6 Common Diabetes Myths Debunked
Most people assume that when you eat too much sugar, you somehow develop diabetes. While it is true that diet can influence your blood sugar level, it won’t cause you to have diabetes overnight.
Diabetes is a global problem. There are about 422 million people who have diabetes worldwide, mostly living in low and middle-income countries. Moreover, studies show that there’s been a steady increase in the number of people with diabetes over the years.
Despite the growing number, there are still a lot of misconceptions on what causes it. There’s a lot of content you can find about diabetes online. However, most of it are practices that are based on myths or beliefs that have no medical basis.
Diabetes is a serious, chronic metabolic disease that is characterized by an increase in the blood sugar levels and associated with failure of organ functions, such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. Needless to say, mismanagement can cause long term damage to the body and overall well being.
If you have diabetes or know of anyone who has it, it’s highly critical that you equip yourself with proper knowledge so that you can distinguish mere myths from actual facts, and take better care for yourself or loved ones. To start, here are 6 myths and the truths around them.
- Only the Obese and Overweight Develop Diabetes
Being overweight is a risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes. But it’s only one out of the several factors to consider. A person’s age, family history, and ethnic background are variables that may also increase the likelihood of developing diabetes. So even if you are leaner or have average weight, you are not exempted. Besides, if you have Type 1 Diabetes, your lifestyle choice has nothing to do with it.
- Eating Too Much Sugar Can Result in Diabetes
This is a common misconception. Many believe that by eating too much sugar, you are susceptible to suffer from diabetes. While diet can influence your blood sugar, it doesn’t turn you into a diabetic right away. As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that may put you at risk. These factors are not solely related to your lifestyle choice.
To understand this better, it’s important to know the different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational (during pregnancy).
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system suddenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is often diagnosed in the early years - children, teens and young adults. As it is an autoimmune disorder, diet has no role in it.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells are unable to make enough insulin or when the produced insulin does not work properly.
On the other hand, Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women. It usually goes away after giving birth but may put the mother or the baby at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on.
The genetic component plays a huge role on whether or not there’s a high likelihood of you developing diabetes. To turn it into diabetes, it needs a trigger. For Type 1, no one knows what the trigger is. Type 2 and Gestational, lifestyle and diet are well known influencers (5)
- Diabetic People Need to Follow a Strict Diabetic Diet
There is no truth in what some people call a “special diabetic diet.”
Diabetic or not, we all should follow a healthy diet such as eating fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber, healthy protein, and wheat grains. And a diet that is moderate in sugar and salt and low in saturated fat.
Lean proteins, on the one hand, are what diabetics need. It is basically needed for energy and growth. Opt for lean meat instead of red meat, and of course, fresh over processed meats. You can always go for plant-based proteins.
Although a healthy diet is key to keeping diabetes health risks at bay, there are supplements that you can take to help you manage your condition.
- People with Diabetes Cannot Eat Chocolates and Anything Sweet
Do you know that sweets are part of a healthy meal? It can be included in a healthy diet plan but should be taken in portions. If you have type 2 diabetes, you may want to ask for a dietician to help you with your diet plan.
Although sugar is out of context when we are talking about type 1 diabetes, it gets more complex with type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that sugar isn't the sole culprit for developing diabetes, but too many sugary foods can cause obesity. If so, the potential of getting diabetes makes it possible. (4)
It is vital to have a healthy diet plan and cut back on free sugars which you can find in sodas, sweets, and juice drinks. Reading the food label will help you reduce and manage your sugar intake.
- Playing Sports Are Not Allowed for Diabetics
The notion that says, diabetic people cannot lead an active life is definitely false.
Studies have shown that regular physical activities are of great help in glucose control. Exercising helps the muscles take up and use the glucose without the help of insulin. It also helps in using the insulin better by increasing insulin sensitivity.
Exercise can also reduce the need for medication and helps maintain a healthy heart and healthy weight. At most, people with type 2 diabetes should make regular exercise part of their daily routine. (3)
- Diabetes is Not a Serious Condition
Truth be told, diabetes is a serious condition and it poses risks of serious long-term health implications. It is a chronic condition wherein type 1 diabetic patients are required to manage their blood glucose levels through insulin injections. While Type 2 diabetes patients need to take oral diabetic medications, insulin, and lifestyle changes. (1)
Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there is a potential risk of developing some serious complications such as nerve damage, heart disease, kidney failure, and vision loss. But the good news is that maintaining good diabetes control can reduce complication risks.
The Bottom Line
So that you can properly take care of yourself or your loved ones, it is necessary for you to distinguish myths from actual facts. Don’t just believe everything that you read online. Take your time in researching and validating facts from reputable sources. Feel free to check out the links below. If you have questions or have anything to share on this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team or leave a message in the comment section below.
Now that we have debunked some common myths about diabetes, let’s see if you can ace this quiz about diabetic diet questions.