On Valentine’s Day of 2011, an unforeseen revelation caught Anup Singh off guard. He discovered that his blood sugar levels had reached 224 mg/dL postprandial, which is way above the normal limit of 140 mg/dL. He was given a week by his doctor to improve those numbers. Cutting down on his daily carb intake, he felt confident that his subsequent reports after a week would show improvement. But unfortunately, his sugar levels only dropped to 200 mg/dL postprandial, with his doctor formally declaring him a ‘diabetic’.
The Indore-based entrepreneur (60) had no family history of diabetes and was diagnosed during a checkup after having some health scares like high blood pressure and temporary loss of voice. “I was disappointed. From the first week’s reading to the next, I had cut down on carbs like chapatis and expected the numbers to be far better than the earlier report. The doctor then formally diagnosed me with diabetes and gave me a window of two to three months to try and bring the blood sugar levels under control without medication, just by dieting and brisk walking every day,” says Singh. He took to walking 4 kilometers after every meal, as the doctor also recommended losing weight. Being 5 feet 8.5 inches tall, he weighed 83 kilos at that time; he was able to reduce 12 kilos after that.
Adopting a low-carb, healthy-fat diet
Singh says he made sure to walk even during the hot summer at 45-degree temperatures. However, he soon realized that it might not help in the long run. “I could do it then, but I knew it would not be feasible a decade later as I grew older. All I knew then was that diabetes can be managed only with insulin, as one of my friends in school used to take injections for his condition. I didn’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes either. I did a lot of reading on diabetes and understood that those with the condition find it difficult to regulate glucose,” he recalls. That is when he started on a low-carb, healthy-fat diet. He used to have only two meals a day and reduced the daily carb quantity to 100 grams. His diet included boiled eggs and measured portions of rice, omelet, fish or chicken. “I used to test my blood sugar levels rigorously at home to understand what foods caused a spike in my sugar levels. I was hell-bent on avoiding pills as much as possible. So, I took this drastic step with low carbs and healthy fats,” says Singh.
He managed to bring his HbA1C (glycated hemoglobin) levels in the range of 5 to 5.4 percent (normal levels) in May 2011 and became diabetes-free. However, he then had a relapse. “I relaxed on my diet and increased my carb intake, thinking I had reversed the condition and mastered it all. But when I saw that my HbA1C levels shot up to 6 percent in November 2011, I realized I cannot cheat with my diet,” he says.
Being diabetes-free without medication
Getting back on track, Singh reverted to a diet comprising low-carbs and healthy fats. Currently, he has been maintaining a fasting blood sugar level of around 85 to 90 mg/dL and 110 to 130 mg/dL postprandial. He says with pride that he will be completing 13 years free of diabetes, which he accomplished without taking even a single pill. “I mostly manage my sugar levels with a strict diet. During social gatherings, like at weddings, it can be difficult to find non-carb food. I try not to go beyond 100 grams of carbs a day, and if I do, I compensate with exercise,” he shares.
He recently switched to a carnivore diet to increase his protein intake, with the goal of ‘reducing his jean size [waistline] from 32 to 30 inches’. “I am trying it out to see how it affects my blood glucose levels in comparison to a low-carb, healthy-fat diet. I eat five boiled eggs with black coffee for breakfast, an omelet in the evening, one or two cups of milk coffees throughout the day and red meat or fish for dinner,” he says.
No diabetes complications so far
Since his blood sugar levels are in check, his other health complications like tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and epiphora (watery eyes when chewing food) are now under control as well. “The power of my reading glasses has also remained constant at 2.5 since 2011,” he says, adding that his entire blood workup is also normal.
When asked about his motivation to keep going and stay diabetes-free, he responds, “My lab reports. In addition, I’ve been reading about diabetes complications and how they can affect the eyes and cause loss of limbs, which has scared me.”
Singh is now helping several others with diabetes by encouraging them to adopt a low-carb diet through his forum, dLife.in, which he founded in August 2014.
Anup Singh, a 60-year-old Indore-based entrepreneur, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011 despite having no family history of the condition. With his doctor giving him two to three months to normalize his blood sugar levels, he switched to a low-carb, healthy-fat diet and walked 4 kilometers after every meal. It’s been almost 13 years now since he’s been free from diabetes, which he claims to have accomplished without taking a single pill. He now helps others manage the condition through his forum, dLife.in.