By Hilal Ahmad Rather
Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood sugar. This, over time, leads to serious damage of various body organs including the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Broadly, diabetes is categorised into three types which are diabetes type 1, diabetes type 2 and gestational diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes is the most common and occurs usually in adults when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to insulin. As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy. In the past few decades, the prevalence of diabetes has risen dramatically in the world. About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes often develops in adults, but children can be affected too.Diabetes is one of the major causes of death worldwide.
According to the World Health Organisation, the total global diabetic population in the year 2000 stood at 170 million which is estimated to spike up to 366 million. India itself is home to 63 million diabetics and the number is estimated to be 100 million by 2030. The estimates depict that diabetes prevalence has doubled and so far has grown by over 100% in the past 15 years. However, patterns of diabetic incidences are related to the geographical distribution in India.There are two categories of population based on the life styles in India, urban population and rural population. Diabetes prevalence in rural populations is one-quarter that of the urban population. The clear cause is the difference of life style due to modernisation. Kashmir valley, which lies in the northern region of the Indian subcontinent, has been undergoing similar changes on account of modernity and sedentary lifestyles. However, the food habit of the inhabitants might be the major cause of the diabetes.
White rice is the staple food of the Kashmiri people; most Kashmiris consume rice twice a day. Although, rice is pleasing to the palate of every Kashmiri, it significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes when eaten regularly. White rice has high glycemic index (GI), which is a number associated with a particular type of food to indicates its effect on the blood sugar level of a person. It indicates how fast a particular food can raise the blood sugar level. Diets with low GI indicates its moderate potential to rise the blood sugar level while the diets with high GI may cause blood sugar level to increase above the optimal level and leads to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Harvard researchers suggest that eating less white rice could make a difference. The researchers show that the more white rice is eaten, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes: they showed that on the regular basis, each plate of white rice eaten in a day raises the risk of diabetes by 11% (assuming 158 grams per plate). Furthermore, people who ate the highest amounts of white rice had 27% higher risk of diabetes than those who ate the least.
White rice contains about 90% carbohydrates, which could be the major cause of type 2 diabetes. However, the methods of cooking plays a major role in the maintaining the carbohydrate level of rice. Traditionally in each household, rice is cooked by boiling it till all the water is steamed out. However, with the advancement in life styles, the method of cooking rice has also seen its turn from the traditional ways to rice cookers. People find it easy because it saves time. All they need to do is put the switch on after putting the measured volume of water and rice. In both the methods, rice is not drained with the water after it is cooked. By this method, the whole starch content remains in the rice. It gets accumulated in the body once it is consumed. Therefore, straining off the extra starch water from rice after being cooked could be the potential solution to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. After cooking the rice in more volume of water than used in the traditional methods, it should be drained with the running water. Hence, this method of cooking helps to remove the starch from the cooked rice and more rice can be consumed compared to rice cooked by traditional ways.
—The author is a Ph.D. Scholar at School of Life Sciences, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar. He can be reached at: Hr7399@gmail.com