(Debunking misconceptions around diabetes)

Surely you have heard of a common misconception that diabetes is a disease of those who have a sweet tooth. The sad truth is that a lot of people are unaware of the real causes and consequences of this devastating disease and the challenges faced by those with the illness. Too many questions are still lingering in the air for both patients and their loved ones, people who care. Holistic management of the disease and sustainable lifestyle choices can significantly improve the quality of life even for people with severe chronic conditions like diabetes. 

Let’s dissect the potential causes of diabetes, how it affects hormones and how to help manage your life easier if you have been diagnosed.

The physiological surface of diabetes is the disruption in the activity of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is a crucial energy mediator in our bodies, which is responsible for breaking down carbohydrates. Insulin directly communicates with a dozen other hormones in our body, including sex hormones and cortisol. In reality, the pathology of diabetes is much more complex, where genetics and external stressors aka epigenetics play equally vital roles.1

Sometimes the onset of diabetes is barely visible. Symptoms are creeping into your life at a slow pace and it’s only when time has passed and you look back then you can see how much the quality of your life has deteriorated.  Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes and kidneys.1

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually has the nature of an autoimmune disease when the body destroys the healthy cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin. As a result, there is a lack of insulin in people with diabetes type 1 and it’s not linked to being overweight or having an excess of sweets and calories in your diet.1

Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s inability to respond to insulin also known as reduced insulin sensitivity. Basically, there is so much sugar in the blood all the time that cells stop taking it seriously and decide to ignore it. Too much is too much. Undoubtedly genetics influence it, but the prevailing role here plays lifestyle.1

Besides health issues, diabetes can be a social burden as well. More than half of patients report that they are being stigmatized for their diagnosis. They feel judged by others for causing their own diabetes through overeating, poor diet, inactivity, laziness, or being overweight.2

There is a strong link between diabetes and overall hormonal balance in the body. Naturally, the imbalance is caused by disruptions in insulin signalling. If a person strongly relies on injections of insulin to control blood sugar levels, glucose levels could fall too low, causing hypoglycemia.3

But diabetes can cause more profound disturbances in other biological cycles and systems. For instance, patients with diabetes have a higher prevalence of thyroid dysfunction.4 At the same time, a deficiency of thyroid hormones contributes to the fact that we can easily gain weight, which is a major driving force behind diabetes type 2.5

Diabetes is a severe health issue, but as with many chronic diseases, diet and lifestyle choices play a fundamental role on the path to long-term remission. Here are a few simple reminders to help yourself if you are unsure where to begin:

1. Be aware of the risks of becoming diabetic. They would be higher if you:

–  are older than 40
–  have a family history of diabetes
–  have excess weight
–  diet mainly consists of processed foods full of refined sugar, trans-fats and sodium
–  experience constant sugar spikes (read more on how to prevent  them here)
–  are a smoker
2. Balance your diet. Make sure you consume enough protein and vegetables and eat them in the right order (before carbs and sweets) with each meal to avoid huge glucose spikes.
3. Don’t avoid physical activities. 30 minutes 3-4 times a week are just fine. Start small – daily walks for short distances.
4. Notice the red flags. It’s time to check on your health if you:
–  feel exhausted all the time;
–  feel thirsty too often;
–  worried that wounds heal up too slowly.
5. Check up with an endocrinologist. Remember that preventative medicine and early diagnosis save lives.1




  1. Global Report on Diabetes, WHO Technical Document, 2016.
  2. Liu NF, Brown AS, Folias AE. Stigma in People With Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. Clin Diabetes. 2017;35(1):27-34.
  3. Nakhleh A, Shehadeh N. Hypoglycemia in diabetes: An update on pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention. World J Diabetes. 2021. 15;12(12):2036-2049.
  4. Elgazar E, Esheba N, Shalaby S, et al. Thyroid dysfunction prevalence and relation to glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews. 2019; 13 (4): 2513-2517.
  5. Scoville D, Kang HS, Jetten A. Transcription factor GLIS3: Critical roles in thyroid hormone biosynthesis, hypothyroidism, pancreatic beta cells and diabetes. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2020;107632.
Previous post
(Sustainable packaging for the health of your body and our planet)
Next post
(Stress and hormones: why do we experience stress and which hormones are to blame?)