In today’s world, diabetes has become the most common disease. Diabetes is known to confer increased risk for infections. Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. There are a number of myths about diabetes that are all too commonly reported as facts. These misrepresentations of diabetes can sometimes be harmful and lead to an unfair stigma around the condition. Modern treatments for diabetes are mainly focused on how to decrease blood glucose level to the normal one. Dr Kalyan Kumar Gangopadhyay, Endocrinologist consultant, CMRI, talks about the myths and misconception starting from food habits to precautions. He explains that there is no special diet required for any diabetes patient rather one should focus on a ‘healthy diet’. Dr Gongopadhyay highlights sugar-free tablets and its consumption, and how sucralose can help people with diabetes. The most common myth about diabetes is that it is caused in people who tends to include a lot of sweet in their diet. It’s not surprising that people get confused about whether sugar causes diabetes. This confusion may come from the fact that when you eat food, it is converted into a sugar called glucose.
Glucose also called blood sugar, is a source of energy for the body. Insulin moves glucose from the blood into the cells so it can be used for energy. With diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin, or the body does not use insulin well, he said. As a result, the extra sugar stays in the blood, so the blood glucose (blood sugar) level increases. For people who do not have diabetes, the main problem with eating a lot of sugar and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is that it can make you overweight. And being overweight does increase your risk for diabetes, Dr Gongopadhyay said.
Many people have this misconception that insulin is a lifelong process, on this point Dr Gongopadhyay said, “there is no such requirement, people who have critical health conditions or going through any chronic disease, at that time we insist to give insulin to the patient”. Injection of insulin in vein could be effective to increase the uptake of blood glucose by cells such as adipocyte, muscle, and liver. Also, drugs that increase the sensitivity of the insulin receptor could reduce the blood glucose level. It is also effective to reduce the reabsorption of glucose by drugs which inhibit sodium-glucose cotransporter in renal tubular epithelial cells, he said.
Covid-19 has resulted in blood glucose levels shooting through the roof for having diabetes, “Diabetes does not raise the risk of getting Covid-19 but people with diabetes who get infected are at a higher risk of severe disease, complications and death. Wearing appropriate masks properly, social distancing, proper handwashing, avoiding crowds, the usual precautions for COVID applies to the patient with diabetes perhaps with even more attention to detail,” Dr Gongopadhyay said. There are no other special precautions. There is no clear evidence that extra vitamins, minerals or Hydroxychloroquine are needed to prevent Covid. A healthy diet including vegetables, fruits and daily exercise does naturally improve the body`s defences against all infections” added Dr Gongopadhyay. Anyone suffering from diabetes faces the risk of developing several diabetes complications. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk of developing diabetic complications becomes. However, keeping blood glucose levels well-controlled one can help to significantly slow down the damage. Patients with diabetes can focus on walking. One may split the time of walking into two or three times a day considering our busy schedule. Walking does not necessarily have to be outside but can be done in the terrace, veranda or inside the flat. A fixed routine helps in preventing swings of blood sugar.
Many patients have reported a deterioration of their blood sugar levels because of the stoppage of their daily walks. One thing to be certain of, it is a disease that complicates the quality of one’s life but awareness, early treatment and control management is crucial to reducing the complex condition. “The most important thing is to follow a healthy lifestyle and choose healthier food options with a low GI and which are high in fibre. Remember to exercise regularly and quit smoking if you haven’t already” says Dr Gangopadhyay.