We need to sit up and consider the serious damage diabetes can cause to every single vital organ of the body – heart, kidney, brain, eyes, nerves, feet and so on.
The social and economic implications are devastating, and unless we consider changing the way we regard food and eating, we are confronting a dismal future.
So let’s think about the steps each of us can take to change this scenario.
Here’s one simple suggestion: Add some Nuts to your diet. Now don’t laugh and say that this will only make matters worse. You are wrong. In fact, eating a handful of nuts instead of biscuits will benefit you in more ways than you could imagine.
Research shows that almost every kind of nut has health-boosting properties that can be taken advantage of.
Almonds, walnuts and pistachios are loaded with vitamins, anti-oxidants and fats of the unsaturated, health promoting variety that can help regulate the cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
Contrary to the popular belief that they are fattening, nuts can in fact help dieters lose weight!
In fact, nuts represent a perfect cultural remedy to a health problem one-third of Indian adults are grappling with – the ‘metabolic syndrome’.
Caused by an imbalance of the body’s biochemical processes, this leads to obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressures and cholesterol – all increasing a person’s pre-disposition to diabetes and heart disease.
And guess what? Nuts can help counter this. In fact, we have the first study of its kind in South Asia to prove the positive impact of eating pistachios on the metabolic syndrome.
Slated for publication in the US journal Nutrition, this study by the National Diabetes Obesity and Cholesterol foundation shows that supplementing the diet with a measured number of pistachios can bring down cholesterol and blood sugar levels, impact on the inflammatory process of the body positively, and even counter the oxidative stress undergone by our cells.
“Adding pistachios has important health benefits and can decrease the incidence and prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease in Asian Indians who are markedly prone to develop these problems,” says Dr Anoop Misra, principal investigator of the study.
One of the huge benefits of many kinds of nuts is their “anti-oxidative” value. What this means is that nuts can help counter the damage caused by a process undergone by all our bodies, called “oxidative stress”, which speeds up the ageing process.
Our bodies produce antioxidants to counter the damage caused by oxidative stress and one way of helping this process is to increase your dietary intake of anti-oxidants.
Here are the rules of nut consumption: Don’t soak and peel almonds the way your grandmothers used to. Almond skins have nutritive benefits and shouldn’t be discarded. Soaking nuts overnight doesn’t make them more digestible either, so eat them dry and whole.
When it comes to salted pistachios, you can simply soak the nuts for 10 minutes before consumption to wash the salt away. You should mix your nuts and eat about a handful a day.
But don’t let their size fool you. These tiny foods are dense with nutrients and a small amount goes a long way. For the maximum benefit, you need to replace 20 per cent of your daily calories with nuts, which amounts to an ounce.
“You need about 49 kernels of pistachios,” says Dr Seema Gulati, lead researcher of the study.