According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India had 69.2 million people living with Type 2 diabetes in 2015, a number that will likely grow to more than 98 million by the year 2030. Those with diabetes are also “first in line” for other health challenges like strokes, often known as, “brain attacks.” Unfortunately, these strokes have become one of the leading causes of death and disability in India.*
Although the genes you inherit may influence the development of Type 2 diabetes, they take a back seat to behavioral and lifestyle factors, many of which are causing the increase in diabetes throughout India.
Understanding this health challenge is transforming the work of the Ultimate Mission workers in India. The Ultimate Mission team, based in Portland, Oregon, provides support and training for these workers, each of whom is the wife of a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. According to director Jim Reynolds, these women are being trained on how to teach the four key lifestyle changes that will reduce the chance of contracting Type 2 diabetes. This training, in conjunction with education on how to respond effectively in the first hours after a person suffers a stroke, is improving health in hundreds of rural villages.
Here are the four key lifestyle factors for reducing your chance of contracting Type 2 diabetes - and also reducing the possibility of a “brain attack.”
1. Control your weight
Being overweight increases the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes sevenfold. Losing weight can help if it is above the healthy-weight range. Losing seven to 10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes in half.
2. Get moving and turn off the television
Inactivity promotes Type 2 diabetes. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. This puts less stress on your insulin-making cells. Walking briskly for a half hour every day reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 30 percent, according to a study.
3. Tune up your diet
Choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates. Eating unprocessed brown rice rather than white rice is a significantly healthier choice.
Skip the sugary drinks, and choose water, tea, or even coffee, instead!
Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; choose nuts, whole grains, poultry, or fish instead.
4. If you smoke, try to quit
Smokers are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk.
*India Today, November 22, 2018, quoting studies from WHO and Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.