‘Children now are a lot more prone to diabetes’
by Disha Roy Choudhury: Diabetologist Dr Siddharth Bindroo from Srinagar says Covid is here to stay for long, through its variants. With their immunity already compromised, diabetics, therefore, need to be extra cautious to prevent contracting the virus.
In an interview, the alumnus of Apeejay School, Saket, shares how our lifestyle habits are increasing our chances of developing diabetes.
What are your best memories from Apeejay School, Saket?
My school days were the best phase of my life. I was a young boy from Srinagar who could not speak English properly. I was very under-confident.
When I came to Apeejay School, Saket, it became like my family. My teacher asked me to read the news one day during the assembly and I did it well. The school recognised my potential and encouraged me constantly.
From being a boy with poor English-speaking skills, by the time I completed school in 1999, I went on to represent my school and my state nationally in poetry and debate and won many competitions. The school taught me to be myself unabashedly and showed me what I was capable of.
I am still in touch with a lot of classmates from school. Whenever I come to Delhi, I meet them. I am a family doctor for some of my teachers also.
Why did you choose to become a diabetologist?
Some of my family members were diabetic, who faced a lot of health issues because of the disease—one of my family members died of a cardiac arrest.
During my research, I realised that by the time I completed my course, millions of people would be affected.
I wanted to do something beyond research, to help people. Not to mention that my mentors during my initial days were excellent.
People with comorbidities are more at risk of contracting Covid. Now that new variants like Omicron have hit us, how can diabetics keep the virus at bay?
It is very important to understand that immunity in diabetes is not destroyed in a day nor is it built overnight. Many diabetics have their blood sugar levels poorly controlled.
Metabolic diseases have a ‘memory’—they remember how they were treated. If you have been unable to manage diabetes for eight out of 10 years of diagnosis, the cardiac changes will be remembered by the body.
At the same time, we need to understand that Covid is here to stay for a long time, in its diverse variants. We have to be immunologically prepared for it. So,
*You have to be regular with your medicines.
*You have to be regular with your management of diabetes—monitor your sugar levels at regular intervals and visit a doctor.
*Monitor your blood pressure and lipid levels.
*Quit smoking to improve your lung capacity.
Covid patients were reported to experience higher blood sugar levels. Can you tell us more?
Any inflammation or infection in the body will shoot up the sugar levels. Many people who contracted Covid were simultaneously diagnosed with pneumonia, which eventually led to a rise in their sugar levels.
However, it was not as much as we expected. However, we had to use steroids in the case of many Covid patients, whose sugar levels shot up to 400-500. Covid interrupted patients’ diabetic management to a great extent.
There has been a rising incidence of diabetes in the country. What are some of the lifestyle habits that are putting us at risk?
*First, we are all leading sedentary lives. Most of us have moved to cars; we do not like to walk for more than 100 metres.
*Excessive consumption of junk foods or processed foods every day. We have shifted from low-calorie foods to high-calorie foods.
*Excessive stress also harms our health. We need to work on reducing the amount of stress in our daily lives.
Children are also at risk of prediabetes and diabetes. Why?
Children now are a lot more prone to diabetes. In the last two years of the pandemic, children have not gone to school.
Their physical activities have reduced significantly. Parents also need to take more responsibility to ensure their child does not spend his leisure hours in front of the screen or eat unhealthy foods.
Children are becoming very obese, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Besides, the number of generations with diabetes is increasing, which also increases the risk of diabetes in their children; it can affect them at a very young age.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is now very common among women. Can women with PCOS be diabetic?
Yes, it is all a game of insulin resistance. Whenever PCOS occurs, the anti-insulin hormones are secreted–the more the insulin, the more the weight gain.
Obesity, unhealthy lifestyle habits like eating processed foods, and lack of exercise are some of the reasons behind hormonal imbalance. PCOS is one of the risk factors for the early onset of diabetes.
Can you suggest some simple tips to prevent diabetes?
- Take out some time to relax. Practice meditation so that hormonal levels go down.
- Take a break from your busy schedule and go for a walk. Count the number of steps.
- Start dieting gradually. Crash diets cause you more harm than good. The diet you follow should be sustainable.
- Do not take extreme measures to lose weight. If you lose weight drastically, you may gain it soon, which will also increase the risk for diabetes.
- Reduce the intake of carbohydrates and avoid eating processed or fast foods.
- If there is a history of diabetes in your family, go for regular checkups.
- Most importantly, keep yourself hydrated and happy.
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