Daily communication with patients shows that people have rooted misconceptions about the “sweet” disease. Sometimes even endocrinologists find it difficult to destroy the myths of their patients regarding this disease. This is partly due to the complexity of the disease, partly due to low awareness of people about diabetes. We will consider the 14 most common misconceptions about the disease and will try to eliminate some gaps in knowledge about diabetes.
Diabetes: Myths and Truths
Myth 1: Diabetes is a disease of our millennium.
Truth: The problem of high blood sugar is known since ancient times. There are 1 type and 2 type diabetes. Type 2 is one of the most common diseases. Not only high prevalence but also a steady increase in the number of patients gives the second type of disease a great social significance.
Myth 2: Thin people cannot have diabetes.
Truth: This is not entirely true; clarification is required: most likely, thin people cannot have type 2 diabetes mellitus, as it is most often associated with overweight. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is greatest with obesity, which is characterized by fat deposits in the abdominal area. But patients with the first type of disease, in contrast, are usually thin.
Myth 3: Diabetes mellitus is a rare hereditary disease.
Truth: Medicine has accumulated a sufficient number of facts proving the hereditary predisposition of diabetes. But not everything is so simple. If both parents are sick with diabetes mellitus of the first type, then the probability of the occurrence of this disease in their child is 7%. The risk increases if parents have type 2 diabetes mellitus, as adults will probably pass on to inherit factors leading to the development of the disease – a tendency to obesity, high blood pressure and impaired fat metabolism. Knowing this, you can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. It is necessary to eat properly, maintaining the level of physical exertion and normal weight, as well as monitor the state of blood pressure.
Myth 4: People with diabetes should eat special food for diabetics.
Truth: The statement is not true. The rules for creating a daily diet for a patient with diabetes mellitus are the same as for a healthy person: limiting fat intake, moderate intake of sugar and salt, adequate intake of vegetables, fruits, durum cereals, carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins. International experience shows that nutrition, based on special products for diabetics containing glucose substitutes (sucrose), does not have the expected effect.
Myth 5: A person with diabetes should avoid starch-rich foods, such as potatoes, pasta, bakery products, and eat more fruits.
Truth: It is not necessary to avoid such foods, a patient just needs to be more careful about making up his diet. The diabetic should reduce the amount of refined sugar, sweet confectionery, sweets. Pasta must be made from durum wheat, it is less harmful to the patient. Bread should be made of whole grains. It’s not recommended to eat fruits too often because many of them are rich in fructose (for example, apples), which raises blood sugar levels.
Myth 6: Honey is not glucose, it consists of fructose, so you can eat it in unlimited quantities, as well as sugar substitutes.
Truth: This is a false statement, honey consists of fructose and glucose in approximately equal proportions. The edible sugar molecule (sucrose) also consists of a fructose residue and a glucose residue. Honey is not only not an analog of a sweetener, but also has a sugar-enhancing effect, almost the same as that of sugar. Sweeteners should also be used in reasonable quantities.
Myth 7: The use of insulin in type 2 diabetes increases blood pressure, increases body weight and leads to the development of vascular atherosclerosis.
Truth: Modern clinical studies prove that insulin administration does not increase blood pressure and does not lead to the development of vascular atherosclerosis. It has been proven that the beneficial effect of blood glucose levels control far exceeds the negative effects of a possible increase in body weight.
Myth 8: Diabetes pills and insulin allow you to eat anything.
Truth: Unfortunately, none of the modern means for treating people with diabetes excludes three more very important components of successfully maintaining normal blood sugar levels: proper nutrition, adequate exercise and regular monitoring of sugar level. When starting a treatment, a competent doctor will prescribe not only “diabetes pills or insulin injections” to his patient, but will also send him to special training at a school for people with diabetes. A person with diabetes will develop a nutrition plan, in accordance with food preferences, traditions, his weight, the presence of concomitant pathologies. In addition, a competent doctor will recommend a suitable set of physical exercises (walking, swimming, aerobics, or something else). The patient should know about his illness almost as much as his doctor.
Myth 9: The longer the experience of diabetes, the better a person feels his sugar level.
Truth: The level of glucose in the blood cannot be felt. Indeed, the patient can recognize a greatly increased or significantly reduced sugar level, however, over time, the precursors of hyper- or hypoglycemia disappear, and critical conditions arise suddenly. Subjective sensations are very deceptive: for example, in the initial stages of insulin therapy, normal glucose levels will be perceived as low. The exact result can be guaranteed only by a modern blood glucose meter.
Myth 10: Measuring sugar in the urine avoids finger piercing and blood sugar determination.
Truth: This is not entirely true. The concentration of glucose in the urine depends on the amount of fluid consumed, and the result of the determination reflects the concentration of sugar in the blood during the period of accumulation of urine in the bladder, and not at the time of its measurement. In elderly people, the renal threshold of glycosuria is altered, so sugar in the urine may be absent even with severe glycemia.
Myth 11: A portable blood glucose meter is intended only for the determination of sugar on an empty stomach.
Truth: It’s a delusion. A very important indicator is postprandial glycemia (PPG) – blood glucose level 2 hours after the start of a meal. The level of BCPs depends on the following factors: meal, the duration of the meal, the amount of food, the composition of the products, absorbability of carbohydrates. Chronic hyperglycemia is a leading factor in the development of late complications of type 2 diabetes. The most pronounced fluctuations in glycemia in patients are observed precisely after a meal. It is proved that in most cases, PPG directly affects the development of atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction and mortality. In this regard, the postprandial glucose level (2 hours after the start of a meal) is included as an important indicator in international recommendations for the treatment of diabetes.
Myth 12: For a person with diabetes, it is enough to determine the level of morning blood sugar 1-2 times a week.
Truth: This mode is not justified, self-control should be carried out not only on an empty stomach but also 2 hours after eating. When the diagnosis is only made and with decompensation, it is necessary to determine the level of glycemia daily several times a day.
Myth 13: Diabetes is the end of an active life.
Truth: Of course, diabetes is a dangerous disease, it is caused by chronic hyperglycemia and glucosuria. However, with a responsible approach and compliance with doctor’s recommendations, this disease does not interfere with an active lifestyle. This is confirmed by the biographies of famous diabetics: jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, famous actresses Sharon Stone, etc. The conclusion suggests one thing: a responsible attitude to their health allows people with diabetes to lead an active lifestyle until old age.
Myth 14: Pregnancy and diabetes are incompatible.
Truth: This is not entirely correct. Of course, an unplanned pregnancy, especially with poorly compensated diabetes, is dangerous for both the mother and the child. During the first three weeks, during which the woman may not even be aware of the presence of pregnancy, all organs and systems of the fetus are being formed, so it is especially important that sugar be normal during this period. With perfect control of diabetes, no complications, observation during the entire pregnancy in a specialized center, a woman can give birth to a healthy baby without significant harm to her body.