Modest changes to daily diet can check Diabetes, finds study

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A recent ICMR-INDIAB (Indian Council of Medical Research-Indian Diabetes) study has shown that by reducing carbohydrate and increasing protein and fat in the daily diet, diabetes progression can be controlled.

The Indian Diabetes Scenario

Currently, the diabetic population stands at 74 million. As many as 80 million are in the pre-diabetic stage. In another 20 years, the diabetic population could reach around 130 million. 

Dietary Habits of the Population, and Recommended Standards

The Indian diet comprises 65-70% carbohydrates, 10% proteins and 20% fats. The carbohydrates could be rice or wheat-based items. The composition of food could be slightly altered to prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes. This could be achieved by maintaining the carbohydrate content at 54%-57%; protein at 16%-20% and fats at 20%-24%. In fact, a 10%-20% reduction in carbohydrate intake can do wonders. 

Thus, even modest changes can reduce the diabetes epidemic, help to slow it down and even prevent it. This can lead to the remission of the condition. 

But, the recommendations would vary based on age, sex, body weight, urban and rural areas and activity levels.

The ‘Plate Concept’ to change the proportions

Take a round plate. Draw a vertical line across the plate. Fill one half with green, leafy vegetables. Draw a horizontal line across the other half and make it two quarters. One is for carbohydrates and the other for proteins, such as chickpea, legume and such. Thus, increasing protein slightly and eating healthy monounsaturated fats such as nuts, fish or natural vegetable oils, will ensure a healthy balanced diet. The rest of the carbohydrates would come from tea, coffee, milk and fruits. This is in contrast to the normal pattern of having more rotis and just a small cup of vegetables. 

The Study

The study aims at deriving macronutrient recommendations for remission and prevention of Type-2 Diabetes in Indians using a data-driven optimization approach.

The study Macronutrient Recommendations for Remission and Prevention of Diabetes in Asian Indians Based on a Data-Driven Optimization Model: The ICMR-INDIAB National Study was recently published in Diabetes Care.

R.M. Anjana, Vice-President of Mohan Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), led the study that is based on the food habits of 18,090 adults across the country. 

The ICMR-INDAB data was used for mathematical modelling, enabling the prediction of remission and prevention of diabetes at the population-level.


Thus, the study recommends reduction in carbohydrates and an increase in protein for both Type-2 Diabetes remission and for prevention of progression to Type-2 Diabetes in Pre-Diabetic and NGT(Normal Glucose Tolerance) groups. The results underline the need for new dietary guidelines that recommend appropriate changes in macronutrient composition for reducing the burden due to diabetes in South Asia.

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