Diabetes has become a very common disease affecting more than 62 million Indians. It can affect women and men of all ages and every ethnic category. It is also called a Silent Killer as many cases of diabetes remain undiagnosed for an average of 4 to 7 years.
Diabetes profoundly affects health-related quality of life and places large financial demands on the health care system. It is important to understand the basics of the disease Diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease resulting from a defect in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar (glucose) and is found in pancreas. This impaired insulin secretion or function results in elevated levels of plasma glucose with disturbances in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. The symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger (polyphagia), weight loss, vision changes and fatigue.
Ayurveda can greatly help diabetic patients. Diabetes is named Prameha in Ayurveda. Among three types of Prameha occurring due to three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha, the Vata type of Prameha is most difficult to treat as per Ayurveda. ‘Aasya Sukham, Swapana Sukham’ i.e. prolonged sitting or sleeping and heavy unhealthy diets are actual causes of diabetes. It has been narrated in Ayurveda that long periods of physical inactivity, laziness, sleeping for long hours, and excessive intake of food which is heavy to digest like dairy products, meat of aquatic and marshy animals, sugar/jaggery preparations, fresh grains and foods that increase Kapha are the generalized causes of Madhumeha. Ayurveda has advised various herbs and herbal formulations which effectively lower blood glucose level. It can act as an adjuvant along with conventional medicine by its rejuvenating and restorative remedies to overcome the side effects and complications of Diabetes. More over the diet and lifestyle modifications advised in Ayurveda along with Yoga can act as preventive measures to avoid the risk factor of Diabetes in healthy individuals. Most important aspect of Ayurvedic treatment is its cost effectiveness. It can be of great help to economically weaker sections of society. Some Ayurvedic preventive and curative guidelines for Madhumeha or Diabetes are summarized below:
* Avoid the causative factors of Diabetes. Eat healthy, low in sugar content, fiber rich and nutritive food. Restrict Kapha increasing, heavy, oily and difficult to digest foods.
* Adopt an active routine. Exercise regularly. Include morning or evening walk and yoga in your daily routine. Avoid sleep during daytime and laziness.
* Count your steps. Walk around few hundred steps after each meal. Try to walk at least five to ten thousand steps a day.
* Include one year old cereals like barley, wheat, gram and pulses like red gram, horse gram and green gram in your diet. Multi grain flour is a good option.
* Include green leafy vegetables like fenugreek, spinaches, chenopodium or bathua, bitter gourd, white gourd etc in your diet.
* Add some spices in your recipes like cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chamomile seeds, rosemary, garlic, ginger, basil, cinnamon, dandelion, fennel seeds, peppermint, stevia, turmeric etc.
* Eat fruits like pomegranate, orange, guava, gooseberries, blackberries, bel which are low in sugar but high in fiber.
* Some Ayurvedic herbs useful for diabetic patients are
* Gooseberries or amla (Phyllanthus emblica) -dried fruit powder 3-6 gm with warm water
* Turmeric or haldi (Curcuma longa)-Rhizome 1-3 gm with lukewarm water
* Blackberries or jamun (Syzigium cumini)-seed powder 3-6 gm with water
* Medhasringi (Gymnema sylvestre)- Leafs 3-6 gm
* Fenugreek or Methi (Trigonella foenum)-leaves and seed 3-6 gm with water
* Kumari (Aloe vera) juice or leaf Pulp 10-15 ml
* Neem (Azadirachtha indica)-seeds, Leaf and stem bark 3-6 gm with water
* Vijayasara (Pterocarpus marsupium)-stem 3-6 gm with water
* Karela (Bitter gourd-Momordica charantia)-seeds 3-6 gm with water
By adopting these healthy eating and lifestyle habits any individual can avoid diabetes. Moreover these tips will surely help the diabetic patients to fight and beat the side effects of this disease. Trust in goodness of Ayurveda and enjoy its benefits. Chronic diabetic patients may consult a qualified Ayurvedic physician.
(The author is Assistant Professor, Govt. Ayurvedic Medical College, Jammu)