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Diabetes and hypertension are more lifestyle disorders. They dictate the number of times one must take medication along with dietary restraints. In effect, the realization of the disorder remains through the day. So it does come as a surprise to learn that both these disorders can be effectively controlled and treated with mere diet and exercise alone. No more pill popping!

Dr Rajeev Sharangpani is the man who treats patients who come to him with such disorders. Most come to him when conventional medication has failed and their condition has progressively worsened. Desperate for some relief and hope, they try this unconventional method as a last ditch attempt. Many are surprised when it works. The man who makes this happen for many has given up cancer surgery to pursue sports medication. His patients are certainly better off for it.

Says 40–year–old Jyotikumar Kulkarni, an obesity and diabetes patient, “I had Type II Diabetes Mellitus and was advised by doctors to shed weight, avoid sweets and take four tablets of gilbencamide regularly. I would feel fatigued and had no energy absolutely. Besides, my blood sugar remained a high 358 ml/dl.” Kulkarni tried to follow his doctor’s advice diligently for two years. Nothing worked and his medication increased to nine pills. On Sharangpani’s advice, Kulkarni enrolled at the Chaitanya Health Club and lost 8 kgs. in two months. In a year he managed to lose 30 kgs from 98 kgs and his blood sugar is now at 103 at fasting and 110 mg/dl post–prandial. Even his medication intake reduced as his sugar levels fell. “I have not taken any medication for the past six months”, says a visibly happy Kulkarni.

44–year–old D L Pharande, is another success story. A businessman whose life had been made miserable with diabetes for the past 10 years, he was taking five tablets daily along with diet control. When this was not working either, his doctor advised him to take insulin. “This was when I realized that I needed an alternative,” says Pharande. He visited Sharangpani and two months later his blood sugar level was 64 mg/dl as compared to the one taken a month earlier at 184 mg/dl. His tablet intake is down to two a day and he might be free of all medication in another month’s time.

So how does it work? Says Sharangpani, “My patients are asked to follow a strict diet regimen. These are civilization disorders and can be easily controlled without medication.” His patients are advised to give up dinner, “Because our body’s metabolism is such that it drops to its lowest at 1.00 a.m. Also, metabolism works best during the day and it has been noticed that if one eats the same amount during the day and night, it is the evening meal which turns to fat.” Since patients do not have dinner, they must also stop their night–time dose of pills as this might increase their chances of getting hypoglyceamia (low sugar levels). Sensitive patients must also test their urine for sugar in the morning, as some of them can get low sugar levels while exercising. Patients are also required to do abdominal breathing for half an hour two to four times a day.

These lifestyle diseases can be slow killers. The risk is greatest to all the body’s major organs – heart, kidneys, eyes and peripheral blood vessels. The best way to control this is through diet and exercise. Sharangpani feels that it is because we have stopped using our bodies correctly and started eating improper foods that such problems occur. “It is not walks or aerobics which do the trick. It is weight training which seeks to improve the size and strength of the muscles and their enzyme content.” In Type II diabetes sugar is found in the blood because the insulin which is produced by the pancreas is not used by the muscle because it has lost its effectiveness. The sugar finds its way into the blood. Building muscle strength is a way to keep sugar out of the blood. Such exercise is given to all the muscles of the body and depending on a patient’s ability, weights are given accordingly.

While there might be skeptics like Dr Abhay Mutha, a diabetes specialist who feels that “While exercise plays a vital role, medication is needed as well for long term patients,” the patients themselves definitely seem happy with their “Now normal” lives.

“Diabetes is also stress related. So there might be something to this method,” says Dr V N Annachattre, who had earlier looked after Pharande. But he is not completely sure of it being stopped altogether.

Says Pharande, “I have to follow a strict diet for life. But then I do manage to eat the things I like occasionally, like sweets.” He and the 40 odd patients who have adapted to this technique feel happier that their lives are at least free of medication. Their routine has become such an integral part of their lives, that missing exercise feels like something is lacking. Says Kukri, who was busy with his work for almost two months and could do exercise, “Initially I was worried that my sugar level and BP would go up. I was surprised when it didn’t. Now, I feel odd if I miss my daily exercise”.

Alternative techniques like these might just be a pointer in the right direction. Another one for the medical community to sit up and take notice.

Dr Rajeev Sharangpani
Can be contacted at +91 020 6134475/4450645 (clinic)