Diabetes With Delight, by Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-DOC, New Delhi, is a comprehensive guide to diabetes management, especially for Indian patients.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the pancreas is not able to produce insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. The number of people with diabetes globally rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, according to WHO. In 2015, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. It is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.

Dr Misra terms diabetes an “opportunistic killer", as it occurs due to “opportunities" provided by patients in the form of bad lifestyle choices, like lack of physical activity.

The book explains how diabetes can affect mental, emotional and physical well-being and lists simple steps to prevent as well as manage diabetes effectively. The national guidelines that have been formulated for obesity, exercise and diabetes form the core of this book, in addition to inputs from clinicians and nutritionists.

The book’s most important contribution, perhaps, will be to demystify a much feared chronic ailment, enabling people with diabetes as well as general readers to adopt preventive measures for it as well as related non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, high cholesterol and cardiac ailments.

Dr Misra addresses long-standing myths in a simple and engaging manner.

One of these is that diabetics cannot eat chocolates and sweets. Dr Misra explains that a very small portion of such sweets can be included in the diet in conjunction with exercise.

Another common myth is that home remedies, such as eating bitter gourd, bottle gourd, cinnamon and jamun (black plum), can replace medicines. The fact, he says, is that although many Indian home remedies help in managing blood sugar levels, they cannot replace proper medication and lifestyle modifications.

For instance, Dr Misra explains, the metabolism slows down with age, the biggest change occurring between 40-50 years, when people tend to gain weight. This is the time when one should be careful and make changes in diet and lifestyle. A healthy diet (the book lists some healthy recipes), regular physical activity, normal body weight and staying away from tobacco can help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

In a section devoted to common oil myths, the author explains how labels like “low fat", “reduced fat" or “zero cholesterol" can often be misleading. A reduced-fat snack should contain less fat than the full-fat version, but that doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. It could still contain much more fat than a portion of fruit. Low-fat foods also contain high levels of sugar. Similarly, so called “zero cholesterol" oils may contain harmful fatty acids.

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