Approximately 77 million Indians have diabetes, and it is estimated that nearly 57 per cent of adults with the disease go undiagnosed. Despite how common the condition is, there are still a lot of myths around it that lead to an inadequate or incorrect understanding of diabetes and how to treat it. It's crucial to gain a thorough awareness of these little-known facts so that persons with diabetes and those who care for them can have a better understanding of the chronic illness and how to best manage their health.
Hanish Gupta, Consultant Physician and Cardiologist, Life Aid Hospital, Delhi said, "Almost three-fourths of India's diabetes population have uncontrolled blood glucose levels, and half of them show poor blood pressure control. Further, at least one-third of them have increased cholesterol and lipids. Common reasons for these metabolic abnormalities include non-adherence to treatment, infrequent doctor visits and lack of awareness of long-term consequences of poorly managed diabetes."
Here are five common myths on diabetes de-bunked:
Sugar alone causes diabetes
Fact: Diabetes is a complex condition related to several factors. These include being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, having an unhealthy diet, and more. It can also be related to genetic factors, such as a family history of having diabetes. While people with diabetes are often advised to control their sugar intake, eating too much sugar alone does not cause diabetes.
However, still be mindful of your sugar consumption -- moderation is key. An overall diet high in sugar can mean higher calories, which can contribute to weight gain and consequently increase your risk of having diabetes. On the whole, try to opt for low glycemic index options and foods high in fibre as well, to achieve the right balance.
Diabetes can be cured
Fact: While in rare cases diabetes is reversible, in most cases, diabetes once developed, is a lifelong condition. But living with diabetes doesn't have to be scary. There are various ways to effectively manage the condition. With proper adherence to prescribed medication and dietary and lifestyle modifications, as well as monitoring of one's glucose levels, people with diabetes can live a full life. By discussing with a doctor what diabetes management approach works best in individual cases, people can achieve their target glucose range and achieve optimal health.
Diabetes only affects the body's blood sugar levels
Fact: Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar. However, diabetes can affect more than just glucose levels. Research suggests that the condition -- especially when uncontrolled -- can cause other related complications, such as increasing the risk of problems relating to the heart, eye, kidney, nerves, or feet. This makes managing diabetes in a timely manner even more important. It is also advisable for people with diabetes to get regular health check-ups and keep an eye on their broader health, to identify and address any problems promptly.
Some types of diabetes are milder than others
Fact: While diabetes has different categories, like type-1 and type-2 and gestational (while pregnant), these cannot be defined as mild or severe. Across all types of diabetes, uncontrolled cases can lead to serious, long-lasting complications. Despite this, people with diabetes can lead healthy, better lives with proper diabetes management, regardless of the type.
Diet and lifestyle changes alone can fully manage diabetes
Fact: While lowering the intake of certain foods that raise your blood glucose and adopting a healthy fitness routine are key steps to manage diabetes, this does not mean that only these steps will be adequate for all people with diabetes to fully manage their condition.
Abhijit Pednekar, Medical Affairs Director, Abbott India, commented, "Diabetes management is an ongoing process, which must be holistic and personalised. This involves adhering to dietary and lifestyle changes, prescribed medication, and regular glucose monitoring, which can collectively help individuals manage diabetes. By achieving better control over one's glucose levels, people can live healthier, fuller lives."
By understanding facts about the condition, it can make the care journey less complicated. Following medical guidance and working with doctors to understand what works best for individual situations is important, and it can empower people to better manage their diabetes.