‘Almost Diabetic’ Due to COVID? Here Are Tips for Taking Control
Covid is known for wreaking havoc to the respiratory system, but it is also causing a spike in diabetes numbers.
Almost diabetic – Yes, this is a condition. And it is becoming an epidemic. All thanks to coronavirus.
Covid is best known for wreaking havoc in the lungs and causing acute respiratory distress, but it is also causing a spike in diabetes numbers.
A study published in Canada found out that nearly 15 percent of Covid patients develop diabetes. Another study done in Harvard found that nearly half of those suffering from coronavirus became hyperglycemic.
This infection affects people in very different ways, and it is increasingly becoming clear that pancreas, too, is a target of the virus. When the Covid virus attacks the pancreatic beta cells, insulin production decreases, which can lead to type 1 diabetes.
In addition, the use of steroids for treatment of coronavirus, the inactivity and stress associated with illness have also have led to a spike in the blood sugar levels in people on the borderline or those with genetic propensity towards diabetes, and in fact even in otherwise healthy people.
This sugar spike needs to be corrected promptly with a structured regimen to combat the situation with a proper diet and exercise, and medication, if needed.
Immediate action to avoid high blood sugar and also to prevent the damage this may cause to body organs like kidney, eyes etc is very important.
If left unchecked, it doesn’t take long for a pre-diabetic (a person whose blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes) to become a full-blown diabetic.
- Early Detection Is Important
Unfortunately, it usually goes unrecognized as most often there are no symptoms at all with pre-diabetes. Which is why checking blood sugar regularly should be part of the protocol for everyone suffering from coronavirus, specially those who are getting treated with steroids.
Keeping a check on blood sugar levels, almost on a daily basis is important.
- Lifestyle Management Is The Key
It is important to maintain a normal BMI (basal metabolic index; that translates into right weight for their height) as excess weight is an additional risk factor for diabetes.
Focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Losing excess weight and maintaining a healthy body weight helps insulin work better in the body.
- The Diet Must Be Modified
More fibre and protein, less fat, cutting down red meat, having more vegetables and fruits, opting for whole grains, and keeping alcohol in check).
Cutting down carbohydrate intake drastically for some time can help reign in the sugar numbers better.
- Have 3 Main Meals With 2 Snacks In Between
Keep your portions small.
Handy tip - cereals and protein – the size of your palm, 1 medium size egg, 2 chapatis.
Fill up the rest of the plate with vegetables and green leafy salad.
- Choose The Right Grains
Swap your white refined grains for whole grains (complex carbohydrates), the gold mines of nutrient and fibre (whole wheat, dalia, jowar, ragi, bajra, unpolished rice).
They break down more slowly to release glucose in blood and the presence of fibre in complex carbohydrate like grains, vegetables slows the glucose absorption.
- Choose Your Oils Carefully
Swap your dalda and butter for olive oil and vegetable oils (canola, sunflower).
These oils are a good source of the good monounsaturated fats.
- Control Your Numbers
Lower blood pressure and LDL ("bad") cholesterol and boost HDL ("good") cholesterol.
- Keep Up With The Exercise Routine
Moderate exercise, such as walking for at least 30 minutes at least thrice a week, even in three 10 minute bursts helps.
Gardening, walking the dog, doing chores around the house—anything that's not sitting on the couch benefits your body by stimulating heart rate and circulation.
This helps the pancreas and the body recover faster.
- Stress Control Is The Key
Due to stress, anxiety, depression, precipitation of new onset of diabetes is very common.
So, consciously try to reduce your stress levels.
Stress is a major cause of many diseases, including diabetes.
So learn to relax for some time each day. Keep some ‘me time’ out where you can listen to music, meditate or read.
Yoga and tai-chi classes also help. Make an effort to stay happy. A positive, relaxed attitude goes a long way towards keeping diabetes at bay.
Pre-diabetes is nothing but a wakeup call – one that needs to be caught in time and then rectified on a war footing. Luckily, it is reversible.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)
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