Just over a century ago, surgeon Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best first discovered insulin. In 1921, this breakthrough seemed like it would bring an end to diabetes and blood sugar-related problems. While lives have been saved and lifestyles have improved greatly, thanks to this wonder drug, changes in the environment and lifestyle have actually led to growing instances of the disease.According to a study published by the Indian Journal of Medical Research, there are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes, and this is projected to increase to 313 million women by 2040. Diabetes is the ninth leading direct cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths each year, most of them premature.Says consultant dietician Dharini Krishnan, Type 2 Diabetes is also known as Maturity Onset Diabetes or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes. It normally happens in adults due to a genetic lineage, being overweight, or stress. Today, young children are overweight. For example, a 10-year-old child who should be around 35 kg is 80 kg. In such cases, they develop Type 2 Diabetes at a young age. In women, the main causes are stress, obesity, and lack of exercise, which can trigger this problem, apart from genes. Excess body fat can lead to early diabetes, also known as pre-diabetes. At this stage, if they lose even one per cent of their body weight and change their lifestyle, it is possible to reverse the condition.Taran Singla, Advanced Clinical Nutritionist and Exercise Science Specialist at Chicnutrix says, In recent years, the incidence of diabetes has been on the rise, with Type 2 diabetes being the most common. It is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes glucose, which is the primary source of energy for the bodys cells.He adds that diabetes can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Women who are overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, have a sedentary lifestyle, or have gestational diabetes during pregnancy, are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The symptoms in women are like those in men and include frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, and slow-healing wounds. However, women may experience additional symptoms, such as vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).Sangla says that insulin resistance occurs when the bodys cells become resistant to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Obesity is a major risk factor, as excess body fat can cause insulin resistance. Women with diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. They are also more likely to experience complications during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. This can also affect a womans mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and stress. Women with diabetes may also experience sexual dysfunction, as high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels, leading to decreased sexual function.Diabetes is not a new phenomenon. The word itself was coined in 200 AD by the Greeks to refer to the condition of frequent urination; diabetes means passing through. Even before that, ancient Ayurvedic texts referred to ants and insects being attracted to the urine of people suffering from this disease. It wasnt until around 500 years ago that modern physicians made breakthroughs while testing for glucose in urine and blood.Dharini recommends that after the age of 30, one should get tested every three months if overweight, and every six months otherwise. If a woman is at a normal weight, exercising and eating right, and also managing stress, they can start checking from the age of 40, at least twice a year. If they have a parent or sibling who has got diabetes, then it is better to check from the age of 35 itself.According to a report published by the International Diabetes Federation at the end of 2021, the number of people with diabetes in India is the second highest globally, after China (141 million). A further 40 million adults in India have Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), which places them at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This is the second-highest number in the world. Further, around 53.1 per cent of people living with diabetes in India are undiagnosed, which is over half.Dharini recommends lifestyle changes as the best tools to prevent and treat diabetes. A good diet should have at least 1.5-2 cups of vegetables with each meal. The vegetables can be a variety of beans, gourds, or English vegetables. Lots of green, leafy vegetables and local produce, such as banana stem and banana flowers, can also be included. Roots and tubers can be reduced. Vegetables can be dry vegetables, gravies, salads, or homemade soups without thickeners. You should eat protein-rich foods with at least two meals a day, if not with everyone. These can be lentils, boiled whole pulses, or mushrooms in a vegetarian diet, and eggs, chicken or fish in a non-vegetarian diet. At least 10 minutes of de-stressing in the form of yoga, breathing or meditation goes a long way. Forty minutes of exercise every day is a must either by walking or cardio or resistance exercises.If one is a frank diabetic on oral hypoglycaemic drugs, lifestyle changes with the right diet can still help manage and control the disease, at least in its early years. Move to lower carbohydrates, and increase your protein and vegetable intake. If the disease has been there for a decade or more, and the type of medications are combination drugs after each meal, it would be easier to control it than go into remission. If you are on insulin, lifestyle and diet can help prevent complications from diabetes. Once a person is diabetic, they must manage the disease with medications, exercise, diet, and de-stressing. They are like the four legs of a table or chair. Each of them is important. Once you maintain your sugar fasting, PP, and the three-month average within limits, you can postpone the onset of the complications of the disease.Says Taran, Women who have a family history of diabetes should undergo regular screening to detect early signs of the condition. Treatment involves managing blood sugar levels through medication, lifestyle changes, and regular monitoring. Women with diabetes should also undergo regular check-ups to monitor their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and kidney function.Awareness and discipline are the two tools that go a long way in preventing or managing diabetes. Even if youve been diagnosed with this debilitating disease, medical advancements have ensured that with regular screenings and medication, you can control and treat it to a large extent. Dont take your body for granted and sugar cant get the better of you.