It's all in the food
You are what you eat: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Photo: R. Ragu
WESTERN medicine explains diabetes as a disease that occurs when the body experiences an overload of sugar and cannot produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starch and other foods into energy needed for daily life. While the cause of diabetes remains a mystery, factors such as genetics, obesity and lack of exercise are understood to play a role. Treatment through western medicine stresses right nutrition, exercise and medication, but the number of diabetics continue to grow. Anju Venkat, nutritionist at Mumbai's Health Awareness Centre, says that the body has a different perception of the problem, which also needs understanding. The Centre has acquired a considerable following in the city. Among them are diabetes patients who say this approach has helped them get back on the path of health.
HOW does the body perceive diabetes?
The cells in the human body regulate the body's functions, enabling it to adapt and cope. They depend on energy drawn from nutrients in our daily diet. When they are deprived of these nutrients, body building, repair and maintenance are retarded.
The cells depend on the body's ability to metabolise or extract glucose from our daily food for energy. This happens at the cellular level, and is assisted by the respiratory, digestive and endocrine system. Detrimental lifestyle changes that are imposed too fast undermine the body's capacity to adapt. When natural body rhythms are thrown out of gear, there is no time for repair, maintenance or elimination of toxins. This lack of balance produces symptoms that Western medicine calls "disease".
The body, however, sees these symptoms as a transition period while it triggers coping mechanisms. The symptoms are a signal to slow down. The body wants you to question these changes that may be linked to factors such as food, travel or thought process, find out what is the cause of this "dis-ease" and rectify the wrong habits.
How does the body manifest its "dis-ease" over diabetes?
When the cells are deprived of glucose, the body sends signals for help. These manifest through hunger pangs, weakness, craving for sugar. Stuffing on a chocolate bar leads to excess sugar in the blood and symptoms like burning while passing urine, thirst, irritability and hyperactivity. This also happens to an average person, who does not suffer from disease. It is the body's way of regulating itself.
When the body does not receive help with right nutrition, it sends signals telling you that, in the absence of right nutritional support, there is a build-up of toxins and it is seeking to eliminate them. These are manifested through allergies, aches and pains and are often dismissed as "minor complaints".
If you ignore the initial signals, then you are preparing your body for the onset of diseases. Thereafter, the body creates more pressing physical symptoms numbness in toes and fingers, excessive urination, itching, hunger pangs. In time, these become more serious non-healing wounds, gangrene, and loss of eyesight.
The body is now desperately trying to tell you that something has gone wrong. You must understand, however, that these are still symptoms that indicate something is going wrong and that this situation is reversible. Your seeking to bring control through medication as prescribed in Western medicine is not dealing with the root cause of the problem.
So how does one address the root cause?
The primary need is for nutrients that are a source of energy. Hence all food is first broken down into glucose, and then converted to other nutrients like minerals, vitamins, amino and fatty acids, in proportions that the body requires. This is a continuous process.
This function can be hampered by three factors the build-up of toxins caused by wrong diet or harmful food; excessive amount of time spent on digestion because of wrong diet; and the build up of stress due to wrong lifestyle. These lead to low or high levels of blood sugar resulting in an imbalance in normal functioning.
When such imbalance is created, the body begins to prioritise. Digestion of food is its primary job that cannot be postponed. So the body is preoccupied with this process, and does not focus on its other responsibilities of body building, repair and maintenance.
Starved of energy, the cells require glucose. In response, the brain signals the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin, which normally carries the metabolised glucose to the cells. However, the body's preoccupation with digestion means that the production of glucose is inadequate and there is a major "traffic jam". A blood sugar test at this time will show low readings.
After a meal there will be a high blood sugar reading. This happens because the pancreas releases insulin to get the blood sugar levels back to normal. The body, however, does not know how much insulin to release because it has not put this sugar in the blood through the normal process. When the sugar levels first rose, extra insulin was released to control it. This created hunger pangs. The next meal, however, still contains wrong foods. And so the vicious cycle continues.
Apart from an overloaded digestive system, the body cannot cope with foods that cause toxicity. Excessive consumption of carbohydrates like rice or wheat, saturated fat or milk results in the build-up of mucous or gluten that cannot be eliminated easily.
These toxins clog the normally porous cellular walls and suppress the sensors attached to them. The sensors tell the brain how much glucose is present in the cells, and whether more is required from the blood, but blocked sensors cannot convey accurate messages, and glucose cannot be absorbed by the toxin-coated cell walls.
Stress is the third causative factor. But high sugar count in this case is not to be feared because it is a part of the body's natural coping mechanism. If this situation of stress becomes chronic, then the body has no choice but to keep high glucose levels constant in the blood. The question then is not how to decrease this sugar level, but how to reduce the stress levels.
If you eat several complex carbohydrate foods like rice, bread, roti and pasta then there is an excess production of sugar, which are metabolised. It goes directly into the blood as instant sugar, and causes the body to panic because of such sudden flooding. Complex carbohydrates have a "high glycemic index" which cause sugar levels to jump and create high blood sugar reading.
We need foods that have a low "glycemic index" that are absorbed slowly and converted into glucose. For instance, sugar from raw vegetables or pulses have a slower absorption in the blood. All such food has a double bonus of being high soluble fibre foods and therefore easily digested.
Contact Anju Venkat at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The ideal diet
Breakfast should have at least five different seasonal fresh fruits. Meals should be loaded with raw salads, steamed vegetables, sprouts. Snack on dry fruits or unsalted raw nuts and seeds (jaggery-sweetened til luddos).
If you must occasionally eat other foods, then know that it is purely for taste, and its acidic impact on the body is best nullified with "lime shots" (an equal amount of lemon juice and water), to ensure the alkaline environment in the body. Milk, refined flour, oil and sugar; tea and coffee are best eliminated, for they raise the acidic and toxin levels in the body.
There is no bar on fruits. Sugar from all fruits contains fructose, which is unlike sucrose produced by refined sugar. To produce glucose from sugar you need insulin, but to turn fructose into glucose the presence of insulin is not required. This reduces the load on the pancreas.
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