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Facts about diabetes that aren't so common

India has the second-highest population in the world, with more than 1.4 billion people. According to the International Diabetes Federation, more than 73 million adults in India had diabetes in 2017 compared to 40 million cases in 2007. Most of these are of type 2 diabetes, which occurs due to the decreased ability of the pancreas to synthesize insulin or insulin resistance development in our body. 

Although type 2 diabetes develops in people over age 45, it has become more prevalent among children and young adults over the last few years. The continuous high blood glucose levels in our body can cause other serious health ailments, such as vision loss, heart disease, nerve damage, slow healing, skin conditions, and kidney diseases.

Why is India witnessing this surge in diabetes?

Like other developed nations, we are also changing our lifestyles. Our affinity toward refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and processed foods is no longer a secret. This change in dietary habits with a less active, sedentary lifestyle has made us more susceptible to diabetes. Also, our modern living has become extremely stressful. These are possible reasons for the exposure increase in a number of diabetes patients.

Many of us are aware of the causes, symptoms, and management of diabetes. But a few are surprising yet evident facts about this condition that you may never have realized. 

Fact 1:

Diabetes is not only about sugar

Excessive consumption of sugar, carbonated beverages, or processed food does make you susceptible to type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiac disease, and other medical conditions. But having too much sugar can never be the principal cause of diabetes. But the relationship between sugar and diabetes is quite complex.

Type 2, the most common form of diabetes, occurs when your body develops insulin resistance. As time passes, the body cannot synthesize enough insulin to maintain blood sugar levels.

A family history of diabetes, obesity (excessive body weight), and a sedentary lifestyle are the main risk factors for this type of diabetes. Excessive consumption of a sugary diet can make you overweight, thus increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes usually develops in children. It is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas cannot synthesize insulin. It causes insulin deficiency in the body, causing a high glucose level in the blood. Though type 1 diabetes patients should be wary of their total sugar consumption, sugar is never a cause of type 1 diabetes. 

Fact 2

You can have diabetes and consume sweets too. 

Gorging on sweets may not be advisable for diabetes, but a planned consumption of sweets is feasible. The biggest myth associated with diabetes is that these people cannot have sweets for a lifetime. If you are a mindful eater and planned thoroughly about your meals, you can have sweets. Sweets contain carbohydrates, known to increase our blood glucose levels. If you are maintaining a diet chart, you can moderate the carbohydrate intake by reducing other sources and replacing them with sweets. 

Next time you can have one chapatti less and have your favorite sweet. A common notion is substituting sugar with artificial sugars means zero carbohydrate intake. This sugar may contain sugar-alcohol that can increase blood glucose levels. Always try to understand the food label. It will help in your carbohydrate counting.

Cocktails, wine, and beer can also interfere with your carbohydrate balance. If you take them, account for their amount in your meal planner. 


Fact 3

Gestational diabetes does not cause diabetes in your baby.

Gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy is one of the common Endocrine disorder during pregnancy. According to a few reports, about 9% of pregnant women develop insulin resistance. It is also common in those pregnant women who do not have any history of diabetes. During pregnancy, your pancreas works overtime. But still, it may not be enough, thus causing gestational diabetes. But gestational diabetes does not cause diabetes in your child. But taking precautions is necessary. High blood sugar in a pregnant woman can cause the unborn baby's pancreas to work hard and produce more insulin. It may make your baby susceptible to high-birth weight, low blood glucose, and breathing problems. High birth weight can translate into obesity and type 2 diabetes in later life. 

For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after delivery. But, monitoring blood sugar levels daily, a healthy diet, and strategic physical activity may help control the condition. If blood sugar level remains high, then medical attention becomes mandatory.

Fact 4

Diabetes can make you emotional.

Diabetes can make you depressed or anxious. People with diabetes are twice more susceptible to developing depression than non-diabetic people. It is difficult to go for a regular blood test, have a controlled diet, and take medicine or insulin shots daily. One cannot deny the existence of diabetes in life. Even after taking all the precautions, your blood sugar level always cannot be what you want. The negative emotions can become a barrier to good self-care. Better control of these emotions would translate into better control over your diabetes. 

Fact 5

Adjustment with diabetes takes time. 

If you are recently diagnosed with diabetes, remember adjustment will take time. You may need to prick your finger or self-administer insulin, which can be psychologically toiling. A controlled lifestyle (limitation on what you eat, how much you eat, and how much you exercise) is not easy to implement suddenly. It is your patience that will take you through this phase. 

Diabetes is a progressive medical condition, and managing it is a lifelong effort requiring regular control of medication and lifestyle. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a lot of complications. But small steps can make a big difference. 

After all, managing diabetes is not just science but also an art. 


Dr. Jyoti Sehgal
Meet The Doctor
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