Diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body turns food into energy and is caused when blood sugar levels are high. The body’s inability to make enough insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, causes an imbalance of sugar levels in the blood. This disbalance in insulin levels affects the body negatively and can be a cause of other diseases. According to the International Diabetics Federation, approximately 537 million adults live with diabetes, and this number is projected to increase to 643 million by 2030.
High blood sugar levels are associated with cardiovascular problems such as narrowing of the blood vessels which leads to inadequate oxygen supply thereby disrupting blood pressure levels. High blood pressure ultimately causes the heart to weaken and increases the risk of developing heart diseases. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people who suffer from diabetes.
Other complications like the inability of the urinary tract to filter waste out of the body can cause kidney failure due to damaged blood vessels. Eye problems like glaucoma and cataract are also long-term complications of diabetes. Life-threatening complications like Diabetic Ketoacidosis occur when the body is unable to utilise glucose for energy and starts breaking down fat. A high level of ketones in the blood can be fatal.
Depending upon the cause, diabetes is mainly of 3 types- Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is most common and can be developed at any age. Middle-aged people are more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. Besides having a family history of diabetes, being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk. It is estimated that more than 95 per cent of people who suffer from diabetes have type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes management requires keeping risk factors under control. This mainly includes lifestyle and food changes. Keeping blood glucose levels in check by taking timely medicines, maintaining blood cholesterol levels, and ensuring blood pressure levels are in the normal range.
Medicines like insulin can help the body to lower the levels of blood sugar. The effectiveness of the medication is dependent on the time and dosage. Newer drugs such as SGLT2is, (DPP)-4is, and GLP-1 RAs have been developed in response to the need to explore new therapeutic options
Oral semaglutide: a life-changing innovation in diabetes care
Along with lifestyle changes, our growing Type 2 diabetes management population needs to be managed with a drug that is safe, convenient, and effective. Moreover, since most patients present with other coexisting conditions such as obesity, an agent which targets multiple problems is ideal. In this regard, the latest innovation i.e., oral semaglutide ticks most of the boxes for an agent which has the potential to truly alter the paradigm for Type 2 diabetes management in India.
In comparative studies, it decreased blood glucose and weight to a greater extent than DPP-4 inhibitors (sitagliptin), SGLT-2 inhibitors (empagliflozin), and other GLP-1 RAs (liraglutide), thereby addressing the dual challenges of type 2 diabetes management and obesity while lowering the overall risk of consequences.
Oral Semaglutide is the outcome of over 15 years of research and has gone through multiple PIONEER trials before becoming available for use in type 2 diabetes treatment. Peptides degrade when they encounter digestive enzymes. The oral semaglutide in pill form has been formulated by using the innovation of an absorption enhancer called SNAC, which helps to prevent it from degrading in the stomach. Peptides were only administered through injectables, but many patients prefer oral medications and the oral form of the GLP 1 is the best option for such people.
Moreover, oral semaglutide is effective both as a single agent as well as in combination with other added drugs for adverse disease management. They are also safe for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Facilitating lifestyle changes
Food is another important factor that contributes to the dip and increase in blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates present in the food have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels and can be kept in check by meal planning and portion control. Carbs are converted into glucose and the level of glucose in the blood needs to be maintained. Overly sweetened food should be avoided as it can disrupt blood sugar levels.
Lifestyle changes like exercising daily for about 30-45mins (150min/week) and simply being active can be beneficial. Additionally, people living with obesity and those who are overweight can benefit from weight loss. With stress, blood sugar levels shoot up, and hence managing stress levels significantly helps in keeping the blood sugar levels in check.
Dehydration impacts the level of blood sugar and hence staying hydrated should be a priority. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables that is low in sugar levels and fats and high in fiber and nutrients is recommended. Eating lean protein and consuming non-fat dairy while consuming carbs mindfully is helpful for glycaemic control.
Lifestyle changes are beneficial in controlling diabetes, but proper consultation and treatment are also an essential part of diabetes management. Better outcomes can be achieved by combining individualized treatment with lifestyle changes. It is essential to seek professional help to keep the blood sugar levels in check. The more you understand the elements that affect your blood sugar level, the better you’ll be able to predict variations and plan accordingly.
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