Busting the Myths: 10 Diabetes Myths That Could Be Harmful

 Is diabetes a disease of obese people? Eating sweets leads to diabetes? Or is diabetes contagious? False opinions about this dangerous disease can do a lot of damage. Here are some common myths about diabetes that need to be forgotten.

Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases (mainly type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes ) in which insulin does not function or secretion properly, causing an excess of glucose to build up in the blood. As a result, over time, the work of the whole organism is disturbed and many organs are damaged. Diabetes mellitus is an insidious disease (it can last a long time without symptoms) and a dangerous disease (it damages vital organs, including the heart).

photo: Adobe Stock, KaterynaNovikova


Unfortunately,  there are still many false beliefs about diabetes among people. They are often misleading, favoring the development of the disease, and also make diagnosis and treatment difficult.

MYTH 1: Lean people will not get diabetes

Experts say briefly, diabetes can get any of us . Its development is influenced by many elements: genetics, age, lifestyle.

Obesity is a risk factor for the development of diabetes, but there is one fact to remember : many people who are overweight will never have diabetes, and many people with diabetes have a healthy weight. Each of us is among the potential victims of this dangerous disease.


MYTH 2: Smoking cigarettes does not cause diabetes

Yet smoking is an important risk factor for diabetes. Smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop the disease than non-smokers, according to the US government's The Health Consequences of Smoking.

Why? There are at least several mechanisms. Smoking lowers insulin sensitivity. It promotes abdominal obesity, and it is also a known risk factor for diabetes. Smoking is related to its influence on the secretion of stress hormones. It causes  inflammation in the body and greater oxidative stress - these elements are involved in the development of insulin resistance and disturb glucose metabolism.

They also discovered nicotine receptors on the cells of the pancreas responsible for the production of insulin, which may inhibit insulin secretion. One study also noted that nicotine caused damage to the beta cells of the pancreas during fetal development .

MYTH 3: Insulin cures diabetes

Insulin does not cure diabetes. It is a drug that helps to reduce the symptoms of the disease , control blood glucose levels and prevent complications. Insulin is not taken by all people with diabetes. They are used by:

patients with type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes),

People with type 2 diabetes when oral antidiabetic medications or lifestyle modifications are not effective enough

women with gestational diabetes, if the diet did not improve glucose values,

people who are contraindicated with oral antidiabetic drugs.

MYTH 4: I have diabetes if my blood glucose test results in too much glucose

Testing blood taken from a finger with a blood glucose meter is primarily used to control blood glucose in people who have already been diagnosed with the disease. It is not used to diagnose disease.

To diagnose diabetes mellitus, other tests need to be done. The basic one is  fasting vein blood glucose testing . Normal glucose concentration is 3.9-5.5 mmol / l (70-99 mg / dl).


Another test is the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test ( OGTT ), which checks your fasting blood sugar level two hours after you drink the glucose solution. Normal blood sugar after consuming glucose is less than 7.8 mmol / L (140 mg / dL).


MYTH 5: Diabetes is an incurable disease

In fact, diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. However, there is a method that can completely eliminate the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. It is a pancreas transplant. However, it is a very invasive, dangerous procedure, with a high risk of complications and requiring permanent use of immunosuppressive drugs. Therefore, it is rarely used. Regular checkups and adherence to medical recommendations allow you to live with diabetes for many years and prevent complications of this disease.

Some people with type 2 diabetes have also managed to lead to a situation where their doses can be reduced or stopped altogether . This effect can be achieved in some patients by reducing body weight, increasing physical activity and diet, which improves the effect of insulin and the sensitivity of tissues to this hormone.


It is also worth adding that work is underway on various solutions that could eliminate diabetes, including over the diabetes vaccine .


MYTH 6: You cannot eat sweets with diabetes

You can, but ... in small amounts and occasionally. Consuming excess sugar is actually conducive to the development of type 2 diabetes, and diet is a very important part of treating the disease. However, it is not true that after diagnosis, we are completely prohibited from petty sweet pleasures.

Diabetes societies allow snacks with added sugar if they are eaten sporadically and are part of a healthy meal plan (preferably created with the help of a dietitian). 


MYTH 7: Diabetes can be cured with herbs

There are no reliable studies that confirm the effectiveness of herbs in the treatment of diabetes. However, there are studies that show that certain herbs help control blood glucose levels and may be useful for people with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance .


Herbs recommended in antidiabetic therapy are mainly:


aloe,

cinnamon,

ginger,

milk thistle,

fenugreek.


However, many doctors are skeptical about the use of herbs in the treatment of diabetes and especially advise against combining them with medications. Herbs can interact, including with insulin and lead to dangerous hypoglycaemia , i.e. an excessive drop in blood glucose levels that may lead to coma.


MYTH 8: You can catch diabetes

Not. Diabetes mellitus is a non-communicable disease . And while the exact mechanisms of its formation are not known, it is certain that diabetes cannot be passed from person to person, such as a cold.


Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which its own antibodies attack the beta cells of the pancreas, inhibiting insulin secretion. On the other hand, in type 2 diabetes, the cause is the coexistence of genetic predisposition (determining the malfunction of pancreatic beta cells, and thus abnormal insulin secretion) with environmental factors such as improper diet, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle or smoking.

MYTH 9: Eating lots of sugar causes diabetes

Yes, excess sugar promotes diabetes, but genes and lifestyle also affect the development of the disease. It turns out that the love of salty foods also increases the risk .


Scientists from the Swedish Karolinska Institutet have found that people who consume 2.5 grams of salt more per day have a 43% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A diet rich in trans fats also contributes to diabetes . So, let's be careful not only with sweets.

MYTH 10: Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes

There is definitely no mild form of diabetes. Any form of the disease without treatment can lead to organ damage and death. The risk of serious complications is lower thanks to  careful glycemic control and compliance with medical recommendations.



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