Jitendra Sinha, 57, the Co-founder and CEO of Navi Mumbai based SAI sustainable agro, a multinational social agro-enterprise was in for a rude shock when he suffered a minor paralysis on the left side of his face in October 2021. But he had more headed up his way as his blood work done before his MRI scan revealed that his blood glucose levels were on the upper side of 383 mg/dL which was cited as one of the reasons why he suffered facial paralysis. He had tested positive for covid-19, a couple of weeks earlier. He was also found to have high blood glucose level because of covid treatment.
“I decided to take some minor precautions regarding my blood sugar and medications but when I checked my blood again after two months, it was still high and that’s when I realized that I have to address the diabetes situation on top priority,” says Sinha.
It however took some time for him to digest that he had diabetes since he believed in keeping himself fit and worked closely with not just suited up clients in corporate board rooms but also with farmers across the globe. Within a couple of weeks, he started experiencing fatigue, sleep disturbances with prolonged lack of sleep or excess sleep which were all starting to take a toll on his professional life.
Objective: To tackle and manage diabetes at the earliest
Sinha decided to go the corporate way and tackle the condition on a high priority basis. He started researching the topic and also reading about its co-morbidities and how to effectively manage it. He was a bit worried about the fact that he would have to take high dosage of diabetic medications on a regular basis, if he did not bring his diabetes under control.
“I started collecting as much information on diabetes as possible. I learned about different types of diabetes. I learned about diabetes and insulin, BMI and Glycemic Index. I learned about insulin deficiency and insulin resistance. I came across many myths and realities on diabetes,” Sinha says. He also adds that he read about other people who have reversed diabetes through diet and exercise.
“I realized diabetes at the end of the day is a lifestyle disease which might get escalated but could be resolved by incorporating certain lifestyle changes,” he adds. He also enrolled himself for a program that gave him necessary tips and advice for diabetes management which he could follow and ensure a gradual decline in his blood glucose levels.
Like most corporate solutions, he also came up with an acronym to encapsulate his diabetes self discovery and reversal mission.
“My secret formula was learning and understanding my diabetes, gaining knowledge, and then devising my strategy AASHA (Awareness, Action, Sustenance, Healthy Lifestyle and Attainment) to come out of diabetic situation, “ he says
The diabetes reversal journey
From July 2022, he started working on reversing his diabetes. He also adds that he started walking and exercising regularly and also started monitoring his blood glucose levels regularly. His diet was also completely revamped to minimize his carbohydrate intake and increase his protein, fiber and healthy fat consumption. He also started walking and exercising and became cautious about what I was eating and checked my blood sugar levels regularly.
“I also took fenugreek (methi dana) water by soaking the few seeds overnight in a glass of water and drinking that water in the morning,” says Sinha. His nutritionist advised him to eat mixed seeds after every meal and soak 8-10 almonds and walnuts overnight and eat them in the morning after removing the skin. These precautions kept his sugar levels from fluctuating, he adds.
Sinha says that every morning, he started to go for a 90 min walk followed by yoga and exercise sessions during the day.
“I used to eat healthy throughout the day and made sure to finish dinner before 8 pm,” says Sinha.
By October 2022, he stopped taking medications completely. He also points out that his doctor had told him that there might be an increase initially in his blood glucose levels after stoppage of medicine.
“Luckily I have been able to manage my blood glucose levels within the range of 95-120mg/dL for fasting, ” he adds. Sinha points out that he has managed to bring down his HbA1c levels to 6 from the initial levels of 7.7 percent.
Challenges he faced especially as a frequent traveler:
While maintaining a healthy lifestyle was a real challenge with the nature of his job and traveling frequently across countries, he is of the opinion that it is awareness and commitment that matters the most. “Though I was not taking any junk/processed food for years, leaving sugar, dairy products, and potatoes was a bit difficult as it suddenly dropped my energy levels,” says Sinha. He adds that he switched to dry fruits (walnut and almonds), fresh fruits (apple, pear) and green leafy vegetables instead. He also reduced his portion of wheat and rice, and substituted it with millet, oats, and pulses (moong, chana). He also believes that this is possible no matter where in the world one is. “I have travelled to several places including Europe and Africa and maintain a healthy diet no matter where,” he adds.
“Many times, my friends and family would be concerned and ask why I should work so hard on reversing and why not just take medicines instead, “says Sinha. They had the misconception that if you are taking medicine your sugar and BP levels are fine and that you are well. They did not realize that it could get worse later on. I realized that if I get dependent on medicines, it will get difficult for me. The awareness level about diabetes reversal among people is very low.
How reversing diabetes helped him?
Apart from feeling fit and active physically, he also feels a lot better mentally now. “I used to constantly feel like I was unwell. Now my attitude towards life has changed,” says Sinha. Apart from keeping his sugar under control, he has also managed to lose 5 and a half kilograms. “Back when I was eating food with a lot of calories and carbohydrates, I felt heavy. I feel much more active and lighter now that I am cautious of what I eat. This also helped him control his chronic asthma.
Sinha is very strict and particular with his diet and healthy lifestyle, especially during the diabetes reversal process. Now, his sugar levels are still maintained despite indulging in sweets/ice cream occasionally as a cheat meal.
“I think it is sad that we are consuming food without any knowledge or awareness and have become more sedentary in nature,” says Sinha. His motto is to remember how our ancestors lived and try following that.
Jitendra Sinha, 57, the Co-founder and CEO of SAI sustainable agro, a multinational social agro-enterprise based out of Navi Mumbai was diagnosed with diabetes after he was diagnosed with Covid 19 in October 2021. He started facing difficulties due to blood glucose fluctatuons at his work forcing him to put aside time to understand diabetes and its co-morbidities so that he could tackle it and reverse it. He decided to follow a strict diet of minimum carbohydrates and protein rich food with a bit of healthy fat. He however had to face some difficulties due to his frequent international travel and busy work schedules. However, he managed to bring down his HbA1c 7.7 percent to 6 percent.