Diabetes mellitus is a very widespread disease today, but even then very little people have the right information on it. The reason behind the various misconceptions behind diabetes mellitus is the lack of proper knowledge on the subject. This article tries to dispel the various myths that are associated with diabetes mellitus.
What Diabetes Mellitus IS NOT
Contrary to popular belief, diabetes mellitus is not a dietary disease, and nor is it caused by eating sugar excessively. These are just old wives’ tales about the disease. At the same time, it must be pointed out that diabetes mellitus is not a lifestyle disease. It does not happen if you binge on too much food or too much drink. It does not happen if you lead a sedentary lifestyle without exercise.
Though the following points are ruled out as being causative factors of diabetes mellitus, their role in aggravating the condition cannot be ruled out. Meaning to say, if a person consumes a rich diet full of calories and leads a sedentary lifestyle, then the chances of diabetes mellitus are increased, but in no way are these factors solely responsible for the onset of diabetes mellitus.
What Diabetes Mellitus IS
Diabetes mellitus is not a dietary disease, it is not a lifestyle disease; but diabetes mellitus is definitely a metabolic disease. It is caused due to malfunctioning within the body. Let us understand this further.
The pancreas gland situated below the liver contains a special type of cells called as the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans. These cells are responsible for the secretion of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that looks after the proper utilization of sugars within the body. If insulin is lacking in amount, then the sugars are retained in the blood. This causes diabetes mellitus.
Common Myths about Diabetes Mellitus
Now that we know how diabetes mellitus is caused, we are in a better position to dispel some of the common myths of diabetes mellitus.
Myth 1: Diabetes mellitus is influenced only on the overall sugar intake.
This is as far from the truth as anything. Though diabetes mellitus is hyperglycemia, i.e. excess of sugars in the blood, it is not dependent only on the sugar intake. The total amount of fats consumed also plays an important role. Fats collect in the blood and cause diabetes mellitus.
Myth 2: Diabetes mellitus means no sugar throughout life.
Of course not! Sugars are very important to the body as they give the body the necessary energy to perform its several tasks. Hence, doing away with sugar is inviting more problems for the body. Instead of avoiding sugar completely, it must be moderated. Ensure that the sugar is a part of a wholesome meal, and not eaten just for the sake of getting a sweet taste. So, while the confectionaries and candies are definitely out, wholesome fruits containing sugar can be certainly consumed.
Myth 3: Diabetes mellitus can be cured with a diet.
This is another huge misconception. No diet can cure diabetes mellitus. For that matter, diabetes mellitus cannot even be controlled with a diet. The most a diet can do is to keep the blood sugar level in a healthy state. Nothing more than that! In order to effectively control diabetes mellitus, you will need to couple the dietary restriction with enough exercise, an active lifestyle and, of course, the right kind of medication.
Myth 4: Diabetes mellitus patients must not consume fruits and most vegetables.
This is partly true. Some fruits contain a very high sugar content, while some vegetables are rich in all kinds of carbohydrates. It is not advisable to have carbohydrate rich food such as corn, potatoes and peas. Green leafy vegetables can be consumed without any problem since they are rich in both vitamins of the B complex and in vitamin C, which have a calorie-reducing effect on the body. Avocados must be avoided since they too are rich in calories and carbohydrates. However, citrus fruits are okay. A diabetes mellitus patient can safely have two fruits in a day without any problems. Hence, while it is not necessary to cut down on the total food intake, it is very necessary to go in moderation.
Myth 5: Aspirin must be totally avoided during diabetes mellitus.
Many diabetic people tend to stay away from it. However, a recent recommendation by the American Diabetic Association (ADA) suggests that people with diabetes mellitus must take an aspirin a day. This reduces their chances of having heart attacks later on. The advantage of taking aspirin is that it reduces the clotting within the arteries and prevents the possibility of cardiovascular diseases. But, there will be a serious problem if the patient overdoses on aspirin. Aspirin can reduce the capacity of healing of wounds, and make the skin sensitive to bruises. Also, aspirin must be strictly avoided by children because it can give rise to a serious complication known as Reye’s Syndrome in them. Other conditions when aspirin must not be taken are in case of liver problems, allergic reactions to aspirin, stomach ulcers and if there is some other clot reducing medication, such as warfarin, already being taken.
Diabetes mellitus is a very chronic and distressing condition. However the myths that surround it make a diabetes patient’s life more complicated. It is always necessary to know fully well about the different aspects of the disease and to consult the physician.