"Indians are genetically susceptible"
The South Asian population is genetically prone to type 2 diabetes.
Contributing factors include calorific diets, genetics and a lack of exercise.
They also have poorer diabetes management, putting them at a higher risk of serious health complications.
Thankfully there are food-related ways to manage it.
Raji Jayadev, an accredited practising dietitian, has come up with some Indian dietary tips to help to tackle the disease.
Talking about the high risk of type 2 diabetes in Indians compared to others, Raji said:
“Indians are genetically susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.
“They develop diabetes five to 10 years earlier than Caucasians.”
Raji has given some healthy Indian food tips to lower the risk of developing the disease.
Stay away from added fats
Raji advises staying clear of adding any extra fat to traditional recipes.
This includes cream, butter and any sort of unhealthy extra fat. She said:
“Do not use ghee in cooking, use monounsaturated fats like olive oil or peanut oil instead.”
“Always opt for fat-free milk and yoghurt, and limit your use of paneer (Indian cheese).”
Manage your staple food
Indians are used to rice and chapatis, which poses a great risk for developing type 2 diabetes. However, they cannot be avoided completely.
To address the issue, Raji Jayadev advises:
“I encourage Indians to use brown rice, which is nutritionally superior to white rice, or basmati rice (has a low glycemic index).
“Add nuts and vegetables to spicy dishes to increase the nutrition quality and control blood glucose levels after a meal.”
For chapatis, she advises consuming wholewheat alternatives as they are high in fibre. She added:
“Fibre makes you feel fuller for a longer amount of time and prevents overeating.”
Add more veggies into the diet
Raji insists on bulking up curries with as many vegetables as possible.
She advises adding tomatoes and green leafy vegetables into the curries.
Vegetables will help to increase the number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals present in the meal.
Use more spices
Although Indian cuisine is famous for being spicy, Raji advises that adding more spices are actually good. She says:
“Condiments like coriander, cumin and pepper and spices like cloves, cardamom, cinnamon are commonly used in Indian cooking.
“They are incredibly rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, but the amount used is insignificant.”
Therefore, she advises using them in beverages also, like masala chai and turmeric milk.
Add some soybeans
Raji recommends adding soybeans into your routine diet. She explained:
“Indians use most types of legumes in dishes but not soybeans.
“Soybeans contain high-quality protein and unsaturated fat, which is healthier compared to saturated fat.”
She further gives the tip that soybeans go well with lentil curries like sambar.
There are lots of dietary plans and healthy lifestyles to avoid type 2 diabetes.
However, Raji believes that these five everyday tips work great to improve your blood sugar levels.
The risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The risk of type 2 diabetes is not evenly spread across the globe.
South Asians have an innate biological susceptibility to developing the disease.
With its expected 70 million diabetic population by 2025, India is regarded as the world’s capital of diabetes.
Raji Jayadev also suggests that lifestyle changes are a strong influence in boosting the risk of diabetes. She says:
“Their risk may increase as their lifestyle changes to incorporate less physical activity and their diet includes more Western-style foods.”
Raji says that those with busy lifestyles sometimes opt for processed foods in order to save time.
“If you work long hours, there may not be a lot of time to go shopping for fruits and vegetables and cook at home.
“So you tend to grab whatever food is available on the go and make do.”
She says that such people eat takeaways and pre-packaged foods from Indian shops.
Such an unhealthy diet can increase abdominal fat and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Advising South Asians to return to a healthier and more traditional diet, Raji concluded:
“The traditional Indian diet that existed before the 1970s is a lot different to the diet we see in both India and Australia today.
“It was healthy, featured lots of high-fibre legumes, whole grains and vegetables, and contained little fish or meat.”