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Don’t let diabetes debilitate you



In an interview with the Sunday Island, Vidya Jyothi Dr. Prasad Katulanda, Honorary Consultant Diabetologist and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine from the University of Colombo, throws light on the urgency of managing diabetes during the pandemic and following safe health protocols. The complications of COVID-19 Virus in people with diabetes are more serious, warns the Consultant.

by Randima Attygalle

Diabetes is today a global epidemic affecting about 422 million people worldwide, World Health Organization (WHO) affirms. The majority of them live in low and middle income countries and 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. By 2030, diabetes is predicted to be the seventh leading cause of death by the WHO. Diabetes is today among the top ten causes of death with almost half of deaths occurring in people under the age of 60. One in six live births is also affected by hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. While the prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over one million lives worldwide so far. Over 50 million are infected with the virus. “Diabetes and COVID-19 are like a merge of two pandemics,” observes Vidya Jyothi Dr. Prasad Katulanda, Honorary Consultant Diabetologist and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine from the University of Colombo, who goes on to warn that people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe complications of COVID-19.

“Scientific evidence from China, America and several more countries reflect that obese people, people with diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease are at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-induced complications. Higher proportion of people in these groups require ICU care including ventilators,” explains the Consultant. Several reasons are attributed to people with diabetes developing complications of the virus. Those with diabetes, he explains, have a risk for inflammation. This makes is harder to fight the virus and leads to a longer recovery period. The virus also thrives in an environment of elevated blood glucose. “COVID complications occur as a result of an exaggerated response of the immune system- a condition known to be ‘cytokine storm’ where a lot of molecules of the immune system get liberated in large amounts. This amount is much more than a response to fight the infection. Since diabetics are at the risk of increased inflammation, this response gets further exaggerated resulting in higher COVID complications,” explains the Diabetologist calling for strict adherence to safety protocols.People with diabetes are also more prone to clotting of blood. “Post-mortems of COVID-infected patients have revealed blood clots in their lungs resulting in severe lung damage, hence those with diabetes need to be extra careful in taking precautions such as proper use of face masks, regular hand washing, maintaining social distancing and restricting social gatherings and travel,” says Dr. Katulanda.Whilst the management of diabetes during the pandemic is crucial, others in the household should also be equally cautious not to ‘bring the infection home,’ he remarks. “If you have any family member with diabetes, extra measures need to be taken when you return from your work place etc. If any family member is suspected of COVID, it is imperative to isolate him/her without any direct contact with the others.” The safety measures apply to the workplace as well where those with diabetes need to maintain social distancing, hand hygiene etc.Sri Lanka Non Communicable Disease Survey conducted by the Diabetes Research Unit of the Colombo University’s Medical Faculty reveals that in the Colombo city limits alone about 25% or more adults have diabetes. This reflects that one in three adults in Colombo has diabetes and the rate has gone up from 18% in 2016 to 25% now. Moreover, another 30 to 40% have pre-diabetes and only about 30% has perfectly normal blood sugar levels. Sri Lanka Young Diabetes Study too reflects that about 1% of diabetes is due to maternally inherited diabetes and deafness (MIDD). “Sri Lanka being an alarming ‘hot spot’ for Type 2 Diabetes, (adult onset diabetes) even those who are at the risk of diabetes (pre-diabetes) should watch out for their dietary patterns during the pandemic with lockdowns and quarantine curfew becoming a way of life,” warns Dr. Katulanda.

With the pandemic, come challenges to healthy eating. With limited food choices, especially during lockdown/curfew situations, more people are prone to consume starch and less fibre-rich foods. “We have seen some pre-diabetes people converting to diabetics due to this. Many have become obese and fatty liver conditions have got worse- all precursors to diabetes,” points out Katulanda urging people to eat healthy under the circumstances.

A diet of low glycemic index is encouraged with more unrefined carbs (whole grains, low GI rice, less oil and low sugar. Foods with trans-fat such as margarine, other fat spreads, oily meats (bacon, pork, sausages) should also be kept at bay. Adding more green vegetables and local green fruits such as nelli, guava and ambarella to the diet is also helpful. “Those who are likely to take more sugary foods should be conscious of what is called ‘portion exchange’ where they need to compromise on other starchy foods such as white bread, string hoppers etc.”

With regular physical activities such as walking and going to the gym becoming restricted during the pandemic, keeping one’s self fit at home is essential. “While those with a machine such as the treadmill could do a workout, others could do stretching exercises and yoga. Even the elderly with IT skills could get plenty of guidance on line to the best exercises to keep them fit during these trying times,” says the physician. Home gardening is another healthy option which not only keeps one fit but also helps bring fresh garden produce to the table.

Being couch potatoes at home addicted to devices, particularly the phone is means of inviting diabetes upon one’s self, he warns. “With work-from-home arrangements becoming a way of life, people tend to sit before a computer or a phone for longer periods and this makes them even more sedentary.” Taking regular breaks in between working hours to stretch or walk a bit, climb some stairs and limiting the screen time and chat groups could make a person more healthy.



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Life style

Redefining the local burger experience



Burger Hangover, the latest addition to Colombo’s vibrant culinary scene, recently celebrated its grand opening, much to the delight of burger enthusiasts across the city. Co-founded by Farhan Hameed and Razeen Razak, Burger Hangover aims to elevate the burger dining experience with its handcrafted creations and unique ambience.

Situated at 562/12, Lower Bagatale, Marine Drive, Colombo 3, Burger Hangover offers a chic and inviting two-storey space, complete with a breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean. The restaurant’s vibrant and playful interior design, featuring the brand’s signature colours of red, white, and yellow, sets the stage for a fun and relaxed dining experience.

Farhan Hameed and Razeen Razak, former classmates and avid foodies, combined their expertise to create Burger Hangover. Razeen, an accomplished cook, oversees the kitchen, while Farhan manages operations, inventory, and the overall running of the restaurant. Their shared passion for quality food and a seamless dining experience is evident in every aspect of Burger Hangover.

Farhan Hameed and Razeen Razak

The grand opening

Farhan Hameed explains, “Our menu is designed to be simple and straightforward. We offer a range of chicken and beef burgers, along with nuggets, fries, beverages, and coffee. All our burgers are ground on-site with our own blend, ensuring they are fresh and juicy.”

Razeen Razak adds, “The idea for Burger Hangover came after a friend suggested we pivot from noodles to burgers, given their popularity and simplicity. We started on UberEATS in 2019 but had to close due to the pandemic and economic crisis. Now, with our physical location on Marine Drive, the response has been phenomenal. We are committed to serving everything fresh to order.”

In addition to its delectable menu, Burger Hangover features a spacious kids’ playroom, making it an ideal destination for families. The restaurant’s signature burgers, topped with condiments like diced salad, tomato, onion, pickle, lettuce, and a special sauce, promise a delightful burst of flavor with every bite.

Burger Hangover is poised to become a favourite spot for burger lovers in Colombo. Visit 562/12, Lower Bagatale, Marine Drive, Colombo 3, to experience their handcrafted burgers. For inquiries or orders, call 0112555665 or WhatsApp +94 77 727 7895.

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Life style

Winner of the 31st Gratiaen Prize



Angeline Ondaatjie (31st Gratiaen Prize Jury), Nisreen Jafferjee (Co-Chair Gratiaen Trust), Dr. Anthony Joseph (31st Gratiaen Prize Chair of the Jury), Ramya Jirasinghe (31st Gratiaen Prize Winner), Nafeesa Amiruddeen (Co-Chair Gratiaen Trust), Nadija Tambiah (President, Executive VP, Head-Legal & Secretarial at John Keells), Orlando Edwards (Country Director British Council Sri Lanka)

The Gratiaen Trust in Association with John Keells Foundation

The Gratiaen Trust, in association with John Keells Foundation and with the support of the British Council, announced Ramya Jirasinghe for her captivating book titled Father Cabraal’s Recipe for Love Cake the winner of the 31st Gratiaen Prize. The award ceremony was held at the Stables, Park Street Mews, the official venue partner for the event.

Father Cabraal’s Recipe for Love Cake by Ramya Jirasinghe was selected from five incredibly powerful shortlisted works. In alphabetical order:: A Passing Return by Pasan Jayasinghe (Travelogue – Unpublished); Gnanam by Selvi Sachithanandam (Biography – Published); Students and Rebels by Vihanga Perera (Novel – Published) and When Ghosts Die by Lal Medawattegedara (Novel – Unpublished).

The jury described Father Cabraal’s Recipe for Love Cake as an evocative, moving story of Katharina, and her passion for love cake and her home. Ramya Jirasinghe’s ambitious, tightly structured and perceptive novel traces intriguing layers of Lankan history, especially the role of African traders. Notable for its attention to sensory detail, Father Cabraal’s Recipe for Love Cake explores ideas of home, belonging and place.

In a joint statement, co-chairs of the Gratiaen Trust, Nafeesa Amiruddeen and Nisreen Jafferjee stated, “We are delighted that Ramya’s book was selected as the winner of the 31st Gratiaen Prize. This year we were pleased to note the wide gamut of genres and creative writing styles that were submitted. It is reflective of the growing confidence of Sri Lankan storytelling. Sri Lankan writers today have more opportunities to hone their craft with access to workshops and literary events such as the Masterclass to be conducted by the Chair of our jury, Dr. Anthony Joseph who is visiting Sri Lanka to attend the award event.”

The Gratiaen Trust also announced a masterclass to be conducted at the British Council Library by Dr. Anthony Joseph titled Approaches to Form. The masterclass is supported by British Council Sri Lanka and will explore the structure of words and sentences and their poetic interplay that build beautiful stories. This event is a testament to the Trust’s enduring commitment to literary excellence.

The jury for the 31st Gratiaen Prize includes Dr. Anthony Joseph F.R.S.L., a T.S. Eliot award-winning poet, novelist, a professor at Kings College, and a musician. Joining him in the judging process were Dr. Ruvani Ranasinha, a professor specialising in postcolonial literature at King’s College London; and Angeline Ondaatjie, a renowned hotelier and academic with a background in chemical engineering and literature. The judging panel reflected the Gratiaen Prize’s longstanding tradition of representing three perspectives within the judging process, that comprised a creative writer, an academic and an informed general reader.

The Gratiaen Trust’s primary sponsor since October 2019 is John Keells Foundation (JKF) – the CSR entity of the John Keells Group. This partnership aligns with JKF’s vision of Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow. The British Council’s sponsorship of the visit of Dr. Anthony Joseph, and several workshops and masterclasses is part of the Creative Literature series organised together with the Trust to mark the 75th anniversary of UK-Sri Lanka Diplomatic ties. The Trust acknowledges the invaluable support of its other partners: Park Street Mews, Wijeya Newspapers and Marga Institute.

For more details about the Gratiaen Prize and the upcoming awards ceremony, visit

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Life style

Turkish breakfast



by Zanita Careem

Türkiye has a long and rich history as the successor of Ottoman Empire and its predecessor,Seljuks and many more.

Turkish people love food and we are proud of our rich cuisine. Turkish cuisine which has a rich appearance and is renowned for its distinctive traditional dishes, is well-known throughout the world as one of the most popular cuisines, like French, Chinese or Indian cuisines said Ambassador from Turkeye to Sri Lanka Semih Lutfu Turgut

Turkish breakfast is undoubtedly one significant aspect of Turkish cuisine. In contrast to many other countries, breakfast is considered equally important as supper, with lavish and rich tables.

It is important, because it allows people to spend enjoyable times with family members and friends.

He also said Turkish people like to drink both tea and coffee. As you may know we have famous tea glasses and Turkish version of coffee.

Nevertheless, Turkish coffee, especially if you drink without sugar, is quite strong; therefore, it is hard to drink Turkish coffee in an empty stomach.

The food that is eaten before coffee is, by definition, pre-coffee meal, which lead to the origins of the Turkish word for breakfast, kahvalt?, derived from kahve-alt?, meaning before coffee.

If anything is going to be eaten before coffee, there is a necessity of a drink that accompany the food at the breakfast; at that moment tea comes to the scene.

Most people around the world drink coffee in the morning, whereas Turkish people prefers tea.

Tea is an integral part of breakfast, a breakfast without tea is unthinkable in Türkiye.

Turkish people prefer brewing in teapot and like to drink freshly brewed black tea in small

glasses, most of the Turks do not prefer instant tea bags.

In addition to tea, Turkish breakfast has other elements. There must be bread, without bread a Turkish breakfast would be incomplete. At his point I must highlight one Turkish specialty, Simit.

Bread or Simit is either cut into slices or break into irregular pieces, typically consumed after being dipped in eggs, jams, honey.

Turkish breakfast includes both salty and sweet foods, some are also spicy. There would be olives (both black and green), cheese (various types), tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, spreads (vegetables, hazelnut), eggs (many types), dried fruits (apricot, fig) and nuts (walnut, almond),

jams, honey, and molasses at the traditional Turkish breakfast table.

Turkish people prefer to spend time talking with one another at the breakfast table while still sitting down and sipping their tea even after eating.

Ambassador with Esala Weeakoon and wifeKrishanti

Ambassador from Turkeye to Sri Lanka Semih Lutfu Turgut

Pix by Thushara Attapathu

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