Diabetes is one of the most common chronic health conditions adversely affecting one’s health. India is dubiously also called the diabetes capital of the world as millions of people in the country suffer from this disease. It occurs when the glucose content in your body also known as blood sugar is too high. Blood sugar is our body’s source of energy and mainly comes from the food you eat. The glucose which is taken through food and not immediately used is then converted into a stored form called glycogen and fat by the hormone called insulin secreted by the pancreas.
“During states of fasting, such stored glucose is then used to make energy required by our body. The liver is the main organ that helps us in reconverting stored glucose to utilizable glucose. Insulin is required to control this process allowing only the required amount of glucose to be released into the blood. In the absence of insulin – both these processes i.e., digested glucose getting converted to stored forms as well as controlled release of glucose from the liver during fasting becomes impaired thereby leading to excessive sugar in the blood”, Dr Srinivasa P Munigoti, Consultant Diabetologist Endocrinologist Fortis Hospital. Over time, having too much glucose or sugar content in the blood causes diabetes and several other health problems.
Some of the common myths about diabetes
People tend to have a lot of myths and assumptions about diabetes through external sources and frame them as facts. These myths about diabetes can sometimes be harmful and can mislead them towards making the wrong choices.
Myth 1: People with diabetes should avoid eating rice (carbohydrate)
This is one of the most common myths about diabetes, that people with this condition should follow the only rice-free diet. But what actually needs to be done is, people should have a balanced diet that includes rice as a source of carbohydrate in moderate amounts. Although alternate sources of carbohydrates like brown rice, wheat and millets tend to have a better glycaemic index (ease of breakdown and digestion of glucose content), they should not be treated as ‘holy foods’ and rice as an ‘unholy’ one. Instead, all forms of carbohydrate food should be eaten in moderation along with a healthy proportion of protein, fat and vegetables. They should also consume fruits in small portions as these contain a lot of essential minerals and vitamins.
Myth 2: Type 2 diabetes only affects the people who are overweight
In general, people assume that only people who are overweight are the ones who are prone to diabetes, but that’s not true. Around 20% of the population who have diabetes are of normal weight or underweight people.
Myth 3: Diabetes occurs due to stress
Although ‘stress’ a state of emotional imbalance resulting from maladjustment to daily life challenges is commonly blamed as a cause of diabetes, it has no direct role in causing the disease. But ‘stress’ leading to poor lifestyle such as lack of control on diet leading up to poor food choices that include high carbohydrates, high-calorie food combined with a lack of attention to exercise can certainly bring about diabetes.
Myth 4: Only elderly people get diabetes
There is no age limit for getting diabetes, even young children at the age of 5 are also being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or Juvenile diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also found increasingly in adolescents as well as young adults in their 20’s and 30’s. This is thought to be the result of poor lifestyle choices that include eating unhealthy high-calorie food coupled with lack of adequate exercise by children. To help prevent diabetes in children, parents should try to encourage good habits to the children at the young age itself. Lesser screen time, more physical activity, less junk food, and smaller portions can help prevent the occurrence of diabetes.
Myth 5: Medication used in the treatment of Diabetes damages kidneys
This is a common misapprehension that leads many patients to do not take the required medication. Whereas long-standing poorly controlled diabetes can certainly cause damage to eyes, kidney and heart, use of medication does not. All allopathic medication used by your doctor are well tested for both short and long term safety and are allowed to be used only after benefits to improve patients health are clearly proven. So one should not be afraid to take prescribed medication in the doses suggested by their doctor.
Myth 6: Diet and exercise have unlimited potential to control sugars.
Although a healthy diet low in carbohydrates along with regular exercise can help in controlling sugars, they are in many cases insufficient on their own. This is because diabetes is a disease condition that results in reduced insulin production and reduced effectiveness with which secreted insulin acts. Hence there is always a role for medication prescribed by your doctor in controlling sugars once diet and exercise fail to do it on their own.
Myth 7: Type 2 diabetes is not that harmful
Another common myth is that people tend to ignore the symptoms or medication for type 2 diabetes. In reality, it isn’t true. In fact, no form of diabetes is less harmful or avoidable. If this type of diabetes is poorly managed it can lead to serious life-threatening complications. But, by following a balanced diet and by keeping a check on sugar level in the body, the impact of diabetes can definitely be decreased and can also lower the risks of extreme complications.
As they say “Right knowledge will lead to right understanding and right understanding should lead to right action” So through a right understanding of the disease, one should follow the right advice which includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, taking right medication when required and follow up with doctors as suggested. This will invariably lead to good health outcomes.
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