Can proper dieting alone rid one of certain like diabetes as some people/companies who sell food supplements claim?
It is not dieting but a correct type of diet which helps in control of blood sugar levels in diabetes. In fact in type II diabetes (where body cells are resistant to insulin present or insulin levels are inadequate as per requirement), , dietary measures along with regular physical exercise forms first line of management. The diet plan includes avoiding white sugar altogether. Consumption of total calories as per the age, gender and level of physical activity is part of the diet plan. The diet should be low in fats and carbohydrates. Diet exchange plans are available to adjust for excess calories consumed in any form at any time. In general type of foods recommended are fish, whole grains, fresh vegetables and low sugar containing fruits like apples, orange. If dietary measures and regular exercise fail to control high blood sugar levels, then anti diabetes medicines are started. In case of type I diabetes, only treatment option is insulin as the body fails to produce insulin,
There are many kinds of food supplements that claim to cure diabetes. But many of these have not been tested rigorously. Many herbal preparation and plant products like fenugreek, bitter gourd, e.t.c. are known to lower blood sugar, but their amount required as per blood sugar levels has not been specified by studies. .Tall claims are made by companies selling so called diabetes curing food supplements, but they do not mention adverse effects. These supplements or herbal products may have potential interactions with medicines being used by the person, which can cause dangerous reactions. One should know that what is mentioned on the cover of the container of a food supplement, may not be present necessarily inside. Some herbal supplements when tested were found not having all the contents as claimed. Hence these cannot be made substitutes for anti diabetic medicines which have a known action, adverse effects and specific dose. One should be extra cautious while using these supplements in case of pregnant or lactating women and small children.
Moreover one should understand very well that diabetes occurs due to lack of sufficient insulin or resistance to insulin present within the body. Since fault lies within the body, it cannot be cured permanently and therefore antidiabetic medicines are taken for life. The dose varies as per the blood sugar levels and other associated conditions.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital