There are so many myths about diabetes that make it hard for people to determine which are facts and which are not. These myths can influence other people’s mindset about diabetes, which is not accurate most of the time. One important fact about diabetes that you should know is that it is a serious and potentially deadly disease.
The American population alone comprises of more than 24 million diabetics. Many of these people are not even aware that they have diabetes. In order to reduce the risk of this deadly illness, one should not fall victim to common myths about the disease.
Here are the 10 most common myths about diabetes that you should think about.
- Diabetes Is Not Hereditary
Some people can develop diabetes even though it doesn’t run in the family, or if there are no history of the disease within the family. Experts confirmed that although it is not an assurance that you can have diabetes if someone in the family has it, heredity certainly plays a role.
In a study conducted involving twins, heredity is not the only factor for both participants to acquire diabetes. When one twin, for example, has type 1 diabetes, the other twin has fifty-fifty chance of getting it, too. Meaning, the other twin may or may not have it. The fifty percent chance came from hereditary factors while the other fifty from other factors.
On the other hand, for type 2 diabetes, the twins are more likely to have the same diagnosis. The chance of the other twin acquiring it can be as high as 75%. However, other factors such as their diet and weight gain can play a role in determining their chance of getting it.
Therefore, regardless of your family history with diabetes, you should always exercise and eat a healthy diet.
- Eating Carbs Is The Culprit
Many people believe that eating carbs is one of the main reasons why people develop diabetes. In actuality, in a group of people whose diets consist of mainly carbohydrates, diabetes is not prevalent.
One good example here is Japan, whose diet is composed primarily of rice, which contains high amounts of carbohydrates. Before the 80’s, there is just less than 5% of the adult population there developed diabetes. However, with the growing number of fast food chains and the productions of processed meat, which certainly displaced rice, diabetes became more rampant. By 1990, the number of cases of diabetes in Japan had doubled.
Meanwhile in the United States, the risk of having type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among meat-eaters. While vegans have the lower risk, other groups such as semi-vegetarians, fish-eater and lacto-ovo-vegetarians are in between.
So the bottom line here is that eating carbohydrates is really not the culprit, but fatty foods.
- Weight Is Not A Factor
This is a very common myth that many people seem to believe. Just because you are skinny, it does not guarantee you will never develop diabetes. Being obese does not guarantee you will develop either, but you are probably at risk. Staying fit can decrease your chances of having diabetes, but again, this is not an assurance that you won’t develop it.
Diabetes, as you may know, occurs when the cells in the body become resistant to insulin, which is the hormone that helps transport blood sugar into cells. According to some doctors, insulin resistance is due to the build-up of microscopic fat droplets inside cells (e.g. fat cells and muscle cells). Insulin resistance can occur even in people who have a very little belly or hip fat.
The good news is the dietary steps used to reduce belly or hip fat is the same as the steps to help prevent the build-up of fat inside cells.
4. Diabetes Is Caused By Eating Too Much Sugar
The two types of diabetes are caused by different factors. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and some unknown factors that trigger the attack of diabetes while type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet.
As stated previously, being overweight does not guarantee that you will have diabetes, but you are at high risk of having it, especially type 2 diabetes. Regular consumption of food and drinks that contain a high amount of calories can contribute to rapid weight gain, which is what we want to prevent when people have or at risk with diabetes. Studies suggest that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association suggests that people should avoid consuming sugar-sweetened beverages which include regular soda, fruit punch, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and fruit drinks. These will raise blood glucose and can contain a high amount of calories in just one serving. Just imagine one 12-ounce can of regular soda which has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate.
- Once You Get Diabetes, You Have It Forever
Another common misconception about diabetes is that, according to some, once you get the disease it is irreversible. However with the onset of gastric bypass surgery, it became apparent that rapid weight loss could reverse the cases of diabetes, particularly type 2. Gastric bypass surgery is a type of procedure for weight loss.
In 2009, the American Diabetes Association suggested a kind of diet to help treat diabetes. The said diet consists of low-fat, vegan (pure vegetarian) meals. The majority of the people who have tried this method said that this diet can really aid in rapid weight loss. Some people who stated that this method is effective also noticed the signs of diabetes have also disappeared.
The fact is diabetes can be treated. With proper diet and several treatments, a diabetic can actually live diabetes-free after a series of medications. Of course, you also have to be consistent about your lifestyle, because if not, your chance of getting back diabetes is just as high as before you even have it.
- Diabetic People Should Only Eat Special Diabetic Foods
Being diabetic does not make you special, so you don’t have to eat a special diet intended for diabetic people. The truth is that a healthy diet for diabetic people is just the same as any other “normal” people. This diet consists of food low in trans fat and saturated fats, low to moderate in sugar and salt, lean meat as the primary source of protein non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fresh fruits.
Yes, there are really Diabetic and “dietetic” foods out in the market, but the reason why these are discouraged is that it does not bring any special benefit. Most of these “special food” can still cause an increase in the blood glucose levels, and they are way more expensive that the foods mentioned above.
The sad truth is, this is just one of the many strategies of food companies to gain more profit. They re-pack regular foods and label them as “food for diabetics” and sell them at a relatively high price.
- Drugs Are Just As Effective as Proper Diet
Medications are essential to many diabetic people. These tiny capsules and tablets can even be life-saving. However, the truth is, these drugs alone can’t aid in the weight-loss that is needed to really treat diabetes and to keep blood glucose levels under control.
He difference between medications and proper diet is that medications give remedy to a specific problem such as cholesterol or blood glucose while proper diet gives remedy to all symptoms relating to diabetes all at once. Medications alone should never be used as alternative to a proper diet.
A recent study was conducted involving people who are at risk of getting diabetes, particularly type 2. One group had proper diet and exercise while the other group had drug treatments. Results showed that people who had proper diet and exercise became less susceptible than those who took drug medication alone. This just proved the power of proper diet and exercise as an effective method for the prevention of diabetes.
- Diabetes Drugs Don’t Give Side Effects
Just lately, one of the most popular diabetes drugs called Avandia has been on the news. The reason is that it has been associated with heart problems. However, it is important to know that all diabetes medications have side effects.
The oral drug that is most often used to combat the symptoms of diabetes type 2 is the Metformin. This drug, according to users, often cause discomfort in the digestive system. On the other hand, other drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes causes weight gain. This is really unfortunate since being overweight can be dangerous for people dealing with type 2 diabetes. Again, unfortunately, insulin injections cause the same problem.
These annoying side effects do not actually suggest people with diabetes to get discouraged to completely avoid taking medications. However, it is recommended by experts to eat a proper diet and have regular exercise in order to live a balanced lifestyle.
- People Can Get Diabetes From Someone Who Has It
It is really crazy that some people actually believe in this. One reason why it is included in the list is because it is absolutely just a myth, a misconception, something that is not true. Diabetes is not like colds or cough which is airborne.
Diabetes is not contagious, and you could not just acquire it by having direct contact with people who has diabetes. There is NO way it can be passed on from one person to another, either by sharing drinks/food or something of that sort.
It seems like the only acceptable fact that is quite relevant to this myth is that genetic plays a big role in determining if a person is likely to have diabetes, either type 1 or type 2. For example, if your father has diabetes, there is also a chance that you can have it but not through direct contact or because the disease is contagious. The link is purely based on genetic.
- You Can Eat As Much Fruits As You Wish; It’s Healthy Anyway
As the cliché says, anything that’s excessive is bad: Alcohol, sweets, coffee, name it. But what about fruits? These delicious foods are undeniably healthy, but consuming too much of these is not doing you any good. Some fruits contain a high amount of sugar, which can cause an increase in your blood sugar level. This is what we are trying to avoid, so it is important to carefully choose the type of fruits as well as the amount you take in.
Since fruits contain fibers and lots of vitamins and minerals, these are considered superfoods, especially for people who are dealing with any illness. Also, they contain carbohydrates which make them one of the components of a healthy balanced diet. Take note that it is crucial to consult your doctor for the right portions of fruits to take in per day so that you will stay under control.