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Why do I have diabetes when I don’t eat sugar?

Dr Tejal Lathia answers this common diabetes query.

I do not consume sugar, why do I have diabetes? -- It is a very common question most specialists hear while attending to patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes. However, this is one of the biggest misconceptions about diabetes mellitus. Consumption of excessive sugar does not directly cause diabetes. It is a metabolic disorder that is caused by the lack of insulin hormone in the body. Dr Tejal Lathia, Consultant Endocrinologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi A Fortis Network Hospital explains in detail why a person can get diabetes even if he/she doesn't eat sugar. Also read can a person with no family history of diabetes get diabetes?

Diabetes and glucose: What's the connection?

The hormone insulin helps the body store excess sugar in the liver, muscles and fat. When the production of insulin is decreased, sugar cannot be stored in the body. This excess sugar remains in the blood and flows through the body causing damage, as it flows. Consumption of even small or normal quantities of carbohydrates is difficult for the body to handle. And carbohydrates doesn t just mean eating foods rich in simple sugars like juices, fruits and rice but also having carbohydrates in excess. This is further compounded by sedentary lifestyle or physical inactivity as not exercising means that the carbohydrates are not utilised by the body which further raises the blood glucose levels. Here are top 10 diabetes myths busted.

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Last but not the least, family history of diabetes mellitus means we already have a basic problem in the action of insulin in the body. So, on a background of insulin dysfunction, when excess carbohydrate and fat consumption is superimposed along with lack of exercise, the risk of suffering from diabetes is high. So if we want to beat diabetes, we need to understand that a balanced diet with an appropriate quantity of fat, protein and carbohydrate along with regular exercise is the basic need for diabetes management. Along with these basic changes, more often than not, medications to increase insulin production or improve its action are required to normalise blood sugar levels. Early screening and intensive lifestyle modifications in those who have a strong tendency of diabetes mellitus in the family will help prevent or delay diabetes in many patients. Also read Type 2 Diabetes can be cured in the near future, says Dr Pradeep Gadge.

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