Often times when diagnosed with diabetes people are too quick to advise you. Some advices may be good but often times many of these are mistaken beliefs about diabetes. There are so many of these false beliefs about diabetes and separating facts from non-factual statements is quiet critical for your health as a person living with diabetes. On this article we focus on the big diabetes lies or misconceptions that people have about this disease.
Misconception 1: “Diabetes is NOT a serious disease”
Truth: If not managed well, diabetes can be a serious condition. It may affect one’s quality of life and reduce life expectancy. It is associated with a number of complications that can be quiet debilitating. It causes more deaths in a year than cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. This is pretty significant. Diabetes also doubles your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attack. The good news is that when it is well controlled, your risks are significantly reduced. Early diagnosis reduces those risks as well. So if you think you have symptoms of diabetes, visit your doctor for testing.
Misconception 2: “Eating sugar causes diabetes”
Truth: Eating sugar itself does not cause diabetes. The main problem with eating too much sugar is that it leads to obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for type-2 diabetes. That being said, sugar does play an indirect role. That is why you should cut down on sugary foods.
In diabetes, the body is unable to produce insulin or use it effectively. Insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating the blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. If you are diabetic and eat a diet high in sugar, the extra sugar will stay in the blood and increase your blood sugar levels.
Misconception 3: “Thin people do not get type-2 diabetes”
Truth: There are multiple risks associated with diabetes. These include genetics, visceral fat, lifestyle habits etc. Being overweight or obese is just one risk factor out of the many others. If one has multiple risk factors, regardless of the weight they can get type-2 diabetes. Research shows that about 10% of people with type-2 diabetes are not obese or overweight. On the other hand type-1 diabetes is not associated with weight, lifestyle habits or physical inactivity.
Misconception 4: “Obesity causes diabetes”
Truth: There is a lot more to diabetes than just weight. Weight itself is not a direct cause of diabetes. There are people who are overweight and do not have diabetes, and they are those with normal weight but develop diabetes. Obesity is not equals to diabetes. That being said, being overweight or obese does put you at a high risk of developing type-2 diabetes. It is therefore important to take all the precautions to lower all the risks associated with type-2 diabetes.
Misconception 5: “I can stop taking diabetes medication once my blood sugar is under control”
Truth: People with type one diabetes do not produce insulin and therefore will need insulin injection all their life. While it is true that some people with type-2 diabetes are able to control their blood sugar by lifestyle modification, it is important to note when you are on medication and your blood sugar is normal, it’s is because you are taking medication. Once you stop the medication your blood sugar will go back to being high. Medication increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Again, diabetes is a progressive disease and even if you are able to control the blood sugar without medication, you might need it in the future.
Misconception 6: “Taking insulin means I have the worst type-2 diabetes”
Truth: Most people with type-2 will need oral medication to control their blood sugar. However there are those who may need either insulin injections or a combination of the two treatments to achieve optimal control of the blood sugar levels. This is because type-2 diabetes is a progressive disease and overtime the pancreas may produce less and less insulin. Using insulin is not a marker of the severity of the diabetes. Whether you are on insulin or oral medication, the worst diabetes is the one that is uncontrolled. It is the high blood sugars that produce the complications associated with diabetes.
Misconception 7: “People with diabetes can’t eat chocolates or sweets”
Truth: The key is to eat everything in moderation. Because sweets are made of simple sugars, they increase blood sugar levels more than other foods. They are however not off the table for either type-1 or type-2 diabetes. It is important to limit portions of sugar foods in your overall diet and consume in a mixed meal. Again plan for them like for special occasions. Remember that you do need glucose for energy in the body, whether you are diabetic or not.
Misconception 8: “Diabetes cannot be prevented”
Truth: Adopting a healthy lifestyle and reducing all the risks associated with type-2 diabetes can prevent the disease. There are people who are said to be pre-diabetic. This means they get constantly high blood sugars but not to the level of being diagnosed with diabetes. A blood test can be done to determine this. This is a warning sign that if you don’t change your lifestyle you will get diabetes. Majority of pre-diabetic patients are walking around not knowing that they are pre-diabetic. Type-1 diabetes on the other hand cannot be prevented.
Misconception 9: “I can tell when my blood sugar is high, so I do not need a blood test to determine this”
Truth: No one can accurately guess how high or low their blood sugar levels are by simply how they feel. Of course with altered blood sugar levels, symptoms may arise. For example, with high blood sugars, you may be excessively thirsty, pee often or have blurred vision. If you blood sugar is very low, you may tired, dizzy or sweat a lot. But you may also fell no symptoms at all, so there is no reliable sign to indicate how high or low you blood sugar is. Get yourself a blood glucose meter to truly know you levels.
Misconception 10: “No one in my family has diabetes, so I don’t need to worry”
Truth: There are so many factors associated with type-2 diabetes especially. Family history is just one of those risk factors. It is true that having a family member with diabetes increases our risk of getting diabetes but there are many people with diabetes who have no relatives with diabetes. You can help reduce your risk by eating a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.
Misconception 11: “It is not safe to exercise with diabetes”
Truth: Exercise helps the body to become more sensitive to insulin. It may also help you lose weight. Exercise helps reduce you cholesterol levels. All these benefits of exercise are quiet important in managing your diabetes. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day for 5 days in a week.
I hope the above have clarified the commonest misconceptions about diabetes and has helped you to better managed your diabetes. If you have any input, question or need any clarity, you may leave a comment below. Thank you.