Myths and Misconception about Diabetes Management

Dr SM Rajendran, M.D., FRCP (Glasgow)., D.Litt., Senior Physician & Diabetologist at Diha Clinic.


Q: Is it true that people get diabetes because they overeat sugar?
If we exceed the limit of anything, even nectar becomes poison. No single factor is responsible for diabetes. There are many factors, including lifestyle, diet and genes that cause the condition.

Consuming too much carbohydrates, for instance, can lead to diabetes since all the carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. A high-stress lifestyle, pesticides in our food, overuse of electronic devices, poor sleep patterns, all these things disturb the body system. When your body stops producing insulin or can no longer respond to the insulin it produces, you develop diabetes.


Q: Does that mean I should immediately start insulin therapy?
Not at all. People think that if they take insulin, their diabetes goes away. But insulin has side effects such as weight gain, headache and rashes. I feel that in most cases, managing lifestyle is a more effective solution.


Q: Can I consume diabetes-friendly and sugar-free foods freely?
That is all marketing. Sugar-free products can cause more complications in the body. Instead of sugar, they contain harmful chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic. Since diabetes is already tied to increased risk of cancer, it is better to avoid these products. Instead, eat whole, natural foods like fruits and vegetables.


Q: Is it true that I cannot exercise or play a sport if I am diabetic?
Not at all. We all need regular exercise to keep joints healthy and to maintain mobility. Moderate exercise, like walking or yoga, is suitable for people with diabetes because it improves insulin sensitivity. Just ensure that you do a heart health check before embarking on any exercise program. And whatever else you
do, please meditate daily and sleep a minimum of six to seven hours a day. 


Q: I checked my sugar levels last week and it was normal. I’ve decided to stop taking my medicine. Is that all right?

Please don’t do that. While it is an excellent sign that your sugar levels have stabilized, kindly visit your doctor before doing something so drastic. He / She will monitor and slowly reduce your dosage over time.


Q: I’m not overweight. Does that mean cannot get diabetes?
While being overweight does put you at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it is not the only factor. If you are exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms – loss of body weight, constant bathroom visits at night, increase in appetite, loss of libido, extreme exhaustion, tingling in the extremities—please visit your doctor, immediately.


Q: Should I stop driving because I have diabetes?
For the most part, you can continue to drive, but be cautious. Take care not to go into hyperglycaemia while driving. And, if you start feeling sweaty, sleepy or lightheaded pull over immediately. Always keep some sweets or snacks within easy reach. Also, ensure you go for regular eye check-ups to ensure that diabetes hasn’t
impacted your vision.


Q: Can a woman with diabetes get pregnant?
Yes, she can, but it does need a bit more planning since pregestational diabetes can cause complications. Ensure that blood glucose levels are under control before she conceives. Constant monitoring is necessary since pregnancy can be a stressful time. Eating right, exercising consistently, adjusting your medicines if required and maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is a must.


Q: I’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. I’m worried I am going to become diabetic.?
Don’t worry. This is does not mean that you will develop diabetes. While this is undoubtedly a serious wake-up call, you can reverse the condition by making necessary changes in your lifestyle: eating better, managing stress, sleeping better, exercising more and losing some weight. Do visit your healthcare professional forhelp and advice.