Modifying lifestyle, diet have immense benefits for diabetic patients: Dietician Ayesha Nasir

Modifying lifestyle, diet have immense benefits for diabetic patients: Dietician Ayesha Nasir
Lahore: Dietician Ayesha Nasir shares her insight into the role nutrition and diet can play in dealing diabetes.

According to a report published by International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Pakistan is now among the top 10 countries in the world for absolute increase in diabetes prevalence. The report has been released on the same day the world marks World Diabetes Day.

The figures released by IDF reported that more than 38 million adults are now estimated to be living with diabetes globally.

In Pakistan, over 19 million adults are estimated to be living with diabetes out of which around 8.5 million are undiagnosed causing serious medical issues.

It is, therefore, extremely important to be aware about the disease and to know what difference diet can make in your ability to control your blood sugar.

Many dietitians can help in diabetes management as well as planning healthy diets based on individuals’ health needs.

We consulted registered dietician Dr. Ayesha Nasir and asked her few relevant questions on what role nutrition and balanced diet can play an in diabetes management.

What role does nutrition play in diabetes?

Dr. Ayesha: Once you get diabetes, it can never be cured. However, it can be managed by controlling your diet. Modifying life style has immense benefits for diabetic patients. Blood sugar levels are directly linked to what you eat. Diet control can lead to a normal life style while an uncontrolled blood sugar level can lead to complications such as heart disease and kidney failure.

What fruits are harmful for diabetic people?

Dr. Ayesha: All fruits that have a high glycemic index are harmful, for example, mangoes, bananas and grapes. Diabetic people can eat all other fruits, but only one at a time.

What about drinks?

Dr. Ayesha: All kinds of sodas and all kinds of fruit juice are harmful for diabetics.

Even fresh juices?

Dr. Ayesha: Yes, even fresh juices as you intake more fruits in the form of juices then you take usually.

Can exercise help in controlling blood sugar levels?

Dr. Ayesha: Definitely. When you burn calories, blood sugar levels drop. A controlled weight and exercise are both directly linked to diabetes.

Can obesity lead to diabetes?

Dr. Ayesha: Yes, other than heart patients and those suffering from renal diseases, we get to see patients who deal with diabetes because of their weight.

It is often said that diabetes can be controlled through diet alone, medicine isn’t necessary. Is this true?

Dr. Ayesha: Individuals react differently to every disease. While it may be true that some patients do not have high sugar levels and can control those with dietary management alone, but for others medicine and dietary control are both necessary. In medical terms, if the HbA1C is less than 6.5, you don’t need medicine and can manage through diet alone. For any level higher than that, both medicine and dietary control are required.

What is medical nutrition therapy and how is it useful?

Dr. Ayesha: Any medical condition that can be managed or controlled through food intake is part of medical nutrition therapy. As is the case with diabetes, this therapy helps in managing the condition and keeping it in control.