the impression that sugar levels are controlled can cause problems. Lifestyle measures with or without medicine are mandatory but at the same time it is important to keep a check on your sugar level, to have an objective of overview. If the sugar levels are controlled which means HbA1c around 6.5 mark, it is okay to not take medicine however if despite lifestyle changes you have high sugar, it is important to consult your doctor.”
Diet to fight diabetes
The Indian diet is rich in carbohydrates (60-65%), which is a major contributor for increase in blood sugar. ICMR recently released guidelines recommending diabetics to cut down carbs and increase protein to manage the condition.
Diabetics should cut down on their carbs, but it is important to understand that sweets and chapati, both are carbs, yet they are not the same. Simple sugar has to be stopped, but complex carbohydrates can be taken. The guideline was that around 50% of your sugar should come from carbohydrates. The glycemic load (GL) of food is a number that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. For example chapatis are allowed but 4 units of chapati are too much. Hence carbohydrates can be taken but in moderation. Carbohydrate is the basic currency for your body but should be taken in moderation. Would not suggest going off carbs totally, there may be some reduction but still it should form a big chunk of your diet, adds Dr Kapoor.
As for physical activity, the best is the one you can do consistently.