Here are some common myths concerning Diabetes. Feel free to add to the list!
Myth: As far as diseases go, Diabetes isn’t that serious!
Fact: Diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Having this disease also nearly doubles the chances that you’ll have a heart attack. However, with good control, you can reduce the risks for any complications. As with many other serious diseases, much of the death rate resulting from diabetes is directly caused by diabetes complications rather than by the disease itself.
Myth: If you’re overweight/obese, you’ll end up with 2 diabetes.
Fact: Although being overweight is, indeed, a risk factor, it’s not the only risk factor. Other factors such sa family history, age and ethnicity also play a role. There are plenty of people of normal weight or only slightly overweight who develop Type 2 Diabetes. There are also plenty of overweight people who never develop Type 2. It’s important to focus on all risk factors when considering likelihood of developing Type 2.
Myth: You can’t be a Type 1/must be a Type 2 diabetic if you’re an adult/ overweight.
Fact: Type 1 is defined as an autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells. The number of adults being diagnosed as Type 1 has been increasing. The incidence of T1D in adults is lower than in children, and it is estimated that approximately a quarter of persons with T1D are diagnosed as adults. Weight is not a determining factor when differentiating between Type 1 and 2.
Myth: Intake of too much sugar is what causes Diabetes.
Fact: If only the answer were this simple. Although scientists are still in the discovery phase for what exactly causes Type 1, it is believed that this diabetes is either genetically inherited, caused by environmental factors, results from the bodies own reaction to some previous illness, or other unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; Type 2 Diabetes is both genetically inherited and also from lifestyle decisions.
Research has proven, however, that drinking drinks high in sugar content, is linked to type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people avoid drinking sugar-sweetened beverages to help thwart diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages include beverages like sodas, fruit energy and sport drinks, sweet tea, and any drink high in sugar content. These drinks are high in calories and will usually cause a blood glucose spike.
Myth: Diabetics should eat diabetic food.
Fact: Eating a well-balanced meal is vital for anyone, diabetic or not. A healthy meal can be recognized if it meets the following criteria:
- low in saturated or trans fat
- low to moderate in sodium and sugar
- lean protein
- non-starchy vegetables
- whole grains
- healthy fats
Special “diabetic food” offers no special benefit. A diabetic’s blood glucose level will still rise just as with normal foods, and usually these niche market foods are more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.
Myth: Diabetics should only eat small amounts of starchy foods such as breads, potatoes and pastas.
Fact: Portion size is the key to these types of foods. Although starches are part of a healthy meal plan, too much of these foods are not good for anyone, but especially for someone with diabetes. Foods such as whole grain breads, pasta, cereal as well as starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas, corn and yams, in moderation, and appropriately dosed with insulin (if you are on insulin), can be a part of a diabetic’s regular diet.
Myth: People with diabetes cannot eat chocolate or other sweet foods.
Fact: Diabetics can eat anything in moderation. If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan and combined with proper exercise and proper insulin dosage (if you are on insulin), there is nothing wrong with any food, including chocolates and other sweet foods. There is no such thing as an “off limit” food where diabetics are concerned. They key, however, is moderation. On the other hand, some diabetics may decide, for the purpose of making blood glucose control easier, to follow tight diet requirements with heavy restrictions on carbohydrates. The diet to follow is a decision to be made by each diabetic - it is not imposed by diabetes.
Myth: A diabetic must follow a strict, no sweets, no salt and no fat diet
FACT: Absolutely not! If you are diagnosed as a diabetic, will you need to make some changes to your dietary choices? That depends upon your diagnosis, your blood glucose targets, your physician’s orders, your food preferences, etc.
An insulin-dependent Type 1 diabetic may not need to modify his diet at all as he can cover his food choices with insulin. A non-insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic, who is managing her blood glucose level with diet and exercise and/or non-insulin medications only, might choose to “eat to her meter.” This means setting a target postmeal blood glucose level and testing before and after meals to reach those targets. A Type 2 diabetic may find that she can have a salad with grilled chicken breast and remain below her threshold. Or she may find that if she adds croutons to that salad, she exceeds her threshold. On the other hand, she might also discover that she can top her salad with croutons if she goes for a stroll after her meal.
There are well-controlled diabetics who prefer an “everything in moderation” diet. Others prefer low fat, still others low carb. The choice is up to you. It’s your diabetes.
Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.
Fact: False. Diabetes is not “contageous”. Although science is not sure of the exact root cause of diabetes, it is clear that is is not something that can be passed around like the flu or a common cold.
Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.
Fact: Diabetics aren’t any more likely to get sick than their non-diabetic counterparts. However, it is recommended that diabetes obtain their annual flu shots because ANY illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop other serious medical complications.
At the same time, diabetics are more likely to be subject to other autoimmune diseases. There are medicines indicated for some such diseases that may cause such illnesses as a flu or a cold to be much more compromising.
Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.
Fact: False. The natural course of events for most type 2 diabetes is that, when newly diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes are able to keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications alone. However, over time the pancreas gradually produces less and less of its own insulin. It is for this reason that eventually oral medications aren’t enough to keep blood glucose levels in the normal range. Being asked by a doctor to begin an insulin regimen to keep good BG levels is a good thing, not a bad one. And being asked to go on insulin isn’t a suggestion that you are somehow derelict in your personal duties and responsibilities.
Myth: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.
Fact: Fruits are considered healthy foods. They do contain fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. However, because fruits also contain carbohydrates (which diabetics are primarily concerned with), the consumption frequency and the amount eaten should be discussed with your dietitian, and they should be appropriately dosed with insulin (if you are on insulin).
Myth: It’s possible to reverse (be cured of) diabetes.
Fact: Through diet and exercise, some people with Type 2 diabetes may sufficiently reduce their A1c so that they no longer experience the overt symptoms of diabetes. While they may be said to have “reversed” the symptoms of the disease, they still have diabetes and need to continue to monitor their blood sugar.
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