Birdseed Turned Superfood May Help Curb India’s Diabetes Scourge
Millets are poised for a comeback amid government subsidies
Diabetes may afflict 123.5 million people in India by 2040
Podiatrist Vinaya A.S. has bumped across southern India in a bus-turned mobile clinic for 17 years, going village to village checking feet for the ulcer-causing effects of diabetes. These days, her key to staving off limb amputations comes down to one thing: food.
Millets, to be precise. The ancient grains were a staple in India for thousands of years, but largely spurned since a so-called Green Revolution last century led to cheaper, more abundant supplies of refined rice and wheat flour that can bolster blood-sugar. Now a surge in type-2 diabetes is pushing doctors and government officials to recommend a return to wholegrains, like “ragi” or finger millet, that healthfully sustained previous generations.
“Food is your medicine — you need to eat right,” Vinaya, 48, told a group of villagers in Doddaballapur, on the outskirts of Bangalore, last month. “Bring the fiber-rich ragi back to your plates, along with fruits and vegetables.”
Healthy food choices are becoming critical in India, where diabetes is ripping through the population with deadly consequences. The number of adults living with the disease has risen more than five fold since 1980, though more than half of sufferers aren’t aware they have it. Left uncontrolled, high blood-sugar levels can damage organs and tissues, including the nerves and blood vessels in the feet, making them susceptible to injuries that fail to heal and eventually turn gangrenous. When that happens, amputation Continue reading