Dr. Jitendra Singh
The importance and efficacy of lifestyle changes or modifications in the control and prevention of Diabetes Mellitus has repeatedly reiterated in these columns. The assertion finds testimony in the enormous benefits experienced by those who have seriously adopted suitable healthy changes in their lifestyle. Nevertheless, this is an era of evidence based science and evidence based medicine where each postutation calls for substantiation through hard data and precise statistics.
Currently available scientific evidence and statistics indicate that lifestyle changes could reduce incidence of Diabetes by more than 50 percent in high risk individuals and thus could prove even more effective than any possible preventive medication.
Equally Dffective in All Ethnic Groups
Needless to state that unprecedented rise in prevalence of Diabetes the world over is also accompanied by an alarming rise in the number of people falling prey to some of the debilitating diabetic complications like end stage kidney Disease and irreversible kidney failure. Any measure or programme aimed at preventing diabetes therefore also helps in preventing incapacitation of large sections of population.
The widely published “Diabetes Prevention Programme” was the first to report the effect of atleast 7 percent weight loss and atleast 150 minutes of physical activity per week. The results published by it were amazing. During a period of about three years, lifestyle intervention was found to reduce incidence of Diabetes by around 58 percent compared to around 31 percent reduction achieved by medicinal intervention. Encouragingly, the lifestyle changes seemed to work in all situations in all sections of population irrespective of whichever ethnic group, race or nationality they belonged.
Special Significance for Indians
Diabetes prevention through diligently pursued lifestyle changes has a special significance for Indians for reasons more than one. First , Indians as a race are known to be inherently at a higher risk of developing Diabetes compared to other communities or ethnic groups and the enhanced susceptibility of Indians continues to haunt them even after they migrate and settle outside India. Second, the lifestyle moditifications methods like timely meals, high fibre diet, regular exercise, yoga etc recommended by even the western experts are much closer to the traditional Indian ethos. Third, India being a developing country, the economic burden of diabetes treatment is beyond the means of a larger populace. Lifestyle changes therefore offer a cost-free option, for diabetes prevention and anagement.
In the end, important to realize is that if westerners turn to lifestyle modifications inherent to oriental culture, is it not in the fitness of things for us to reevaluate and revive the lifestyle values which are inherently Indian?
Dr. Jitendra Singh