Diabetes: Five common misconceptions debunked!

The 21st century has seen a monumental surge in the number of people living with Diabetes (Mellitus). This chronic condition is defined by high blood glucose, which if not well-controlled can lead to damaging effects on the body.

There are several variants, with the most common being type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Here are 5 popular myths about diabetes and what the facts say:

Myth 1- Eating a lot of sugar causes diabetes

Fact: Eating a lot of sugar does not cause diabetes. Rather, high sugar intake results in being overweight. And this in turn increases the risk of developing diabetes.

A person develops diabetes when there are insufficient amounts or ineffective usage of insulin, the hormone which regulates blood glucose.

Myth 2: Only overweight people get type 2 diabetes

Fact: Being overweight does increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. However, the disease can affect anyone regardless of weight.

Growing old, having family members with diabetes, being physically inactive and having high blood pressure are all factors which also increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Myth 3: People with diabetes must follow a sugar- free diet

Fact: It is essential that people living with diabetes eat a diet which is balanced, and this can include some sugar in moderation.

Although it is not wise for diabetics to consume meals with high sugar content every day, it is okay to have a small serving of sweet treats occasionally in an otherwise healthy eating plan.

Myth 4: You cannot exercise when you develop diabetes

Fact: Engaging in exercise can help improve glucose (and thus diabetes) control. The opposite holds; having a sedentary lifestyle is likely to exacerbate the condition.

Notwithstanding, having diabetes and some conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease) can preclude engaging in rigorous activity. Therefore, it is prudent for diabetics to consult their healthcare providers on devising an appropriate exercise regimen.

Myth 5: A person with diabetes invariably loses a limb or goes blind

Fact: Not all people with diabetes go blind or lose a limb. Whiles diabetes can cause serious damage to the eyes, feet and other parts of the body, the risk is reduced drastically by early detection and treatment.

So diabetics need to continue with their healthcare provider’s treatment plan. It helps!

The authors are medical students at the KNUST School of Medicine and Dentistry. They are also members of the KNUST Medical Students Association.

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