The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), one of the apex trade associations of India concluded the third edition of the ‘Illness to Wellness’ series themed ‘Diabetes Management During COVID-19’ with an eminent panel of diabetes experts invited to hold dialogue on the illness. The galaxy of experts highlighted that patients with poorly controlled diabetes with comorbidities are more vulnerable to developing severe symptoms for COVID-19.Supported by the hygiene brand SAVLON, the programme which promotes healthy living with focus on wellness and preventive health through healthy habits, diet, exercise, and holistic health saw the speakers deliberate on how diabetics in India can best undertake preventive measures at home during COVID-19. India currently stands in second place in number of diabetes cases across the world after China, according to the International Diabetes Foundation Diabetes Atlas. India is said to have approximately 77 million diabetics.
Highlighting on the importance of regulating and monitoring for diabetic patients during COVID-19, (Padma Bhushan) Dr. Ambrish Mittal, Chairman and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes Department at Max Healthcare said, “A young, newly diagnosed or well controlled fit diabetic is not the same as an old diabetic with poorer control. If you are a well-controlled otherwise fit diabetic, then you really not at too much of risk of getting COVID, however, same protocol as others need to be observed with stringent precautions. If a diabetic does turn out to be COVID positive and asymptomatic then you need to undergo quarantine, if you are symptomatic mildly then you need to be in touch with your doctor and may also require testing from time to time but this can still be managed from home with isolation. If you are highly vulnerable with old age and conditions like kidney diseases, diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure then it is advisable that you get admitted.”
Taking the discussion further, (Padma Shri) Prof. (Dr.) Anoop Misra, Executive Chairman, Fortis C-DOC, laid focus on regulating and monitoring sugar levels for diabetics during COVID-19. “Stick to your medication, do not leave your medication and check your sugar level constantly. Get your home monitoring kit and use it to monitor your levels. It is not advisable to go to a lab to get tests done right now. Sugar management and control is of utmost importance as this itself will indicate what will be your state if you were to contract COVID, whether it will be mild or severe. This applies to non-diabetics too as many people are gaining weight this time and are inclined to pick-up diabetes,” he said. Stressing the importance of maintaining a healthy diet that consists of ample supply of proteins, fibres and micro-nutrients, Dr. Misra added, “Do not get into fad diets like intermittent fasting or keto diets. A usual balanced meal with 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables and green leafy veggies should be enough. People need to also take in plenty of nuts and seeds and to get a good amount of fibres and micronutrients nutrients in their diets.”
He then went on to list out food items to be consumed through the day like for breakfast — milk, egg, fruit, oats or dalia, almonds, chia seeds and for lunch and dinner — chapatti, dal, roti, dahi, green leafy vegetables, soya, paneer, chicken or fish. Commenting on how diabetes can be controlled by pregnant women during COVID-19, Dr Hema Divakar, Consultant ObGyn and Medical Director of Divakars Specialty Hospital said, “All pregnancies in India need to be tested for sugar on third and sixth months. What is happening is that their sugar test is being done very late and their level has already gone up which means we are forced to use insulin. As long as you are in control of your sugar level through dietary exercise or other means you are fine. We want to keep the insulin usage to minimal as it adds to the daily trauma and frustration of monitoring that happens in pregnancies. So early detection and using simpler means to control it rather than insulin is the best way to go even in COVID-19 era.” She further elaborated that COVID positive mothers need not stop breastfeeding. “First step is to always opt for breastfeeding unless the woman is seriously ill. Most pregnant woman who are COVID positive are asymptomatic so same precautions of masking, handwashing, hygiene etc should be maintained and she is allowed to breastfeed which is the best feeding. Unnecessary skin contact like cuddling etc should not be allowed by either the mother or relatives. We allow breast feeding because this virus has not yet been detected in breastmilk,” she said.
Anil Rajput, Chairman, ASSOCHAM CSR Council highlighting the mass prevalence of diabetes in the world said, “One in every six diabetics in the world is an Indian. This is a very serious problem. With the initiation of COVID-19, it has become an explosive and extremely challenging situation that is pushing doctors and researchers to their absolute limit. I think India is doing extremely well so far and with the efforts of frontline healthcare workers and experts who are constantly advising people, our country stands a better chance to overcome these challenging times. People have to be mentally strong to deal with this crisis so that we conquer it, and happy days can come back to our lives once again.”Dr Rajesh Kesari, founder and director, Total Care Controlwho moderated the event, highlighted the plight of diabetic patients during COVID-19 and placed interesting and pertinent questions before the expert panel.