The facts are out there, yet myths about diabetes persist. It’s important to know how you can take care of yourself if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
With a staggering number of misconceptions about diabetes, it’s hard to know the truth. Some people believe that being obese or eating a lot of sugar causes diabetes. Both are false.
Another popular myth is that you need to be on a special diet if you have diabetes. While there’s some truth to that, it’s not 100-percent accurate. People with diabetes, like everyone, benefit from eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and limiting sugar and fat.
An incorrect belief about diabetes is that it’s not a serious disease. While diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined, you can manage diabetes if you take care of yourself and reduce your risk of developing complications.
Here are more myths and facts about diabetes.
Diabetes doesn’t have any symptoms
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes share similar symptoms, such as
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss or gain
Type 2 symptoms are a bit harder to detect. People with type 2 diabetes might think that they don’t have diabetes because they confuse symptoms of being fatigued as a symptom of getting older.
People with diabetes learn how to count carbohydrates
Counting carbs can be incredibly difficult people with type 1 diabetes. Carb counts can change. If you eat the same food today that you ate yesterday, your blood glucose can be off. It’s important to monitor your glucose levels (taking readings with a glucose meter) at the same time of day, every day, up to four times a day.
All people with diabetes need insulin
That’s true for type 1 diabetes, but not for type 2. People with type 2 diabetes can manage their diabetes with diet and exercise. Some may need medication, such as metformin or other drugs, while others may eventually take insulin.
If you have diabetes, you can’t eat sugar or carbohydrates
You can have both, but you need to limit your intake of sugar and understand that carbohydrates are a form of sugar and starch. Some starches, like potatoes, grains, rice, breads, and cereals, can be good for you. It’s also important to know that your body breaks down carbs and converts most of them into sugars. That raises your blood sugar levels.
Some carbs are healthier than others. A slice of whole-grain bread is a better choice than a bag of skittles.
Fiber, a good carbohydrate, fills you up and slows your body’s absorption of sugar. Sugary foods with empty calories, such as soda and cookies, have no fiber or nutritional value.
Exercise is dangerous for people with diabetes
The truth is that exercise is essential for anyone with diabetes.
The myth may have been started because exercise lowers and raises your blood sugar levels. It’s important to exercise properly and talk with your doctor or a certified diabetes educator about the types of exercise, and how much, you should be doing.
People with diabetes shouldn’t get pregnant
If you’re planning on getting pregnant and you or your partner have diabetes, you will need to talk to your doctor — but diabetes shouldn’t prevent you from having children.
With good monitoring at home, genetic tests, and proper care, it’s possible to have a healthy baby who won’t inherit diabetes.
People with diabetes are more susceptible to colds
This rumor may have started because people who don’t manage their diabetes can feel tired and run down. The truth is that you are no more likely to get sick if you have diabetes than someone who doesn’t have the disease.
Diabetes is an old person’s disease
Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes, but it can occur at any age.
You can manage both types of diabetes with good nutrition, exercise, controlling blood sugar levels, and visiting your doctor to talk about your health.
November 03, 2023
Janet O’Dell, RN