Diabetes mellitus is a nutritional disorders, characterized by an abnormally elevatedlevel of bloodglucose and by the excretion of the excess glucose in the urine.
It resultsfrom an absolute orrelative lack of insulin which leads to abnormalities in carbohydratemetabolism as well as in themetabolism of protein and fat.
Diabetesis a disease known to the medical world since time immemorial. Its incidence is, however,much higher at present than ever in the past. This is especially true in caseof more advancedcountries of the world due to widespread affluence and more generous foodsupply. The mostcommonly-used screening tests are the determination of the fasting bloodglucose level andthe two-hour postprandial, that is after a meal. The normal fasting blood sugarcontent is 80 to120 mg. per 100 ml. of blood and this can go up to a level of 180 mg. per 100ml. of blood twohours after meals. Anything above these norms can be termed diabetic levels. Diabetesoccurs in all age groups, from young infants to the elderly. The greatestincidence occurs inmiddle or older aged persons. It is estimated that 80 to 85 per cent of all individuals with diabetes mellitus are 45 years of age or older.
The worddiabetes is derived from the Greek word meaning "to siphon to passthrough", and mellituscomes from the Latin word "honey". Thus two characteristic symptoms,namely, copious urinationand glucose in the urine give the name to the disease. The normal volume of urine passeddaily is about one and a half litres. The urine is of a pale colour, has anacidic reaction andsweetish odour. The quantity of sugar present in it varies from one-and-quarterdecigram to twoand-a-half grams the total per day in many cases reaching as much as one kg in15 litres of
Adiabetic feels hungry and thirsty most of the time, does not put on weight,though he eats every nowand then, and gets tired easily, both physically and mentally. He looks pale,may sufferfrom anaemia, constipation, intense itching around the genital organs,palpitations and
generalweakness. He feels drowsy and has a lower sex urge than a normal person.
Diabeteshas been described by most biological doctors as a "prosperity"disease, primarily caused bysystematic overeating and consequent obesity. Not only the overeating of sugarand refinedcarbohydrate but also of proteins and fats, which are transformed into sugar iftaken in excess,is harmful and may result in diabetes. Too much food taxes the pancreas andeventually paralysesits normal activity. It has been estimated that the incidence of diabetes isfour times higher inpersons of moderate obesity and 30 times higher in persons of severe obesity. Grief,worry and anxiety also have a deep influence on the metabolism and may causesugar to appear inthe urine. The disease may be associated with some other grave organic disorders likecancer, tuberculosis and cerebral disease. Heredity is also a major factor inthe development of thedisease. It has been rightly said, " Heredity is like a cannon and obesitypulls the trigger."
Anysuccessful method of diabetes treatment should aim at removal of the actualcause of the disease and building up of the whole health-level of the patient. Diet plays a vitalrole in such a treatment.The primary dietary consideration for a diabetic patient is that he should be astrict lacto-vegetarianand take a low-calorie, low-fat, alkaline diet of high quality natural foods.Fruits, nuts andvegetables, whole meal bread and dairy products form a good diet for thediabetic. Thesefoods are best eaten in as dry a condition as possible to ensure thoroughsalivation duringthe first part of the process of digestion.
Cookedstarchy foods should be avoided as in the process of cooking the celluloseenvelops of thestarch granules burst and consequently, the starch is far too easily absorbedin the system.
Theexcess absorbed has to be got rid of by the kidneys and appears as sugar in theurine. With rawstarchy foods, however, the saliva and digestive juices in the small intestineregulate the quantitiesrequired to be changed into sugar for the body’s needs. The unused andundigested portionof raw starchy foods does not become injurious to the system, as it does notreadily
Thediabetic should not be afraid to eat fresh fruits and vegetables which containsugar and starch.Fresh fruits contain sugar fructose, which does not need insulin for itsmetabolism and is welltolerated by diabetics. Fats and oils should be taken sparingly, for they areapt to lower the tolerancefor proteins and starches. Emphasis should be on raw foods as they stimulateand
increaseinsulin production. For protein, home- made cottage cheese, various forms ofsoured milks andnuts are best. The patient should avoid overeating and take four or five smallmeals a dayrather than three large ones.
Thefollowing diet should serve as a guideline.
Uponarising : A glass of lukewarm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Breakfast: Any fresh fruit with the exception of bananas, soaked prunes, asmall quantity of wholemeal bread with butter and fresh milk.
Lunch : Steamed or lightly cooked green vegetables such as cauliflower,cabbage, tomatoes, spinach,turnip, asparagus and mushrooms, two or three whole wheat chapatis according to appetiteand a glass of butter-milk or curd.
Mid-afternoon: A glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice.
Dinner: A large bowl of salad made up of all the raw vegetables in season.The salad may be followedby a hot course, if desired, and fresh home-made cottage cheese.
BedtimeSnack : A glass of fresh milk.
Fleshfoods find no place in this regimen, for they increase the toxaemic conditionunderlying the diabeticstate and reduce the sugar tolerance. On the other hand, a non-stimulatingvegetarian diet,especially one made up of raw foods, promotes and increases sugar tolerance.
Celery,cucumbers, string beans, onion and garlic are especiallybeneficial. String beanpod tea is anexcellent natural substitute for insulin and highly beneficial in diabetes. Theskin of the pods ofgreen beans are extremely rich in silica and certain hormone substances which are closely related to insulin. One cup of string bean tea is equal to one unit of insulin. Cucumbers contain ahormone needed by the cells of the pancreas for producing insulin. Onion and garlic have proved beneficial in reducing blood sugar in diabetes.
Recentscientific investigations have established that bitter gourd (karela) is highly beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. It contains an insulin-like principle, known asplant-insulin which has beenfound effective in lowering the blood and urine sugar levels. It should,therefore, be included liberally in the diet of the diabetic.
For better results, the diabetic shouldtake the juice
of about4 or 5 fruits every morning on an empty stomach. The seeds of bitter gourd canbe added tofood in a powdered form. Diabetics can also use bitter gourd in the form ofdecoction byboiling the pieces in water or in the form of dry powder.
Anothereffective home remedy is jambul fruit known as jamun in the vernacular.
It isregarded in traditionalmedicine as a specific against diabetes because of its effect on the pancreas.The fruits assuch, the seeds and fruit juice are all useful in the treatment of thisdisease. The seeds contain aglucoside ‘jamboline’ which is believed to have power to check the pathological conversionof starch into sugar in cases of increased production of glucose. They shouldbe dried andpowdered. This powder should be taken mixed in milk , curd or water.
Thepatient should avoid tea, coffee and cocoa because of their adverse influenceon the digestivetract. Other foods which should be avoided are white bread, white flourproducts, sugar tinnedfruits, sweets, chocolates, pastries, pies, puddings, refined cereals andalcoholic drinks.
The mostimportant nutrient in the treatment of diabetes is manganese which is vital inthe productionof natural insulin. It is found in citrus fruits, in the outer covering ofnuts, grains and in the green leaves ofedible plants. Other nutrients of special value are zinc, B complex vitamins and poly-unsaturatedfatty acids.
Exercise is also animportant factor in the treatment of diabetes. Light games, jogging and swimming arerecommended. Yogic asanas such as bhujangasana, shalabhasana, dhanurasana,paschimottanasana, sarvangasna, halasana, ardha-matsyendrasana and shavasana, yogickrisyas like jalneti and kunajl and pranayamas such as kapalbhati, anuloma-viloma andujjai are highly beneficial.
Hydrotherapy andcolonic irrigations form a very important part of treatment. The colon should be thoroughlycleansed every second day or so, until the bowel discharge assumes normal characteristics.Bathing in cold water greatly increases the circulation and enhances the capacity of the muscles toutilise sugar.
The diabetic patientshould eliminate minor worries from his daily life. He must endeavor to be more easy-going andshould not get unduly worked up by the stress and strain of life.