Diabetes Myths Busted
We’ve all had that moment when you find out that someone you know has diabetes. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone in your family, a friend of a friend, or even a celebrity. If you’re like most people, your initial reaction probably goes something like “wow, really?”, or perhaps an “oh, no” also crosses your mind. Some people don’t even know how to react.
Whenever diabetes comes up in conversation, most of us also tend to come up with all these scenarios of what we know about it – or more like what we think we know. But because it’s such a complex medical condition, our lack of awareness often leads to our imaginations running wild with different scenarios, most of which are definitely inaccurate.
So many myths surround diabetes because it’s essentially an “invisible” illness, which means that only the afflicted individuals truly know what it’s like to live with it. But as SHEROES who arm ourselves with information, we can help improve many lives by having the superpower to see the invisible.
Here’s what we should know: Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that involves having abnormally high levels of blood sugar or glucose. In Type 1 diabetes, it means that the pancreas can’t make insulin, which we need to help convert glucose into energy in our cells. In Type 2 diabetes, the body can’t effectively use insulin1. And when the body can’t regulate this process, too much glucose can do major damage.
Now that we have some basic knowledge, let’s start busting some myths about diabetes!
MYTH #1: SUGAR IS THE ENEMY, SO EATING TOO MUCH OF IT WILL GIVE ME DIABETES!
Because sugar is often the villain that people associate with diabetes, it’s natural to assume that eating too much sweet food is the one and only cause. That’s not true, just like the idea that diet alone is the single factor that directly leads to diabetes. While research has linked too much sugar intake to an increased risk of having Type 2 diabetes, there are also many other things to consider – lifestyle, genes, and even environmental factors can be at play2.
But just like many things in life, moderation is key. Too much sugar can increase your risk of many health conditions, so it definitely won’t hurt to give your sweet tooth a break once in a while!
MYTH #2: IF I HAVE DIABETES, I CAN ONLY EAT SPECIAL DIABETIC FOOD.
Lots of “sugar-free” options usually have artificial sweeteners that can help reduce calorie intake. This kind of food is usually marketed towards diabetics, but that doesn’t mean that there are no other options3.
Diabetics can still eat whatever they want, as long as they regulate their diet4. Maybe they can choose healthier cooking methods, plan their meals, or do portion control. This way, delicious food like dessert isn’t exactly off the table – it just means that maybe one tiny scoop of ice cream is enough for today!
MYTH #3: I’M NOT OVERWEIGHT, AND NOBODY IN MY FAMILY HAS EVER HAD DIABETES, SO I’M NOT AT RISK OF HAVING IT.
Wrong! While it’s true that the risk of diabetes increases in overweight people and those who have it in their family history, it is a myth that they’re the only ones who can get it5,6. There are many people within or under the normal weight range who also have diabetes, just like those who have no diabetic family members.
Even if weight and family history are often linked to Type 2 diabetes, there are other risk factors at play. Aside from genes, research has also pointed to ethnicity and environmental reasons7. To help lower the risk or prevent the onset of diabetes, it is always recommended to have a balanced diet, get regular exercise, and maintain a normal body weight.
MYTH #4: I LIVE WITH A DIABETIC, SO I MIGHT CATCH DIABETES!
Definitely a myth! Diabetes is classified by the World Health Organization as a noncommunicable disease8. As a chronic condition, it is not contagious, or something that you can catch like a common cold. So now you can sit back, relax, and just read more about it to help the diabetic in your life!
MYTH #5: PEOPLE CAN JUST TAKE MEDICINE FOR DIABETES, SO IT’S NOT THAT SERIOUS.
There are many ways to control blood sugar levels – Type 1 diabetics need to take their insulin shots, while some Type 2 diabetics can also take oral medication. However, they all still need to do it through diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes isn’t just something that goes away with drugs. It’s a progressive disease that causes many deaths, and it can also contribute to other serious medical conditions like heart disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage9. But there’s no need to despair, because there are still so many ways to manage this disease and reduce the risk for other complications.
MYTH #6: DIABETICS CAN’T LIVE A NORMAL LIFE!
Some people think that having diabetes means not being able to do a lot of things - you can’t drive, play sports, or even get a good job. Even worse, they think that you’ll inevitably need to have your leg cut off, and that you’ll go blind!
It’s definitely wrong to apply all these extreme scenarios to all diabetics. In fact, a quick look at the long list of famous and accomplished diabetics around the world proves just how terrible these assumptions are10. Anyone can be diabetic, and any diabetic can be who they want to be and do what they want to do!
Despite the increase in health risks, it’s so much easier to manage diabetes and prevent any complications in this day and age11. One great way to do it is already right here, with InLife She Cares. With so much information and help available to them, diabetics are already proving that they can live a normal life, and even an extraordinary one!
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