Diabetes Mythbuster : Debunking 10 Common Myths and Facts about Diabetes
Diabetes, encompassing types such as type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, affects how the body utilizes glucose, the primary source of energy for cells. However, misconceptions surrounding diabetes often lead to confusion and stigma. Let’s delve into 10 common myths and facts about diabetes to dispel these misunderstandings.
Myth 1: Diabetes is caused by consuming too much sugar.
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: Diabetes doesn’t stem directly from sugar consumption. However, consuming a high-calorie diet, particularly with sugary drinks, can contribute to overweight and obesity, which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes¹². On the other hand, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, unrelated to nutrition or lifestyle factors.
What are some methods to eat less sugar?
Eliminate or minimise your consumption of processed sugars, such as those found in fruit juices, soft drinks, processed foods with added sugars, and snacks.
- Replace soft drinks with water.
- Sip coffee or tea devoid of honey or sugar.
- Replace desserts and snacks with fruit and almonds. Instead of eating dried fruit, try eating fresh fruit because it has more sugar and less water per gramme.
- Replace ice cream with homemade smoothies or sugar-free ice cream.
- Use unsweetened extracts like almond and vanilla.
- Take into account changing to a ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet.
Do sugar alternatives lessen the risk of developing diabetes?
- Yes, some sweeteners or sugar substitutes can help you reduce your risk of developing diabetes just by replacing sugar with them. But not all sweeteners are advantageous.
- For instance, normal sugar, or sucrose, has a glycemic index score of 65, according to a 2017 assessment of the literature. This illustrates how quickly your blood sugar will spike as a result.
- Maltitol, in contrast, has a glycemic index of 35.
- One of the finest substitutes is erythritol, which has a zero glycemic index and doesn’t cause blood sugar to rise.
- Stevia and monk fruit are further choices.
Myth 2: Diabetes is not a serious condition.
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: Diabetes is a severe disease that, when not properly managed, can lead to severe complications. It significantly impacts the quality of life and can reduce life expectancy. Individuals with diabetes face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, kidney damage, nerve damage, eye problems, foot ulcers, and infections. Diabetes is known for 3 most common complications gradually retinopathy, neuropathy & nephropathy with blood pressure fluctuations which can cause heart disease also.
Myth 3: All types of diabetes are the same.
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: Diabetes encompasses various types, including type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Each type has distinct causes and necessitates different treatment approaches. Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections or pumps to control blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with oral medications, insulin, or lifestyle changes, depending on its severity. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy when the body can’t produce enough insulin to meet increased demands. It usually disappears after delivery but heightens the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. All types of diabetes are intricate and require attention.
Myth 4: Obesity always leads to diabetes.
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: While obesity constitutes a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, it isn’t a direct cause. Not all obese individuals develop type 2 diabetes, and conversely, not all individuals with type 2 diabetes are obese. Other factors such as genetics, age, ethnicity, and family history also contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Myth 5: People with diabetes must entirely avoid sugar.
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: People with diabetes can consume sugar in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, they need to monitor their blood glucose levels and adjust their medication or insulin doses accordingly. It’s also important to limit the intake of refined carbohydrates, including white bread, white rice, and pasta, as they can quickly raise blood glucose levels. Instead, choosing complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which provide fiber and other nutrients, is beneficial.
Myth 6: Diabetes always leads to blindness and amputation.
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves supplying the eyes and feet. This damage can result in vision loss and foot ulcers that, if left untreated, may necessitate amputation. However, managing blood glucose levels within the target range, regular eye exams, proper foot care, and seeking medical attention for infections or injuries can prevent or delay these complications.
Myth 7: People with diabetes should not drive
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: People with diabetes can drive safely as long as they manage their condition well and follow the advice of their healthcare team. They need to check their blood glucose levels before driving and avoid driving if they are too low or too high. They also need to carry some snacks or glucose tablets in case of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that identifies them as having diabetes.
Myth 8: Prediabetes always leads to diabetes
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: Prediabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. It affects about one-third of adults in the U.S. and increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within five years if left untreated. However, prediabetes can be reversed or delayed by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy and being physically active.
Myth 9: You will know if you have diabetes by your symptoms
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: Not always. Type 2 diabetes often has no symptoms or mild symptoms that may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other conditions. Some common symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision and slow-healing wounds. However, these symptoms may only appear when blood glucose levels are very high or after complications have developed. Therefore, it is important to get screened for diabetes regularly if you have any risk factors or family history of the disease.
Myth 10: Only people with type 1 diabetes need insulin
Diabetes Mythbuster Fact: People with type 1 diabetes depend on insulin injections or pumps to survive because their pancreas cannot produce any insulin at all. However, some people with type 2 diabetes may also need insulin therapy if their oral medications or lifestyle changes are not enough to control their blood glucose levels. Insulin therapy can help prevent long-term complications and improve quality of life for people with type 2 diabetes¹⁴. Taking insulin when needed is not a sign of failure but a part of managing type 2 diabetes.