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Water, fasting useful for preventing diabetes

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Water, fasting useful for preventing diabetes


Thousands of people world over are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes - a common condition that doctors say, is a gateway to other costly health problems. Nonetheless, experts now have evidence suggesting that fasting and high intake of water are some other weapons
that offer benefit in the fight against diabetes, reports Sade Oguntola.

Would you fast one day a month for your health? Abstaining from food at regular intervals as dictated by several religious groups, experts have identified as helpful in maintaining good health.  The benefits of fasting are too many to be counted. For instance, scientists found that periodic fasting may decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, and also causes significant changes in heart-disease risk factors like cholesterol, blood-sugar, and triglyceride levels.

One of the greatest threats to world health today is the pandemic of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition that occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body for it to function properly, or when the body’s cells do not use insulin properly. With rising numbers affected by the condition, the incidence of serious complications is also on the rise. These include cardiovascular disease (CVD) and foot problems such as gangrene. Diabetes is also a leading cause of blindness in people.

Unfortunately, people from lower socio-economic groups are also at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and are three and a half times more likely to experience ill-health as a result of diabetes than those in more affluent groups. Being overweight or obese is the single biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes; others include having a large waist circumference, a sedentary lifestyle, a family history of type 2 diabetes, and being older than 40.

Type 2 diabetes is affecting more and more people every year, and the risk of developing it is higher amongst certain groups, but there are things we can do to prevent it, like taking regular exercise, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight - small steps that could make a big difference in the long run.

The health benefits of fasting are not a chance finding.  Fortunately, in the first study on fasting and heart disease, the researchers surveyed people in Salt Lake City, where a majority of citizens are Mormons and fast once a month for 24 hours. They discovered that the people who abstain from food and drink, for an extended time had a lower rate of coronary disease and diabetes.

In another study, scientists monitored 230 people who fasted for 24 hours. Physical measurements and blood tests indicate that fasting decreased the subjects’ triglycerides and blood sugar levels. In addition, they found that human growth hormone, which is associated with metabolic balance, increased by upwards of 2,000 per cent. Both bad cholesterol (LDL-C) and good cholesterol (HDL-C) increased as well.

Fasting (or at least cutting calories) has also been found to tell the body to burn fat, lower blood sugar and systolic blood pressure. In fact, Islamic scholars believe that fasting would be an ideal recommendation for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity and essential hypertension.

No doubt, many things like fasting and intake of plenty water can help to ensure a lower blood sugar level. According to Dr Williams Balogun, a diabetes expert at University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State,”water can help with high blood sugar level because at least 60 to 70 per cent of the body is composed of water. When there is high level of sugar in the body, it is advisable for the person with this condition at that period to drink plenty of water for the simple reason that it will dilute the concentration of the high blood sugar.”

He declared,” the body gets dehydrated because the sugar soaks away the body water. So, it is in that sense that it is advisable to drink plenty of water because it is helpful. However, there are other things that must be done to bring down a high blood sugar level. This includes like cutting down on food intake, sometimes it might be necessary to be on blood sugar reduction medications.”

Can drinking about four or more eight-ounce glasses of water a day protect against the development of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)? Well, “intake of water is healthy, especially in a tropical environment. In a sense because it is healthy, it may be helpful in preventing many diseases, not just diabetes,” declared Dr Balogun.

But “merely drinking water and not taking care of other predisposing factors to diabetes is not helpful in preventing diabetes,” he stated. “In preventing diabetes, aside drinking plenty of water, it is important to exercise, eat healthy, take plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as avoid living a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, it is important to keep a watch on one’s blood pressure and cholesterol level because all these things affect each other.”

Nevertheless, periodic fasting can cause significant changes in heart-disease risk factors like cholesterol, blood-sugar, and triglyceride levels. According to Dr Balogun, a member of Strategies for Improving Diabetes Care in Nigeria (SIDCAIN), “if you take someone who fast on a regular basis and someone who does not, if both of them have being genetically programmed to develop diabetes, it is likely that the person that do not fast may develop diabetes earlier than the other person. “

“Do not forget that when we say someone has diabetes or a high sugar level in the body, it means that whenever such a person eats, the food is not properly dealt with as it should because the hormone that is responsible for dealing with the food is in short supply.

‘So if somebody is not eating much because of fasting, there is less stress on the pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin hormone. So in that sense, a person that fast on a regular basis is less likely to have diabetes.

“But it is all part of what we are saying that every individual should eat healthy. Part of eating healthy involves eating adequate quantity of food that the body needs unlike the practice in some of our cultures in  when people become glutonous on seeing free food. They lose control and just eat and eat. All these practices are not healthy.“ - Nigerian news, health & beauty news, naija, Nigeria, West Africa

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Updated 7 Years ago

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