Understanding the relationship between diabetes and gut health
It is a known fact that poorly controlled diabetes can affect various parts of the body. But not many people know that this lifestyle-related disease can impact gut health as well! Dr Roy Patankar, Director and Gastroenterologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, says: “Diabetes can also give your gut a hard time. People with diabetes have symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, intestinal gas and loose stools. These symptoms can reduce the quality of life.
Primarily, diabetes leads to gastroparesis, a digestive disease in which food stays in the stomach for too long. “High blood sugar causes changes in the vagus nerve, which connects the brainstem to the gastrointestinal tract. As such, the vagus nerve is unable to induce the stomach muscles to empty the stomach, ”says Dr. Patankar.
In addition, unmanaged diabetes leads to diabetic autonomic neuropathy. It involves dysfunction of the peripheral nerves, affecting many parts of the body and causing severe gastrointestinal symptoms. “People with celiac disease tend to develop diabetes. In addition, when glucose levels tend to rise in the bloodstream, glucose is deposited on the nerves. This turns into syrup which poisons the inside of these cells, causing the nerves to die. Damage to the nerves in your gut can lead to serious complications like kidney dysfunction and retinopathy, or damage to the eyes, ”says Dr Patankar. Also note that damage from inflammation can hamper the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin, a condition known as pancreatitis, thus causing diabetes.
Dr Patankar lists some essential tips that diabetics should follow to take care of their gut.
• Check your blood sugar: check your blood sugar regularly. You can use a glucometer as recommended by the doctor.
• Eat a well-balanced diet: adopt healthy eating habits, including all the essential nutrients in your diet. Eating a diet high in refined sugar will spoil the gut bacteria. Stay away from foods that contain saturated fat and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice, as well as processed sweets and snacks. Eat foods high in fiber like berries, whole grains, beans, broccoli. Eat smaller meals throughout the day and control your portions.
• Change of habits: It is not advisable to hit the bag immediately after your meal. Sitting, standing, or walking after eating will prevent stomach acid from flowing back up to your throat if you have an acid problem. If you experience gastrointestinal discomfort, see a doctor urgently.
• Exercise daily: this will be beneficial in improving general well-being. You can choose from a wide range of activities like swimming, cycling, jogging, weight training or running. Remember to consult with a fitness expert before starting any exercise program.
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