Takeaways from Health Live @ Seniors Today with Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar

Takeaways from Health Live @ Seniors Today with Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar

Do people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing Covid-19? Can diet reverse diabetes? What are the signs of prediabetes? What foods are diabetic safe? Is stevia safe? These and many more questions were answered by Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar on Saturday, August 1 as part of the Health Live @ Seniors Today series

On Saturday, August 1, Health Live @ Seniors Today hosted leading Endocrinologist, Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar to speak on diabetes and health care for senior citizens. 

Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar is a consulting physician and endocrinologist at the Bombay Hospital & Medical Research Centre and also practises at Ballani’s Clinic in Colaba. Dr Ballani Thakkar was recognised amongst America’s Top Physicians by the Consumers Research Council of America. Her fields of special interest are diabetes, thyroidology, and women’s health. She is a founder member and honorary secretary of the PCOS Society India.


Here are the takeaways from Health Live @ Seniors Today session with Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar:
  • Diabetics and Covid-19 – Diabetics do not have a higher risk of developing Covid-19. But due to immunity defects in diabetes there is a higher risk of developing complications of Covid-19 – increased risk of ICUs, immortality and morbidity associated with Covid-19. However, the risk of developing complications can be reduced by controlled diabetes.


  • Complications of uncontrolled diabetes – Poorly controlled diabetes in a long run can increase the risk of diabetic complications – paralysis, heart attacks, kidney impairment… hence it becomes essential to keep your diabetes in check to safeguard yourself from developing diabetic complications.


  • Stay vigilant – People suffering from diabetes should stay vigilant about their sugar levels using a glucometer – a tool that keeps diabetes in check.


  • Glucometer – Glucometers is a finger prick blood sugar test and sometimes these tests are not 100% accurate. There maybe 10-15% error in the readings between your lab tested reports and glucometer test. However, you can check the accuracy of your glucometer by carrying your glucometer to the lab and performing both the tests simultaneously. This will get you a better idea about your glucometer accuracy.


  • Eating right – To keep diabetes under control one must be mindful about their eating habits. Eating nutrient rich foods will help maintain diabetes.


  • Exercise – A little bit of exercise throughout the day will help maintain your health better. Yoga, meditation, and some good amount of walking will not only help clear your mind but also ease stress and anxiety.


  • Feet care – Especially for people with diabetes, taking care of your feet is important as smallest of injuries can result in a big infection. Check your feet every day, trim the nails when needed, wear closed slippers at home, and a pair of comfortable sneakers when you step out. Make sure your feet are cleaned, washed, and dried.


  • Routine check-ups and medication – Do not miss routine your check-ups and take all your prescribed medicines. You may feel the urge to drop a few meds here and there but taking all your prescribed medication is a must. Do not change your medication without the advice of your doctor. 


  •  Parameters of diabetes For a non-diabetic, a normal range of sugar will be less than 100. A normal PP sugar will be less than 140. A normal HBA1C will be less than 5.7.  For a diabetic, a fasting blood sugar will be more than 126. A PP blood sugar will be more than 200 and HBA1C more than 6.5. For a prediabetic, a fasting blood sugar will fall in the range of 120-125, PP blood sugar will fall in the range of 140-199 and HBA1C will fall in the range of 5.8-6.5. These parameters are for people without established diabetes.


  • Prediabetes – If one doesn’t take adequate precautions they can progress towards diabetes. Insulin resistance is the prediabetic phase where insulin is produced but is unable to reach the receptors, it is primarily blocked because of fat accumulation – also known as visceral fat collection more at the area of the liver. As the insulin doesn’t reach the receptors, the sugar levels cannot be maintained. Women tend to start developing diabetes more at the time of menopause while men can start getting prediabetic a little earlier. 


  • Glycemic Index (GI) – Glycemic load determines the rise in blood sugar levels after consumption of food/fruits. Combining the glycemic index with the carbohydrate content will give you the gycemic load of the food/fruit. Cherries, grapefruit, pears, apples, plums, strawberries… these are low glycemic fruits and are safe to have. Mangoes is considered to be of a medium glycemic index value and hence can be enjoyed in moderation. Bananas, grapes, dates, figs, raisins, processed foods, ripped fruits, have a high glycemic index value. 


  • A big NO – Colas and soda, trans fats – butters, peanut butters, margarine, foods containing maida – white breads, pastas, noodles, pizzas; sweetened cereals, honey, jaggery; fruit juices – are processed fruit, should be avoided. 


  • Jaggery is better than sugar is a myth – It is a myth that a natural form of sugar is better. Any natural form of sugar – jaggery, honey… will increase the blood sugar level, same as sugar. Hence natural sugar in any form is not safer.


  • Sweeteners – Prolonged consumption of sweeteners can result in loss of taste for natural sugars. Stevia is an approved sweetener and is safe.


  • Alcohol – Alcohol is made with molasses which makes the sugar to go up. If people with diabetes have alcohol in a regular basis, it can increase the risk of hyperglycemia – high sugar levels. So, the less you consume the better it is for your health. 


  • Reversal of diabetes – Reversal of diabetes is possible in people who are establishing diabetes. Although, a lot of effort in terms of good lifestyle management and weight loss is needed. For people with diabetes exercising is crucial, 150 minutes of walk in a week, 30 minutes of exercising a day with a minimum of 10 minutes session each – minimum three times a week and breaking sedentary gaps – breaks from prolonged sitting, will help in insulin sensitivity and insulin production. Cutting down 1000 calories per day of your diet, consuming nutrient dense food – legumes, wholegrains, nuts, fruits, vegetables will help in reversing diabetes.


Dr Piya Ballani Thakkar can be reached at 9821081286 (cell) or 7977765842 (whatsapp) for appointments via video consultation.

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