Let Us Counter Diabetes


Often when I think of diabetes, I picture someone blaming their genetics; with poor muscle tone, lacklustre eyes, dull skin owing to poor blood circulation and with an attitude of complaining and blaming the world for their misery.

However, Kyle Cochran, a type 1 diabetic with complete and irreversible pancreatic damage, helped change that image. At the popular Ninja Warrior show, he was easily the fittest, the best contender for the title and, above all, a picture of heavens-bow-down positivity. Despite his type 1 diabetes, if he could be the poster boy of fitness, what makes the rest of us blame our genes?

Yes, owing to our genetic makeup, Indians are predisposed to diabetes. Globally, we have the highest number of diabetic patients. But did you know that the prevalence of diabetes among Indians living abroad is less than that of Indians living in India, owing to lifestyle conducive to exercise. The age of onset of diabetes in India has reduced with even youngsters showing symptoms now. Within India, Kerala is the diabetes capital, and within Kerala, Ernakulam (Kochi) seems to top the list. While heredity plays a part, the major factors that cause diabetes are sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy food habits and inability to deal with stress. I may even say that let us blame 30 per cent on our parents, but 70 per cent is our responsibility.

So, what can we do to prevent or manage diabetes?

Eat Healthy: Personally I recommend ‘Blue Zone Diet,’ which is very similar to the prescribed yogic diet for longevity. The Blue Zone Diet plate, with its abundance of greens, prevents oxidative stress.

Exercise: If you have diabetes, ensure that you do moderate exercise that does not cause a spike in blood sugar and maintains a steady pace of breathing and heart rate. Include Yogic Breathing involving diaphragm and chest, in a slow regulated manner in all your physical exercises. Go for eye rotations, foot rotations and abdominal twists.

Meditate: In my opinion, feeling stressed is the greatest cause for diabetes. After all, new research on epigenetics suggests that portions of our genetic code get switched on and off based on the chemical compounds in the body environment, and stress makes that environment toxic. Our ability to sit for 15 minutes, observing the breath daily, will reset that environment. Yes, your mind which will wander into a thousand thoughts – which is normal – just comes back to the breath.

Positivity: Develop a positive outlook towards life. According to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, four types of situations and people, one can come across in life. These are the four locks – use the four keys as follows:

  •   Happy people or events (Sukha); develop friendship (Maitri)
  •   Sad people or events (Dukha); develop compassion (Karuna)
  •   Honourable/righteous (Punya) people or events; express joy (Mudita) so that you automatically seek out more such events
  •  Dishonourable/Wicked (Apunya) people or events; be prepared for Upeksha or Disassociation

Above all, always look up and seek excellence, rather than the average. Never settle for anything less, and do so joyfully.

(Nuthan Manohar is the CEO of Me Met Me, that promotes self discovery through Yoga, Food and Fun)