For the next few weeks, I am putting passages from our fantastic book "Go Back to Brown" here on this blog. If you are interested in the book, which explains some simply ways on how to make Indian food healthier, click on this link to Amazon. It is available in both the Kindle e-book format and paperback.
Among the general US population, 7 out of every 10 deaths annually are from chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Together heart disease, cancer, and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths. These chronic diseases accounted for more than 50% of all deaths in India as well.
Of the major chronic diseases, Indians are especially vulnerable to heart disease and diabetes.
Because of a genetic tendency and changes to our diet and lifestyle, Indians have some of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD, also what is often referred to as “heart disease”), and obesity compared to all other ethnicities in the United States.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (what we simply will call "diabetes") affects about 350 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
India has both the second-largest number of people with diabetes in the world. Of all racial/ethnic groups in the States, Indians have the highest diagnosed type 2 diabetes rate at almost 18%.
When blood sugar levels remain chronically elevated over months to years, our bodies respond by trying to keep insulin levels high to help bring sugar levels down to a normal level. Constantly high insulin levels desensitize cells to insulin’s effect, resulting in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the mechanism that leads to type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes occurs either when the body no longer produces enough insulin or when the body’s cells are no longer responsive to this hormone. When we eat and absorb carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, starches), our blood sugar (plasma glucose levels) goes up.
Insulin encourages cells to remove glucose from the blood for use immediately as energy or to store it for later use. If insulin cannot communicate this signal to cells effectively or if there is not enough insulin produced (as in type 1 diabetes), glucose will build up in the blood and eventually lead to complications such as damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. The debilitating effect of diabetes on the heart is especially concerning considering up to half of diabetics will die of cardiovascular disease.