Living with type 2 diabetes is confusing enough, and having to deal with the myths that surround this disease adds to the complexity in your understanding of its management.
It is important to be aware of the right information for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes with medications, lifestyle interventions, and healthy eating choices.
Well, Dr. YOU is here to bust some popular myths about type 2 diabetes with scientific facts and explanations.
Reason: Carbohydrates are essential macronutrients and are the main source of energy in your diet. They release glucose (a simple sugar) in the blood after digestion. Insulin is a hormone that helps all the cells of your body absorb glucose to produce energy. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance (the body cells become unresponsive to insulin), which leads to high blood glucose levels. But they should consume foods with the appropriate kind of carbohydrates — complex carbohydrates with low glycemic indices (whole grains, oats, and brown rice). These carbs are absorbed slowly into the blood and do not cause a rapid spike in insulin levels.
It is advised to strictly limit the intake of simple carbohydrates (like sugary drinks and desserts) that instantly spike blood glucose levels.
Reason: Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by persistent hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) caused by insulin resistance. A higher body weight is considered a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and its prevalence is higher among overweight people than among those who are lean. But it is not completely absent in people with normal body weights. Some other factors that can raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes irrespective of body weight are:
- Genetic predisposition — Certain genes that you inherit can make you more susceptible to this disease, even in the absence of all the other risk factors.
- Poor lifestyle choices — Excessive consumption of foods with a high glycemic index and lack of physical activity raise insulin resistance.
- Visceral fat — It is a type of abdominal fat (metabolically active fat that is also found in people with normal body weights) that collects around organs like the liver, pancreas, and intestines. It releases certain chemicals that induce insulin resistance and diabetes.
Reason: Not all people with diabetes are insulin-dependent. It is usually those with type 1 diabetes that are completely dependent on insulin because their immune systems destroy the insulin-producing cells of their pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance, where the cells of the body stop responding to insulin properly. In this stage, type 2 diabetes is managed with lifestyle interventions like exercise and dietary restrictions, as well as medications that help lower glucose production. But there may be a point when the pancreas eventually fails in trying to keep up with the added demand of producing more insulin. In this stage, it becomes essential to take insulin externally. Complete insulin dependence is avoidable if blood glucose levels are successfully maintained.
Reason: In people with type 2 diabetes, taking insulin or other glucose-lowering drugs can sometimes cause blood glucose levels to dramatically drop (hypoglycemia). It is important to keep a check on blood glucose levels before doing any physical activity to prevent such an occurrence. It is best to consult your doctor before adopting any exercise routine, and you should always start with low- or moderate-intensity exercise. But exercise should not be completely avoided by people with diabetes, as aerobic exercises and strength training have been shown to have positive health impacts.
Remember, the only person who can keep YOU the healthiest is YOU!