November is National Diabetes Awareness month. Although most people have heard of it, they don’t know much about it. The following are 10 myths about the disease and why they aren’t true.
Myth 1: Diabetes isn’t that serious of a disease. Diabetes has shown to cause more deaths a year from complications of heart disease and stroke than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes will die from these complications.
Myth 2: People who are overweight or obese will eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Although being overweight or obese is unhealthy and a risk factor for diabetes, it’s not the only contributing factor or a guarantee on getting the disease. Age, race and family history also play an important role.
Myth 3: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually caused by unknown factors that trigger the onset or genetic abnormalities in the person and their family. Type 2 diabetes is usually caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. While eating a lot of sugar isn’t necessarily healthy for anyone, it is not a factor in causing diabetes.
Myth Four: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods. Diabetics can eat anything a non-diabetic person can eat. Emphasis is placed on a healthy diet that is balanced and low in sugars and fats but doesn’t cut out regular food. Diabetic foods normally don’t offer a benefit for those with diabetes, as they are chock-full of artificial sugars which are unhealthy as well.
Myth 5: People with diabetes should only consume small amounts of starchy foods like bread, potatoes and pasta. Portion sizing is important, but not absolutely vital. Like most foods that are high in carbohydrates, they should be eaten with moderation, and the amount of insulin to be injected or medication needed to balance out the effects should be considered. An average amount of carbohydrates to start with is around 45-60 grams per meal because more than that can cause a blood sugar spike.
Myth 6: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolates. This also has to do with portion sizes. Eating sweets in moderation and with well-controlled sugars is completely okay to do.
Myth 7: A person can catch diabetes from someone else. Diabetes is not contagious like having the flu or pneumonia. The cause for diabetes is still too complex to list out the one factor that causes it, but non-diabetics definitely can’t catch it.
Myth 8: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses. It is not any more likely than someone without diabetes. People with diabetes are urged to get the flu shot every year only because being sick with diabetes makes controlling sugars much harder than it would be on a normal day. People with diabetes can also develop more serious complications while sick.
Myth 9: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes aren’t that different. In type 1 diabetes, the body is destroying the insulin creating cells in the pancreas. When the body starts destroying good things in its system it’s then labeled as an autoimmune disease.
With type 1, the body does not produce any of its own insulin. All insulin must be introduced through multiple injections a day. Without these injections, a type 1 diabetic would die. Type 1 is also usually diagnosed at an early age; it’s called juvenile diabetes.
Only 15 percent of people with diabetes have type 1. There’s not a cure, but researchers are working diligently to change this. Type 2 diabetes usually is caused by a lack of insulin being produced or cells not absorbing insulin correctly; this is known as insulin resistance.
A majority of type 2 sufferers are overweight but often have been for an extended amount of time before they were diagnosed. This type of diabetes also appears later in life, typically after someone turns 30. A lot of people diagnosed with type 2 can completely eliminate their symptoms by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Myth 10: Fruit is a healthy food, so you can eat as much as you want. Fruit is healthy, but diabetics have to consider the carbohydrates of fruit and their natural sugars. They should be in your food plan but also added when sugars are well controlled.
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