Nearly 347 million people around the world, including 62 million Indians are estimated to be diabetic.bodytel/Flickr

Diabetes is a chronic condition caused by the inability of the body to produce enough insulin or its failure to use the hormone properly. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreatic beta cells that helps regulate blood sugar in the body.

In type 1 diabetes, pancreatic cells get destroyed by the immune system of the body. Type 1 diabetes needs daily insulin injections to survive, while in Type 2 diabetes, the body develops a resistance to insulin.

Nearly 347 million people around the world, including 62 million Indians are estimated to be diabetic. Similarly, about 280 million people in the world are affected with prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels cross the normal levels, but do not reach a point to be labelled as diabetes.

Following are some myths surrounding the disease and the facts provided by the American Diabetes Association:

Excess sugar intake causes diabetes

According to experts, rather than the sugar intake, it's the genetics and certain lifestyle factors which contribute to the start of diabetes. They said that any diet high in calories, including sugary drinks, can increase the risk of diabetes as it leads to obesity. Several studies in the past have found a direct link between obesity and diabetes.

Diabetes is Harmless

Research shows that when ignored and untreated, the chronic disease can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (strokes, heart attack) and damage the kidney, eye, nerve, foot, and even cause cancer. An estimate from the American Diabetes Association shows that diabetes kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined together.

Sweets are forbidden for Diabetics

There is no harm in eating limited amount of sweets while following a healthy lifestyle with exercise and healthy food.

Following are some other facts revealed by the experts:

  • Diabetes is not transmitted from one person to another.
  • Being diabetic does not increase the risk of cold or flu. However, the experts say that suffering from any illness can worsen diabetes.
  • There is no specialised food exclusively for diabetes and diabetics can eat anything that is healthy.

Here are the five lifestyle factors that help reduce the diabetes risk as provided by the National Institutes of Health:

  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Remain active
  • Abstain from smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight