Myth 1: Diabetes is caused when a person consumes too much sugary food and soft drinks
The cause of Diabetes goes beyond the consumption of sugary meals.
Diabetes is caused by a combination of hereditary (inherited) and lifestyle factors.
Let me break it down
Diabetes, presently incurable, is a disease condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose (smallest form of sugar) well. A large portion of the food we eat is converted to glucose which is the main source of energy needed to fuel the body’s functions.
Glucose leaves our intestine and enters in the blood. From the blood, it is moved to the body cells where it is needed to produce energy or stored up for later use.
The substance (hormone) in the body that helps to move glucose from the blood to the cells is called INSULIN.
Insulin works like a key that opens the doors on the cells to allow glucose in. Without Insulin, glucose cannot enter the cells, so it stays in the blood.
Insulin is produced by an organ in the body called PANCREAS.
In some individuals, this insulin (the Key) is not produced at all or produced in insufficient amount due to some abnormalities in the genes of the persons. Hence the doors on the cells cannot be opened for glucose to enter. This is called Type 1 Diabetes which commonly affects Children and Teenagers.
In some other individuals, Insulin (the Key) is present, but the Key holes (called Receptors) on the cells are faulty, so they don’t respond when Insulin tries to open them to allow glucose in.
This is called Type 2 Diabetes which commonly affects adults.
As a result of inability of glucose to enter the cells in these individuals, glucose level in the blood becomes higher than normal and can continue to rise if nothing is done.
High levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and low levels of glucose (sugar) in the cells are the causes of all the problems that Diabetes cause.
From what we have discussed above, it is obvious that eating a lot of sugar is not the main cause of Diabetes.
However, Diabetics (people who have diabetes) have to be careful with what they eat since there is a problem with the process involved in the use of glucose.
Being overweight has been found to increase the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes and a diet high in sugar can contribute to weight gain. For this reason, it is generally advisable for everyone to carefully regulate their consumption of high calorie food (food that ultimately lead to high sugar in the body).
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Dr Oluwadamilola Opawale is a medical practitioner with interest in Public health and preventive medicine. She has had a stint of experience from the famous St. Nicholas hospital as a clinician.
She is also the President of IBuildAfrica Foundation, an NGO that reaches out to female adolescents, helping them maximize their potentials environment and background notwithstanding.
She has a passion to teach people how to stay healthy by imbibing healthy lifestyle and choices.