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7 Biggest Myths About Diabetes

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Diabetes is one of the many "diseases of civilization," with interaction of genetic, nutritional and sociocultural factors, among others, that result in one of the highest-prevalence pathologies in today's world. Diabetes is essentially a metabolic disorder caused by the little or no ability of the pancreas to produce insulin.

Generally, misinformation from friends and other patients create a picture of Diabetes which is far from truth. It is very important that patients are educated immediately after diagnosis. This education can be in the form of an organized education programme involving all health workers inclusive of nurse specialists, dieticians and podiatrists.

There are so many myths prevalent about diabetes that it makes it difficult for the patient to believe that diabetes is actually a very serious, complicated and fatal disease. Get your facts correct and get into the management of your diabetes to ensure a successful quest of glycemic control. Here are 7 most prevalent myths about diabetes.

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Myth #1

I have Mild Diabetes.

Truth #1

There is NO such thing as Mild Diabetes. All patients who meet the criteria for Diabetes are liable to long term disabling complications.

Myth #2

There is only one kind of serious Diabetes.

Truth #2

Diabetes is of two types:

Type I Diabetes. Type I Diabetes is a disease of insulin deficiency. Pancreatic β islet cells produce and secrete insulin. Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where autoantibodies directed against pancreatic islet cells destroy these cells. Thus, the pancreatic cells produce little or no insulin. The treatment comprises of insulin therapy.

Type II Diabetes. Type II Diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and a progressive decline in insulin secretion. This Diabetes is due to defective insulin release rather than destruction of β cells. Type II Diabetes is thus a disorder in which relative insulin deficiency gradually converts to absolute insulin deficiency which may require insulin therapy.

Myth #3

I have Diabetes because I eat too much sugar.

Truth #3

After the intake of food, the increased concentration of glucose triggers the secretion of insulin from the pancreatic islet cells. After secretion, insulin enters the portal circulation and is carried to liver where it causes the storage of glucose in the form of glycogen. Insulin also causes controlled release of glucose in between the meals.

Thus, insulin is the major regulator of intermediary metabolism. The deficiency of insulin thus causes an abnormal rise in the glucose levels in the body which brings about further microvascular and macro vascular complications.

Thus, it is not sugar that causes Diabetes, but a deficiency of insulin.

Myth #4

Since I'm obese, I will eventually develop Diabetes.


Diabetes develops when the body cannot secrete sufficient insulin to meet its requirements. Even massively obese individuals with fully functional β cells do not develop Diabetes. The concept is that β islet cell impairment generally occurs in people with poor nutrition early in life, especially those with low birth weight and who gain excess weight later in life.

Insulin resistance (Type II Diabetes) is associated with central obesity, and accumulation of intracellular triglycerides in muscles and liver. As compared with a healthy obese individual, a diabetic obese patient shows much greater destruction of β cells.

So, if you are overweight, it is not necessary that you will develop Diabetes.

Myth #5

I have to eat special food because I have Diabetes.

Truth #5

The care of Diabetes is based on self- management in accordance with specialized medical care. The diet of Diabetic patients is not much different from healthy individuals. The diet has to be balanced with a proper exercise regimen. The diet is generally;

  • Low in sugar (NOT SUGAR FREE!)
  • High in starchy carbohydrates
  • High in fiber
  • Low in fat

The obese diabetics should be encouraged to lose weight by a combination of diet and exercise.

Myth #6

I cannot do anything about the complications associated with Diabetes

Truth #6

Self-management and regular checkups are the key to avoiding Diabetic complications. If you go for regular health checkups and keep your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in control through healthy eating habits and exercise regimen, then the risk of diabetic complications such as neuropathy and nephropathy can be minimized.

Myth #7

Only I need Insulin

Truth #7

Insulin is a hormone which is released by the islet cells of pancreas. It is a regulatory hormone playing a role in the intermediary metabolism of glucose, fats and proteins. It is the deficiency or reduction in insulin levels that causes Diabetes and hence, patients diagnosed with Type I Diabetes need insulin administered from outside.

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The truth thus, is that everyone needs insulin for proper metabolism.

So, if you have been diagnosed with Diabetes, shed your stereotypes and stigmas associated with Diabetes and take care.

Pooja S. Banerjee is a pharmacist by profession. She has been an active academician and researcher. Her passion for writing has recently led her to foray in the field of medical and content writing.

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