Myths and Facts About Diabetes

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The incidence of Diabetic Mellitus worldwide has become a major public health concern. Creating awareness of the facts about diabetes mellitus is an effort toward ensuring optimum health for all irrespective of their economic status societal values or culture and beliefs. 

Cultural values and the beliefs of people often have an influence on their perception of different health challenges, for instance, diabetes. Several myths exist regarding what diabetes is, its risk factors, prevention, as well as diets. Such myths, if not dispelled early enough may cause irreparable damage to the body or even lead to death.

Myths about diabetes risk factors

There is a myth that being overweight or obese automatically results in diabetes mellitus

Fact; being overweight or obese is only a risk factor that predisposes an individual to develop diabetes according to Sudhakaran and Shabaraya- authors of the review article “Nonpharmacological Treatment of Diabetic Mellitus: Myth V/S Reality.” This is true, especially for type 1 diabetes as it is evident to date that the cause is still unknown. Other risk factors include race, sedentary lifestyle, age, pre-diagnosis of gestational diabetes, and family history.

The myth about causes and cures for diabetes

Statements like, ‘sugary foods cause diabetes or bitter food cures diabetes’ are myths propelled by peoples’ beliefs.

Fact; sugary food is not the cause of diabetes says Sudhakaran and Shabaraya. Furthermore, David Cavan- a diabetes expert pointed out that people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may be asked to make dietary changes specific to their dietary needs; for instance, reduction of carbohydrate intake. In fact, he recommended that as first aid on the journey of diabetes reversal or remission, a non-nutritive sweetener be used for tea. For type 1 diabetes, needs sugary snacks like candies can be taken when needed to avert the low blood sugar crisis. 

Myths about the progression of diabetes

Several people believe that once you have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, the condition keeps getting worse over time. 

Fact; No, it does not have to be this way says, David Cavan. It is evident that with healthy lifestyle changes when made early in the case of type-2 diabetes, reversal or remission can be achieved. 

And by diabetes remission, he referred to it as “achieving non-diabetic levels of glucose in the bloodstream for at least three months, without taking no diabetic medication” while reversal means “the process by which people can reverse the ‘diabetes process’ “.

However, this reversal or remission may not be the case as shown in a review by Sudhakaran and Shabaraya the cause of type 1 diabetes is not known yet. The study pointed out that it is triggered when the Auto-immune system of the body attacks itself. 

Diabetes is a disease of the rich; a myth.

Fact; No, diabetes is not a disease that affects only the rich. The fact is, with the advent of fast-food restaurants selling junk foods, in several low and middle-income countries, the use of phones with online games, and online shopping applications encourages a sedentary lifestyle; there is an elevated risk for people in developing type 2 diabetes mellitus as pointed out David Cavan. The key is to stick to or adopt a healthy eating habit comprising of whole foods instead of junk and exercise lifestyle. 

FAQ on diabetes

Can diabetes be caused by a scare?

There are three major types of diabetes exist namely;

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when an autoimmune reaction negatively affects the pancreatic beta cells and results in insufficient insulin production in the body. The symptoms associated with type-1 diabetes often develop faster than with type 2 diabetes- frequent urination, thirst, extreme hunger pangs, sudden and unintentional weight loss, and blurred vision. It is commonly diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults-although, it could happen at any age.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces insufficient insulin. However, symptoms of type 2 diabetes take more time to manifest.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy but usually stops after delivery. Here, the blood sugar level increases above normal for a person who was not diabetic before.

Can diabetics live longer?

  • Yes, diabetics can live longer. It is evident that people can achieve remission and reversal with type 2 diabetes with proper lifestyle changes that can inhibit those metabolic abnormalities that encourage the diabetic process. Some of the lifestyle changes include; maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, regular health checks, being physically active, etc.

Why is diabetes not curable?

  • Type 1 diabetes is not curable but can be maintained. However, individuals diagnosed with this disease usually depend on the daily administration of insulin due to insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas. For type 2 diabetes, remission can be achieved with a healthy lifestyle change and regular health checks. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after child delivery.

Does stress spike blood sugar?

  • Yes, stress is one of the contributing factors to high blood sugar in diabetics. Diabetic patients should try as much as possible to avoid situations that may lead to stress. Maintaining blood sugar to a healthy level delays long-term or even prevents diabetes complications like heart or kidney failure and loss of vision.

Why do diabetics get depressed?

  • Studies have shown that higher rates of diabetic complications like dementia increase the risk of depression in diabetic patients. Poor glucose management in diabetes leads to long-term health complications. In other words, to live an improved life, diabetics should adopt good glucose management and regular health checks.

Can you live 40 years with diabetes?

  • Yes, with a proper management process that reduces metabolic abnormalities in diabetic patients. Also, it is evident that the presence of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in some people diagnosed with type 1 diabetic patients has been linked with their longevity.

What is the longest a diabetic has lived?

  • A diabetic patient can live up to old age provided there is proper self-management with health check-ups by health care providers which may be done annually. While on the course of this check-up, signs of impending long-term health complications if present can be treated. 

Why do diabetics feel tired?

  • Oftentimes, diabetic patients complain of feeling tired and this can be referred to as diabetic fatigue. This may be a result of low blood sugar also known as hypoglycemia. The symptom can be alleviated with the consumption of sugary foods like candies, chocolate, fruits, fruit juice, etc. 

References

Cavan, D. (2022). Bursting the Diabetes Myth: The Natural Way to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes. Atlantic Books. Retrieved from: https://books.google.co.za/books?id=eAw4EAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_atb#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 2nd September 2022.

Distiller L. A. (2014). Why do some patients with type 1 diabetes live so long?. World journal of diabetes5(3), 282–287. https://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v5.i3.282. Accessed 2nd September 2022.

Norman Sartorius (2018) Depression and diabetes, Dialogues in ClinicalNeuroscience, 20:1, 47-52, DOI: 10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/nsartorius . Retrieved from;

https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2018.20.1/nsartorius. Accessed 31st August 2022.

Sudhakaran, S., Jha, A., & Shabaraya, A. R. A Review on Nonpharmacological Treatment of Diabetic Mellitus: Myth V/S Reality. dementia, 15, 16.. Retrieved from DOI: https://doi.org/10.52403/ijrr.20210708.2nd September 2022.

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