Diabetes Misconceptions

By: Dzhingarov

Management of diabetes can be stressful enough without adding on an added layer of stigma from family and friends, who might judge you for it further compounding the difficulty. That could prove harmful to your mental wellbeing and it shouldn’t happen.

There are numerous misperceptions surrounding diabetes. Our aim is to distinguish fact from fiction so people understand what living with this chronic disease entails.

1. Type 2 is an adult-onset disease

Diabetes affects how the body uses glucose (blood sugar). It’s a complex disease with many potential complications, including cardiovascular and kidney issues. To manage diabetes successfully, individuals should follow a diet low in sugar but rich in fibre, protein, water and vitamins and minerals; but due to its complexity there are many misunderstandings surrounding the condition that could make managing it a source of confusion for those managing it.

There is a misconception that diabetics cannot consume sugar. While excessive consumption of sweets does increase risk for developing type 2 diabetes, other factors contribute as well, such as being overweight and having a family history of it. Fast food consumption, sedentary behavior and poor diet all play their part too – though two people with identical risk factors (for instance being overweight with family history of type 2) might still develop the disease differently.

Some people mistakenly believe that people living with diabetes must consume “diabetic-friendly” foods, like chocolate cakes and biscuits that are advertised as suitable. While such snacks may contain artificial sweeteners that cause digestive issues in those living with diabetes. Instead, it is advised that they eat a diet rich in non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, unprocessed foods and lean meats to maintain optimal health and manage diabetes successfully.

Another persistent myth about children and teens eating sweets is that it will lead to diabetes. While it is true that they may develop type 1 diabetes later on, type 1 is not caused by sugar consumption but by damage done to insulin-producing cells in their pancreas, so their consumption does not correlate directly with its development.

Misconceptions about diabetes can create additional stress and anxiety among those living with it, further compounding existing mental health conditions. At UC Health, an expert has come together to disprove some of the more persistent diabetes myths to reduce their impact on those living with diabetes.

2. Insulin is a lifesaver

People living with diabetes must carefully manage their blood sugar levels, which can have detrimental effects on nearly every organ of the body. When diabetes is properly managed, less likely are serious health complications in later years; otherwise it can lead to blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage as well as blindness itself.

Therefore, it’s so essential that we dispel diabetes-related myths – both within the diabetes community and outside – because misunderstandings may cause extra stress and guilt, possibly increasing risk factors like depression.

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Myth: Being overweight or obese causes type 2 diabetes.” Fact: While being overweight may increase your risk for this condition, other factors including genetics and family history play a part as well as age. Many overweight people don’t progress to diabetes while even some with normal or slightly over-weight BMI can still have it.

Be wary when reading online information as this may contain inaccuracies and falsehoods that could compromise your diabetes care team and may result in harmful advice being disseminated to you. If something seems odd or contradicts what your healthcare team has instructed, notify them immediately so they can address it with you directly.

Diabetes can cause many health complications, from heart disease and stroke to nerve damage, vision loss and foot ulcers. To reduce your risk, keep your blood glucose level closer to its individualized target value while engaging in regular physical activity and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels.

Remember, though dietary changes are necessary for those living with diabetes, you don’t have to feel limited. Enjoy your favorite dishes in moderation.

Sugar-free foods marketed as diabetic-friendly aren’t necessarily better for you; some can contain high amounts of saturated fat and calories. Instead, opt for whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats – consult your dietitian if needed for additional advice on managing diabetes and meal planning to create a diet that best suits your individual needs and lifestyle.

3. Diabetes is a disease of the elderly

Diabetes is one of the most widespread chronic illnesses, yet remains widely misunderstood. When combined with stigmatization, managing one’s symptoms becomes even more challenging for those living with the disease.

Diabetes is often perceived to be a disease exclusive of older individuals for several reasons, including an assumption that being overweight is a surefire indicator of diabetes, and an expectation that older people are more likely to be diagnosed than younger ones. Although being overweight does increase one’s risk for type 2 diabetes, other factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a part in its onset.

Recent researchers conducted a comprehensive survey with more than 1,400 people with diabetes to explore their perspectives on the disease. Researchers discovered many misconceptions related to diet and medication that led to myths surrounding this condition; for example, respondents believed “bitter foods reduce elevated blood sugar levels”, and misconceptions such as “treating for only several months should stop” decreased with increasing age.

While older adults may be more prone to type 2 diabetes than other age groups, the disease can strike anyone at any time. Early diagnosis and treatment are key in order to prevent long-term complications; with over 30 million Americans currently living with diabetes – including nearly 25% with undiagnosed disease – it’s vital that we challenge stereotypes which contribute to this health crisis.

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Caregiving for diabetes can be challenging enough without added judgment from friends, family, and coworkers. By correcting common misconceptions surrounding the condition, individuals can build their self-confidence while lessening its negative impacts on their lives. We consulted an expert in diabetes management at UC Health to gain more insight. Below are some of the top misconceptions they commonly encounter–with explanations as to their truth behind each one.

4. Diabetes is a disease of the poor

Although advances have made insulin delivery and blood-sugar monitoring easier for many with diabetes, they still face multiple challenges they cannot control – in addition to weight and lifestyle factors like sitting for long hours each day, poverty, economic constraints, discrimination are likely all playing an integral role in both its onset and progression.

Diabetics must be especially wary about what they eat, often feeling that certain foods are off limits to them and creating feelings of frustration and guilt. But keeping blood sugar levels within recommended range isn’t impossible and isn’t simply about cutting back on sweets and carbs; plenty of exercise, healthy diet and reduced stress all play key roles in keeping levels under control.

Some individuals with Type 1 diabetes may be predisposed to higher blood sugar due to genetics; however, most cases result from poor lifestyle decisions made throughout life. Making such choices can often be more challenging for people living on limited incomes as food options at local stores and transport costs for medical supplies may not be flexible or affordable compared to their more affluent peers.

Although this belief stems from ignorance and lack of information regarding diabetes, its presence is also an indicator of ignorance and inaccessibility to information regarding the illness. A recent study conducted in Pondicherry, India showed that nearly half of respondents believed you can contract diabetes from touching someone who already has it.

Researchers conducting that study discovered that many misconceptions regarding diabetes centered around diet and medication. Participants believed incorrectly that treatment should cease once disease had been managed for some time; others held to a belief that “Bitter foods reduce elevated blood sugar.”

Even though many factors that contribute to diabetes, including being overweight and not engaging in enough physical activity, are out of your hands, you still have some say over how much sugar and exercise you consume and pursue. Removing misconceptions about diabetes and educating yourself will make taking control of your own health easier.