Diabetes And Heart Health: Are They Associated?

Diabetes is a growing syndrome in the world. India is home to the second-largest diabetes population. According to a study by the International Diabetes Federation, India has the second-highest number of people with diabetes in the world, with an estimated 77.2 million people living with the disease in 2019. The study also found that the number of people with diabetes in India is projected to increase to 134.3 million by 2045. Additionally, about 57% of these individuals remain undiagnosed (ICMR-INDIAB, 2022). 

These staggering statistics serve as a wake-up call for us to take action and prioritize our health. It’s time to raise awareness about diabetes and take control of our well-being

Dealing with diabetes can be a challenging journey, but it’s important to remember that managing your blood sugar levels can, not only help your body cope with the condition but can also be a powerful tool in preventing other health issues, such as heart diseases.

Yes, you read that right. 

There is an interesting relationship between diabetes and heart disease.

What is Diabetes and What are its Symptoms?

Type 2 Diabetes is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses glucose. This chronic condition can lead to too much glucose/sugar in the bloodstream. Diabetes can be caused by two interrelated problems, where the body is unable to produce a hormone, insulin, that regulates blood sugar movement into the cell or the cells do not respond to available insulin and do not take in blood sugar for utilization.  

Eventually, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to circulatory, nervous, kidneys and immune system-related complications.. Let’s take a look at how there is a strong correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular health.

According to the CDC, here are some common diabetes symptoms you need to watch out for

  • Urinating a lot, often at night (Polyuria)
  • Frequently thirsty (Polydipsia)
  • Frequent feeling of hunger (Polyphagia)
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Experiencing numbing or tingling of hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired
  • Having very dry skin
  • Having sores that heal slowly
  • Suffering more infections than usual

How Diabetes Affects Your Heart

Those who have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease at an early age. When compared to non-diabetics, adult diabetics pose approximately double the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. (Source)

Heart disease may occur because over time high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. Blood flows through the arteries with more force when you have high blood pressure, which can damage the arterial walls. Your risk of heart disease might significantly increase if you have both high blood pressure and diabetes.

The good news is that taking small healthy steps and managing your diabetes can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease or stroke!
Know more about how sugar affects your heart health.

How To Manage Diabetes

The question, “how to control sugar” has definitely crossed your mind. Yes, some people are prescribed medication to control diabetes, however, along with doctor’s instructions making simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping you manage  diabetes.

Here are some suggested lifestyle modifications: 

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight

According to a study, people with a high BMI, who lost around 7% of their body weight through dietary and physical activity improvements had a nearly 60% reduction in their chance of getting diabetes. To manage disease progression, the American Diabetes Association advises prediabetic individuals to lose between 7% and 10% of their body weight if they have a higher BMI. Indians have a higher body fat percentage genetically, and a healthy BMI of 18-22.9 should be maintained for better overall and heart health. 

  • Get More Active

According to the World Health Organization (2020), adults aged 18-64 years should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity; or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity. Regular physical activity can increase the body’s ability to use insulin and lower glucose levels, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, exercise can improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and promoting healthy weight.

  • Eat Healthier

Consuming a balanced diet   is helpful in managing both diabetes and heart health. Consume more whole grains (about half the total cereals), good quality protein, and fresh produce. If you are a diabetic, avoiding sugary drinks, refined carbohydrates, sweets and snacks will help you maintain your blood sugar levels. Drink more water and steer clear of alcohol. A healthy diet to manage your diabetes will also help you on your journey to strengthen your heart health.

Here are 4 Foods to Eat to Manage Diabetes

  • Nuts

Snack on items rich in protein and healthy fats, such as nuts, to avoid evening refined carbohydrates cravings and keep you feeling fuller until dinner. Nuts also contain polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), and phytosterols which have been linked to decreasing the progression of type 2 diabetes. You can also opt for a blended oil (multi-sourced) like Saffola Gold which has a good balance of MUFAs and PUFAs to help keep your heart healthy.

  • Oats

In a one-cup serving (250 gms) of oatmeal, there are about 3 grams of soluble fibre. Enjoying a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast will keep you fuller for a long time. According to a study, individuals who consume sufficient fibre—more than 26 grams per day—have an 18% reduced risk of getting type 2 diabetes than those who consume less than 19 grams daily. Fibre helps in maintaining stable blood sugar levels, which may reduce your chance of diabetes.

  • Protein

Protein can help manage diabetes by helping to regulate blood sugar levels and slowing down blood sugar rise post-consumption. High-protein foods can also increase feelings of fullness, which can help manage weight and improve insulin sensitivity. It’s important to note that some high-protein non-veg foods can also be high in saturated fat, so it’s important to choose lean protein sources and limit processed meats, such as sausages and bacon. 

  • High-Fibre Fruits

Eating fruit regularly can provide a richness of vitamins and minerals in your diet. You should concentrate on fruits that are high in fibre, such as apples (with the peel), berries, and citrus fruits, as a diet high in fibre has been shown to lower the risk of diabetes and lower blood pressure.

  • Green Vegetables

All veggies should be a part of your diet, but when it comes to reducing the risk of diabetes, it’s crucial to concentrate on green and non-starchy vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli, and green leafy vegetables like spinach, and fenugreek give you the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly.
In addition to having a high fibre content,cruciferous vegetables also include anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of diabetes-related blood vessel damage and aid in blood sugar regulation.

We’ve now understood the
relationship between diabetes and heart disease and know that managing diabetes is a key part of maintaining a healthy heart. We hope that this article has given you some new and useful information that you can use to keep your heart healthy!

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