9 Questions Answered
So what does Ayurveda have to offer for treating the lifestyle nightmare that Diabetes has come to be?
We asked some experts from Sri Sri Ayurveda all the questions where answers would be helpful, about Diabetes among children; and also does Ayurveda have any healthy alternative to calm sugar cravings?!
Too much sugar or glucose in the blood causes diabetes. Energy is stored in the body in the form of glucose. When glucose is not absorbed well in the blood, diabetes is caused. Insulin secreted by the pancreas is critical in absorbing this glucose in the body.
1) What are some common symptoms of Diabetes Type 2 in children?
Thirst, more hunger, itching, urination, dryness in the body are some of the most common symptoms. But with children diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1, it can be symptom-less. These symptoms do appear in Diabetes type 2.
2)What are the common lifestyle mistakes that lead to the disease?
It is widely known that erroneous lifestyle is the most common cause followed by hereditary and medical reasons leading to Diabetes. Wrong eating habits over prolonged periods of time can damage pancreatic function.
An important point to consider is the time of day we eat and how often do we eat. Today, snacking is very common. But for those who do not have Diabetes yet and wish to keep it at bay, Ayurveda recommends Dwikal Bhojanam – two main meals a day. And other times, it is recommended to have something light like buttermilk or tender coconut water. When we eat too many times, the body secrets a lot more insulin and then there is insulin resistance. Our bodies cannot utilize it properly. Irregularity in eating is another factor. Third mistake is junk food. Lack of activity and stress contribute equally in poor regulation of insulin in the body.
3) How does stress add to the ailment? How can it be reduced?
We are told that stress worsens Diabetes but we are not taught to deal with stress. In the Art of Living’s program for children, kids are taught Yoga, meditation and other powerful meditative and interactive processes. So this enables them to cope with stress and it is also healing. The healing effects of these practices are well documented now. In the holistic Ayurvedic approach, we also have medicines like Mehantak Vati and Nisha Malaki (a combination of turmeric and gooseberries-both antioxidants). Attuning sleeping hours according to the child’s body clock is also important. Our body has an in-built clock. So when we fall into that clock, like rising early, sleeping early and sleeping in a regulated time- all this helps prevent diabetes.
4) What kind of food habits would you suggest to keep diabetes at bay?
You can have bitter gourd and Indian blackberry juice also. Both, bitter gourd and Indian blackberries can regulate sugar. For children, who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, their diet requires special attention.
Avoid sugar. Avoid foods that have high glycemic index, basically a diet which has normal good carbohydrates and proteins and lot of greens. Ayurveda allows fruits also. And lot of vegetables, nuts and seeds. Also, they cannot stick to the two-meals-a-day rule. They have to eat three to four times according to their type of diabetes and their body type also.
5) Allowing all fruits and vegetables in the diet is quite unlike dietary prescriptions found in other schools of medicine.
Usually, Ayurveda allows all veggies and fruits. There are certain fruits which are really good for diabetes like berries and pomegranates. The diabetic diet is not a simple one. There are certain fruits that can immediately cause an insulin spike but in the long term they do no harm. So for example, Ayurveda allows one apple a day. Even fruits like mangoes and bananas that have high glycemic index are recommended in limited quantities. What doctors have seen is, if there are lot of restrictions on food that adds to the stress. So you don’t have to avoid anything, but you keep it to very limited quantities.
6) So how do we dowse the sugar craving in children?
You can make desserts with a fruit base, i.e. date-based or fig-based. But that too should be consumed within limits. Also, Ayurveda allows honey for diabetic patients because honey doesn’t do any harm, and actually does much good.
7) How does Ayurveda treat diabetes?
Experts believe that Ayurveda can help regulate type 1 diabetes among children through a multidimensional approach. Amla or gooseberries is one medicine that triggers insulin secretion. It stimulates pancreatic secretion. It is one of the main medicines Ayurveda uses. Ayurvedic treatments have a multi-dimensional approach, regulating the diet, monitoring sugar, and supporting the digestive system (or Agni/ fire element). In diabetic patients the Agni (fire) aspect is imbalanced. Herbs that can help with glucose metabolism are burberries and haldi (turmeric).
Ayurveda also recommends elaborate Panchkarma treatment for diabetes. When we do panchakarma treatment periodically, the body detoxes to an amazing degree. Once the body detoxes, all the body’s internal mechanisms fall into place. Vasti treatment is done which plays a major role in maintenance of sugar. Also, there are certain types of massages to regulate cellular metabolism. Also Shirodhara treatment helps for dealing with stress.
8) Can insulin dosage be reduced with the help of Ayurveda?
It has been seen again and again, that with the help of herbs, Panchakarma treatments, diet and yoga protocol, we can not only reduce, sometime we can take the patient off insulin also. But it needs continuous monitoring and much effort from the side of the patient.
9) End notes
According to Ayurveda, there are three kinds of diabetes based on the three kinds of body constitutions – vata-dominant, pitta-dominant and kapha-dominant diabetes. What is alarming, is noticing the trend where more and more children who are coming to our Ayurveda centers are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes which is a lifestyle-driven disorder. Some years ago, children who came with diabetes were only juvenile diabetes patients. But now more children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It is alarming to note that children are increasingly stressed also.
Picture Credit: Viktor Forgacs