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Why South Asians have higher diabetes risk

Why South Asians have higher diabetes risk

Until June 16 is ear-marked as Diabetes Awareness Week. Did you know that there's an increase in the number of South Asians being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes?

I've had family members diagnosed with it and am sure you most likely know someone who is either diabetic or pre diabetic. If you are concerned about your risk of diabetes, I'm sharing what my clients are doing to improve their sugar levels. What increases diabetes risk?

Genetic predisposition

As South Asians, we have a higher genetic susceptibility to insulin resistance.

The good news is that dietary and lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Being overweight/ High body fat

If you are overweight or obese, or have a higher body fat percentage, especially around the abdomen, your risk of diabetes increases.

If you do nothing, you are more likely to stay at the same weight or it keeps increasing.

You've got to make changes to get to a healthier weight and body fat levels.

Sedentary Lifestyles

Many of us lead busy lives with little physical activity. Include some movement into your daily routine. Highly recommend going for a walk, even 20 to 30 minutes daily makes a difference. Then slowly, over time, increase your activity.

Refined Grains

Eating refined grains like white rice, white bread or rotis made with refined wheat flour can spike blood sugar levels. A simple change is to have wholegrains like brown rice, brown bread or roti made with whole wheat flour.

High Sugar Intake

Are you adding sugar when cooking, such as in your daals or curries? Or are you adding sugar to your tea or coffee? Or having too many sweet treats likes cookies, cakes or traditional Indian sweets like jalebis or gulab jamuns? You need to reduce your sugar intake and replace the refined sugars with honey or jaggery.

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Cooking Methods

Using too much oil or ghee or eating too many fried foods like pakoras and samosas, can contribute to insulin resistance. Instead of frying, can you bake or use an air fryer? I have been guiding on how to still enjoy your favourite treats by using healthier cooking methods.

Low Fibre

Did you know that a low fibre diet can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels? Include fibre-rich foods like beans, lentils, vegetables, and whole grains in your meals. For instance, add a serving of chickpeas or lentils.

Low Protein Diet

A common problem I see is not having sufficient protein, and instead having too many refined grains. Always include protein foods such as beans, lentils, tofu, yogurt, and eggs. If you are non-vegetarian, can have fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, etc.  

There may be some misunderstanding about the key role that diet and lifestyle play in preventing diabetes.

Please take the first step and begin to educate yourself about healthy dietary choices and lifestyle changes. And do get regular medical checkups with your doctor to monitor blood sugar levels and other health markers.

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Early detection can help manage and even prevent diabetes.

Don't ignore diabetes as it can lead to complications with eyesight, kidneys, nerves and other issues. Understand what factors are increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes amongst South Asians. Then take proactive steps to reduce these risks.

Sujata Din is a Certified Health Coach and Certified Professional Cancer Coach. In this regular column for iGlobal, she offers some special insights, from useful wellness tips to recipes for creations that are not only delicious but also healthy.

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