Enjoying life ... with diabetes

Updated 10 February 2015

Enjoying life ... with diabetes

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes is continuously increasing and this is particularly true for Saudi Arabia where 3.8 million cases of diabetes have been registered in 2014.
The reason behind this dramatic rise is the way we live. Most of us eat a diet high in fat and calories, low in fruits and vegetables and we have also become physically less active. Consequently, we are either overweight or obese and this increases the risk of diabetes.
‘Mayo Clinic The Essential Diabetes Book’ brings together a team of specialists from the Mayo Clinic who share with us the latest information on how to live well with diabetes.
The term “diabetes” refers to a group of diseases that affect the way your body uses blood glucose, also called blood sugar. Glucose is the main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues, or in other words, it’s your body’s main source of fuel.
Glucose comes both from the food you eat and your liver. During digestion it enters the body’s cells thanks to the action of insulin, itself secreted by the pancreas. Insulin acts like a key enabling glucose to enter your cells. In other ways insulin lowers the amount of glucose in the bloodstream, preventing from reaching high levels.
When you have diabetes, glucose builds up in the bloodstream and eventually some of it is excreted in the urine. Diabetes classic warning signs and symptoms are excessive thirst and frequent urination. Other signs and symptoms to look for are constant hunger, weight gain, blurred vision, flu like symptoms, including weakness and fatigue and recurring bladder infection.
Many people first learn they have diabetes through blood tests done for another condition. A fasting blood glucose level under 100 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood is considered normal. If your glucose measures from 100 to 125 mg/dL, you have what is referred to as prediabetes and if your glucose results are 126 mg/dL or higher, you have diabetes.
Incidentally, prediabetes shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a sign that you are at high risk of developing diabetes and that you should see your doctor regularly and take steps to control your glucose.
How often you need to test your blood glucose depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. If you take insulin, you should test your blood glucose frequently, at least twice a day.
“If you have type 2 diabetes and you don’t need insulin, test your blood glucose as often as necessary to make sure it’s under control. For some people, this may mean daily testing while for others it might be twice a week,” advises Nancy Klobassa.
One of the most useful chapters of this book tells you how to develop healthy-eating habits.
“Contrary to popular myth, having diabetes doesn’t mean that you have to start eating special foods or follow a complicated diet plan. For most people, having diabetes simply translates into eating a variety of foods in moderate amount and sticking to regular mealtimes,” writes Jennifer Nelson.
But that does not mean that you have to start counting calories or watching fat grams. Now is the time to think about food in a different manner. Each day, you must eat a variety of foods which include carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Incidentally, for years people with diabetes were warned to avoid sweets but diabetes nutrition has now changed:
“It was once assumed that honey, candy and other sweets would raise your blood sugar level faster and higher than fruits, vegetables or foods containing complex carbohydrates. But many studies have shown this isn’t true, as long as the sweets are eaten with a meal and balanced with other foods in your meal plan” writes Jennifer Nelson.
Therefore you can substitute small portions of sweets for other carbohydrates such as bread, rice, cereals fruit or milk for example. To allow yourself to have some sweets as part of a meal, you can either replace some of the carbohydrates in your meal with a sweet or swap a carb-containing food in your meal for something with fewer carbohydrates.
Artificial sweeteners also offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories but beware that many products with artificial sweeteners such as baked goods and artificially sweetened yogurt still contain calories and carbohydrates that can affect your blood sugar level.
“Don’t be surprised if your tastes change as you adopt healthier eating habits. Food that you once loved may seem too sweet and healthy substitutes may become your new idea of delicious,” says Jennifer Nelson.
Finally, it is important to eat at regular intervals because this reduces large variations in blood glucose and eases digestion.
And you should aim for a wide variety of foods eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean means and low-fat dairy products.
People who regularly eat a variety of healthy ingredients reduce the risk of developing diabetes and other diseases such as heart disease, cancer, digestive disorders, age-related vision loss and osteoporosis.
In a chapter focusing on personal fitness, Paula Ricke reminds us that research also shows that physical activity is important when it comes to management of diabetes.
“Physical activity can help lower your blood sugar as well as improve your body’s ability to use insulin.”
It is generally recommended that for a good health and wellbeing, adults should exercise 30 minutes a day, five times a week. If you haven’t been active for a long time, start slowly with 10 minutes a day and each week, increase the length of time you exercise by five minutes.
This publication features useful and practical advice from some of the world’s top medical experts at the Mayo Clinic. Their advice will help you both understand diabetes and also realize that even small, everyday decisions can have a positive impact on your health. Mayo Clinic Essential Diabetes Guide reassures us that we can live well with diabetes or in other words we can enjoy a full and productive life.

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Kartarpur corridor deal between Pakistan and India to be signed on Oct. 24

Updated 8 min 47 sec ago

Kartarpur corridor deal between Pakistan and India to be signed on Oct. 24

  • Border crossing will give Indian Sikhs visa-free access to Darbar Sahib in Pakistan

NEW DELHI, LAHORE: India has postponed signing a deal that will allow Sikhs to visit a holy shrine in neighboring Pakistan without a visa, a Foreign Ministry official in New Delhi was reported as saying.

The Kartarpur Corridor connects the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib, in India’s Punjab region, to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan. 

The visa-free border crossing will be inaugurated next month, days ahead of one of Sikhism’s most sacred festivals and the 550th birthday of the religion’s founder.

Media reports said that the signing of the deal had been pushed back by a day to Oct. 24 and that C. L. Das, an official handling internal security at India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, would meet Pakistan officials along the border to sign the agreement.

The corridor is a rare example of cooperation and diplomacy between the two South Asian rivals, who came to the brink of war in February following a suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir. 

Ties nose-dived further in August when India flooded its portion of the disputed valley with troops, imposed a communications lockdown and revoked the special legal status of the territory.

But finalizing the corridor project has proved tricky.

Earlier this week, India’s External Affairs Ministry said it was disappointed by Pakistan’s decision to levy a $20 service fee per pilgrim.

“It is a matter of disappointment that while understanding has been reached on most of the elements for facilitating the visit of pilgrims from India, Pakistan continue to insist on levying a service fee,” said the ministry. “Government has consistently urged Pakistan that in deference to the wishes of the pilgrims, it should not levy such a fee. While agreeing to sign the agreement, the government of Pakistan has been once again urged to reconsider its insistence to levy service fee on pilgrims. India would be ready to amend the agreement accordingly at any time.”

The connecting bridge at the border was also a significant issue. India favored an elevated bridge but Pakistan was only willing to build an embankment, fearing a possible breach in security.

New Delhi said all the infrastructure was in place in time for the project’s inauguration, which is expected to be attended by former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Islamabad has also invited Singh to be part of the inaugural ceremony but he has yet to accept. Despite the bumps in the road Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was upbeat about the unveiling.

“Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe, as the construction work on the Kartarpur project enters final stages and will be open to the public on 9th November 2019,” he posted on Facebook. “World’s largest gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world.”

Although the opening of the corridor is unlikely to lead to any kind of bilateral engagement or rapprochement between the two nations, Sikhs will be relieved that it is easier to access the shrine in Kartarpur. 

The community has long sought easier access to Kartarpur, a village just four kilometers over the border in Pakistan, as it used to demand a lengthy visa and travel process.

Pilgrims will get special permits to access the shrine. Up to 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to access the corridor daily.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Indian side of the corridor, but it is unclear if he will cross into Pakistan afterwards.