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Dr Mohan's on diabetes mission

Pradipta Mukherjee  |  Kolkata/ Kharagpur 

Dr Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre, a nutrition and research clinic, plans to identify critical food additives to improve the health benefits from certain ready-to-eat foods.
A recent Dr Mohan's study revealed that 70 per cent of snacks and similar fast-moving food items stocked at any grocery or retail outlet today is starch and sugar-rich, leaving consumers pressed for healthy options.
However, introduction of certain food items in the daily diet, before an after a starch and sugar-rich meal, can ensure good health despite intake of carbohydrate-rich food.
According to Sudha Vasudevan, head of foods at Dr Mohan's, addition of pulses, chana and rajma in a carbohydrate-rich diet can help maintain the balance and ensure good health.
In ready-to-eat foods and snack items too, presence of lemon juice can alter the glycemic index (GI) of the foods.
According to Vasudevan, "Intervention studies have shown that a low GI diet may improve impaired glucose tolerance and even dyslipidemia."
"But before anything else, a variety of low GI foods should be available in the Indian market. Many of the habitual food items consumed in India today are likely to have a high GI, such as refined grains like highly polished rice and white flour used in bakery products and thus may cause difficulties in such study designs," Vasudevan pointed out.
"Glycemic index is the only measure which can indicate a healthy diet for prevention and management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. If these principles are considered then GI can be used to stipulate an alternative diet choice without disturbing the nutritional value of the diet," Vasudevan added.
Glycemic carbohydrates include both dietary glycemic index, the quality measure of carbohydrates, and glycemic load (GL).
The GI of the food is defined as the 2-h incremental area under the blood glucose response curve after consumption of a food portion containing a specific amount, usually 50 grams, of available carbohydrates, divided by the corresponding area after consumption of a portion of a reference food such as glucose or white bread containing the same amount of available carbohydrate. It is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage figure.
According to Vasudevan, India leads the world in number of diabetic patients at 40.9 million and this is projected to rise to approximately 69.9 million by 2025.
Like other developing countries in transition, increased life expectancy, urbanisation and changes in lifestyle are some of the important contributors to the rapidly rising prevalence of diabetes among South Asians in general and Asian Indians in particular.
The major diet-related chronic diseases such as type 2-diabetes and cardiovascular diseases share common biological risk factors like obesity, hypertension and dyslipidemia.
Although genetic causes and physical inactivity have been understood to be the causes of the type-2 diabetes in Asian Indians, very little is known about the dietary factors.
However, the applicability of the GI concept is challenged by the shortage of low GI foods in the market and an appropriate Indian GI database.
Indian dietary habits include a large number of carbohydrate-rich food items many of which are likely to fall into 70 per cent GI or high GI category.

First Published: Wed, January 02 2008. 00:00 IST