Whether you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, are at risk, or are simply interested in how to prevent it, the reality is that there is a lot of confusion and unreliable information about this disease.
A lot of things have been either distorted or oversimplified, and this has led to quite a few myths appearing and spreading throughout the population, even with cases nearly doubling in the last two decades.
Of course, being well informed about how to really treat or prevent this common illness is really important to keeping it under control and living a normal life.
After all, taking it seriously could really save your life since diabetes is known to increase your risk of heart disease exponentially.
With that being said, let’s explore some of the most common myths about diabetes and see if they have any truth attached to them or not!
One common myth that many people with type 1 diabetes tend to have is that they will not qualify for life insurance. Matt Schmidt, a Diabetes Life Insurance Advisor mentions “For some unknow reason, several people with type 1 diabetes think they cannot qualify for life insurance coverage. In reality, life insurance for type 1 diabetes is easy to qualify for, and the rates are actually at all time lows.”
Does consuming sugar in excess really cause diabetes?
We have all heard this at least once in our lives, but is it really true? Actually, no.
The reality is that sugar intake has nothing to do with the disease. What does, however, is your weight, to which sugar, could, of course, contribute depending on the person and their diet.
The managing director of medical information at the American Diabetes Association, Matt Petersen, says: “But keep in mind that fat has twice as many calories as sugar.”
One of the main culprits is red meat so it’s obviously recommended you avoid it as much as possible, especially if you are already at risk.
As per Christine Lee, M.D., from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, to lower your calorie intake, you should consume foods rich in nutrients such as whole grains, vegetables of all kinds, as well as low-fat protein and dairy.
Of course, that’s not to say that you should give up on spoiling yourself from time to time. Everything is alright in moderation.
And if you have a sweet tooth, you could also replace most sweets with foods that contain naturally occurring sugar.
Another myth that you might’ve heard and believe is that you can only get type 1 diabetes in the early years of your life and not as an adult.
In the past, type 1 was also known as “juvenile diabetes,” which is why so many are convinced it only occurs in children.
However, that term is not used anymore for a very good reason!
Petersen explains that, regardless of your age, you could still get it.
About five percent of American adults are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes but in reality, there could be more since sometimes, people get misdiagnosed with the much more common type 2.
Pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Sara Pinney, M.D., explained the differences between the two types of diabetes, saying that type 1 is when “the body attacks your pancreatic beta cells by mistake, this causing them to stop making insulin,” – the hormone that lowers glucose levels in the blood.
As for type 2, the pancreas continues to make insulin, but the problem is that the body fails to properly respond to it.
So, those with type 1 have to take insulin in order to normalize their blood sugar.
This is really important as without it the patients will get really sick.
With that being said, a widely spread myth is that those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also need insulin.
In reality, they don’t – at least not a lot of them! Most people are actually able to keep their diabetes in check by just living a healthy life filled with exercise and a balanced diet.
Taking oral medication can also be efficient as well as a combination of both!
Only about 40 percent of patients who have type 2 diabetes take insulin, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Keep in mind that, whether you need it or not can change with age.
Petersen states that “Eventually, to keep your blood glucose levels in a healthy range, you might need to use it. And that’s OK. It’s just that your disease has progressed and now you’re taking the best step to manage it.”
Another myth is that you’d be able to tell if you have diabetes.
The truth is that it might take months and sometimes even years for symptoms to get bad enough for people to take them seriously and start suspecting something is wrong, especially in the case of type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Pinney explains that this is because the most common signs are increased thirst and urination, both easy to overlook as just part of getting on in years.
The more concerning symptoms that usually tend to send people to the hospital are tingling in their extremities and blurry vision, and they appear at a point where the blood sugars have been at a high level for a really long time already.
Furthermore, around 24% of people go undiagnosed, so medical specialists usually advise anyone at risk to have their A1C tested often and this includes everyone that is 45 and older as well as everyone who is overweight or has a family history of diabetes.
This test is done by simply drawing some blood that can then be analyzed and give you a snapshot of blood glucose levels in the last three months.
Finally, many people still think that doctors tell patients to exercise more just so that they lose weight.
However, rest assured that your doctor is most likely not trying to body shame you since there is a real correlation between exercising and increasing insulin sensitivity which then lowers your blood glucose.
Being more active is really good for you regardless of whether you actually drop the pounds or not.
Studies show that just one workout session can increase your insulin sensitivity by up to 50 percent for no less than 72 hours!
In other words, your weight can stay exactly the same, and your A1C will still be lowered along with your chances of actually developing diabetes if you are at risk.
The explanation is that muscles need glucose when they are active, so they will use it for energy without the need for insulin.
“Exercise is a miracle treatment in its own way,” Petersen says about this.