12 Common Diabetes Myths Debunked

sugar_insulin_diabetes

Myth #1: People with diabetes can't eat anything sweet.

Relax -- despite what you may have heard, a piece of cake or a couple of cookies won't cause a health crisis. In fact, sweets can be eaten in moderation by people with type 2 diabetes, if eaten as part of a healthy meal plan and combined with exercise, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Still, while avoiding sweet treats isn't mandatory, limiting them is. Sweets often contain not only empty calories but a lot of sugar, a carbohydrate that raises glucose levels considerably. For better glucose control, diabetics should have dessert only after a low-carb meal. It's important to eat that chicken breast, broccoli, and salad before dishing into some ice cream.

Myth #2: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

No, chocaholics aren't destined to develop diabetes. The disease is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. And the high level of sugar in someone's bloodstream is not the same thing as the refined stuff you buy in bags from the supermarket. That said, being overweight can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and eating a lot of sugar can pack on the pounds. If your family has a history of diabetes, eating healthfully and exercising regularly is recommended to keep everyone's weight in check. For those who already have diabetes, those same things will help them manage the disease.

Myth #3: People with diabetes must eat a special diet.

A healthy diet for someone with diabetes is the same as a healthy diet for an yone else. How does that look? A wholesome meal plan is based on whole-grain foods, lean protein, vegetables, and fruit. Such a diet is low in fat (particularly saturated and trans fat), salt, and simple sugars. So-called diabetic foods offer no special benefits. The best bet is to skip these costly commercial offerings and head for the produce aisle instead.

Myth #4: You can catch diabetes from someone else.

Diabetes is not an infectious or contagious disease. Scientists don't know for sure exactly what causes the disorder, but it can't be caught from another person, like a cold or the flu. There, does, however, appear to be a genetic link with type 2 diabetes: If a family member has the condition, you're at higher risk fo r the disease.

Myth #5: There are only two types of diabetes.

Not so. Diabetes refers to a group of diseases -- all of which require serious attention -- that have in common the body's inability to properly convert glucose from food into energy, leading to a high level of sugar in the blood. The main kinds include type 1 (formerly known as juvenile-onset diabetes), type 2 (once called adult-onset diabetes), and gestational (which occurs only during pregnancy). The suspected causes differ for each type, but managing any type of diabetes requires balancing food, physical activity, and, if needed, medications. And while people with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day for their entire lives, type 2 diabetes is no less of a concern, because ignoring it could lead to devastating complications such as blindness, heart attack, and stroke.

Myth #6: Only people with diabetes need insulin.

Everybody needs insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to convert food into energy for activity. People who don't have diabetes make and use the right amount of this chemical. People with diabetes either don't make any insulin, don't make enough, or can't use the insulin they make properly. If you or someone you're caring for has type 2 diabetes, it's important to balance food, activity, and -- in some cases -- medications, which may include insulin injections or an insulin pump (insulin isn't available in pill form), to get the necessary amount of this essential hormone. And to dispense with another myth in this area: Insulin is a tool to manage diabetes, not a cure.

Myth #7: Nothing can be done to prevent diabetes complications.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Studies show that d iabetes-related complications can be prevented or delayed by following a self-care treatment plan that keeps blood sugar levels under control and by getting regular medical checkups. Many people with type 2 diabetes also have high blood pressure and cholesterol. Keeping these twin conditions in check as well can also go a long way toward warding off complications such as nerve damage and kidney failure.

Myth #8: Only overweight people get diabetes.

Here's the skinny on this one: Many people who have type 2 diabetes carry excess pounds, and some are obese, but many elderly people with the condition aren't particularly overweight. If you or the person you're caring for needs to shed some weight, it may be motivating to learn that even modest weight loss through healthier eating and increased activity can help keep long-term complications at bay. But diabetes doesn't discriminate: Even Slim Jims can succumb to the disease.

Myth #9: People with diabetes shouldn't exercise.

The exact opposite is true: Exercise is a key component of any diabetes treatment plan, as it helps diab etics better use insulin and lower or maintain weight. Alas, exercise is often the most overlooked weapon in the arsenal against this disease, underestimated by both patients and care providers . If the person in your care hasn't been active in a long time, is overweight, or has other medical conditions or mobility issues, then it's wise to get his or her main diabetes care provider's green light before he or she embarks on an exercise regimen. But barring severe disability or serious complications, physical activity of some sort -- and this doesn't have to mean working out at a gym -- should be done regularly by everyone with diabetes, regardless of age. You might encourage the person you're caring for to take walks with you, for instance.

Myth #10: People who follow their treatment plan never have high blood sugar readings.

It's too bad this myth isn't true. Unfortunately, someone with diabetes may experience the odd stubbornly high reading even if he's diligently following all his doctors' orders. Type 2 diabetes isn't an easy disease to manage -- and as we age, our bodies are constantly changing, as is our reaction to stress, infections, illness, medications, exercise, and diet. Little wonder, then, t hat sometimes our blood sugar doesn't cooperate.

It's best to praise a diabetic's hard work when he does hit his recommended range, but don't let an occasional high reading give him the excuse to throw in the towel. If he keeps on following his treatment plan, he'll find that, overall, his glucose control is on target.

Myth #11: It's possible to have "just a touch" or "a little" diabetes.

Nope, you either have type 2 diabetes or you don't -- period. And if you have the disease, you need to pay attention to it. Even if diet and exercise changes keep the disease in check a nd you don't need oral medications or insulin injections, the condition still demands that you follow a self-management treatment plan that includes glucose monitoring and making careful lifestyle choices.

Myth #12: People diagnosed with diabetes are doomed.

Far from it. While it's true that diabetes is a long-term disease without a cure and tha t diabetics might experience some pretty nasty complications if their blood sugar levels are allowed to soar sky-high for years, they can avoid that fate.

Many people can and do lead busy, active, spontaneous lives while also managing their type 2 diabetes. A diabetes diagnosis alone doesn't rule out travel, having fun, or partaking in many common pastimes or pursuits. Simply put, they must follow their treatment regimen, plan ahead, and take extra precautions when necessary, such as checking blood sugar more often if they're traveling across the country, or packing the right foods if they're taking a long car trip. With a little help and support from family or friends and the assistance of a good healthcare team, it's possible to live a full and fulfilling life even with a diabetes diagnosis.


about 2 years ago, said...

I would like to say yes to the helpful question, but the screen moving, pop ups, and bright flickering ads made it hard to read the article. Thanks for the information, it is pretty much in line with what my Dr. has told me. Good Day!


almost 3 years ago, said...

Knowing that even though diabetes has no cure and is progressive, with proper balancing of the sugar/carbs, it can be successfully managed.


about 3 years ago, said...

The realities must be available to multitudes of people of differrent levels to debunk myths amongst many


about 3 years ago, said...

It will be a great help to translate this in many languages to help people of diverse location to understand


about 3 years ago, said...

yes it is good I have type 2 diabetese and find this helpful


over 3 years ago, said...

Wonderful website altogether. Would love to get a "reading list" that can be downloaded; suggestions for books to buy (esp. e-books) on various conditions/health matters.


over 3 years ago, said...

It covered all the myths and beliefs with suggestion for improvement and manage diabetic condition. secondly, exercise or brisk walking is very essential to control the disease. To keep the body wt. and mass on check and not to gain extra wt after the disease is diagnosed if the wt. is reasonable ok. .


over 3 years ago, said...

This article is dangerously wrong in so many points. Please please let only industry professionals write articles concerning health matters.


over 3 years ago, said...

I am pre-diabetic and love sweets, pies, brownies with ice cream etc. I'm afraid to get diabetes. I once had type 2 diabetes according to a well know nutritionist. Later on I changed and my Dr. who treats me for thyroid since my bout with carcinoma of the thyroid,which was removed, told me I was not Insulin resistant. I fear diabetes because I also had Non hodgkins lymphoma stage 3 and for anything I get, my doctor is having me go thru many tests afraid it might be cancer again. I'm 75 yrs. young and full of life, thank God. I exercise almost every day and eat well but can't keep from having my sweets. Thank you so very much for your enlightening article. God Bless You.


over 3 years ago, said...

Wonderful article I was diagnosed by the ER on 3/30/13 Went in with a reading of 545. I was released with a reading of 311. I am scared as it has been high even after taking the Metforman been in the 400s all day. Dr appointment on Monday. The ER told me it was not high enough to be admitted.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Ankle Circulation is excellent per measurements at physician office. along with almost constant foot pain with little help given. Gout is always alive with flares. I go to a pain clinic. 50 mg twice per day of Kadien keeps me from jumping off a hill or bridge but never completely lets me forget for just one second of the agony of de' feet! Here I am yakking away about me when I noticed the viewing of comments, maybe My answer is already there. My big question is about availability for me to purchase something by which I may check my blood without a note from the doctor, I want independence an d the freedom to check day by day


about 4 years ago, said...

I have attempted to avoid all sweets but fell off the wagon last night. I actually ate a doughnut empty calories and all.First time in years had one.I just have to get back on the wagon. Gets hard sometimes.


almost 5 years ago, said...

I'm somwhat confused. I am type 2 and have been on Metformin "pills" for some time. My Doctor described Metfomin as "oral insulin" However, you are stating that there is no insulin made in pill form. Then why am I taking this? please don't tell me it is a placebo. Thank you


almost 5 years ago, said...

This is very decieving because in other articles they discuss Insulin tollerance where your body requires more and more insulin because there is to much carbohydrate (sugar) intake. So when your body is pumping out high levels of insulin, it essentially gets fatigued over time. This is what was written in another article on caring.com. But in this myths article, it says sugar is not the reason. I think they should clarify this a bit more and note that it is not the periodic intake of sugar that causes it along with other factors. I know that my wife's parents have both been diagnosed with Type 2. They eat very bad. And refuse to change their habits. They believe the myth that everything is fine in moderation. The only problem is that they are overweight and instead of a slice of cake once a week, they eat two slices a day. Or instead of a can of coke per day. They drink coke like they should be drinking water. Their docter is also not very helpful.


almost 5 years ago, said...

This is very decieving because in other articles they discuss Insulin tollerance where your body requires more and more insulin because there is to much carbohydrate (sugar) intake. So when your body is pumping out high levels of insulin, it essentially gets fatigued over time. This is what was written in another article on caring.com. But in this myths article, it says sugar is not the reason. I think they should clarify this a bit more and note that it is not the periodic intake of sugar that causes it along with other factors. I know that my wife's parents have both been diagnosed with Type 2. They eat very bad. And refuse to change their habits. They believe the myth that everything is fine in moderation. The only problem is that they are overweight and instead of a slice of cake once a week, they eat two slices a day. Or instead of a can of coke per day. They drink coke like they should be drinking water. Their docter is also not very helpful.


about 5 years ago, said...

I don't have diabetes, but my little miniature poodle does :( I have to give her insulin shots every day. I learned a few things about diabetes from this article. I guess humans and canines share this malady. Never knew that before the dogie was diagnosed with the disease.


over 5 years ago, said...

The articles are very informative and helpful. Very easy to understand. My glucose is 110 and you tips help me to understand that I may be prediabetic.


over 5 years ago, said...

Another thing to consider are things deemed "sugarless". Sugarless doesn't mean diabetically healthy. Sugarless candies are loaded with carbs, just as non-alcoholic beer is extremely high in carbs. So yes, accept that you are a diabetic and follow the right path. No shortcuts. They don't work.


about 7 years ago, said...

This has been an interesting and informative article. I don't know much about diabetes, but I feel I know more know. Thank you


about 7 years ago, said...

THE 'BIGGEST RIP OFF' IS THE BLOOD/SUGAR METER ..... THE METERS ARE PRACTICALLY GIVE AWAY ITEMS IT'S THE HIGH COST OF THE TESTING STRIPS THAT MAKE MONEY FOR THE DRUG COMPANIES. I DO BELEIVE THAT SERIOUS CASES OF DIABETIS THE METER IS A 'GOD SENT' WAY FOR IT'S USER. HOWEVER, A SLIGHT ELEVATION IN BLOOD SUGER AT YOUR YEARLY BLOOD TEST MAY CAUSE YOUR DOCTOR TO RECOMMEND THAT YOU START MONBITORING YOU BLOOD SUGAR. DOCTORS WILL RECOMMEND AND PRESCRIBE FOR YOU A METER AND SOME TEST STRIPS (USUALLY FREE OR ON YOUR PLAN).... NOW YOUR HOOKED ! "This is the best article i have yet to read on diabetes............ty"


about 7 years ago, said...

I am 62 and a type 2,been on Actos 45 mg for 10 yrs,I try to eat right & exercise,most of my friends who recieved the news they were type 2 continued to drink booze & didnt exercise,they all have developed health problems,eyesight,kidney issues,now they try to maintain the condition but it is tough on them due to yrs of inactivity,just sitting on the bar stool & drinking booze has cost them dearly,now they find it diffilcult to maintain,I have to drive my buddies 2009 Cadillac to get him to the Dr office because he didnt pay attention 10 yrs ago,what good is that brand new Caddy if your vision is impaired? He is trying very hard to control his diabetes in his early 60's,my advice is to get on it immediately & stay on it to the end,shadow diseases usually show up,hi-b/p-exercise often,lose weight