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The Many Myths about Diabetes

Posted on 11/29/2011

As we wind down the month of November, I don't want to overlook that this month is the American Diabetes Month. It is a very important awareness campaign created to educate and inform the public about the disease. There are many myths about diabetes and I hope to dispel some of the common ones that I've heard. I hope this helps you, dear readers.

Myth: Diabetes is caused by sweets.This is false and there are still people out there who believe the disease is caused by consuming sugary foods. Actually, eating too much and being overweight or obese, which leads to Type II Diabetes, and lack of proper exercise is the real culprit. Type I Diabetes is not caused by diet and only 5% of people with diabetes have this type.

Myth: Type I Diabetes and Type II Diabetes are the same disease. This is false. They are actually not even the same disease and really Type II Diabetes should not even be called diabetes. Type I is when the body does not make insulin and cannot properly convert food for energy. Type II is when the body does not make enough or does not properly use it. Type I is not caused from one's lifestyle (i.e., weight, exercise) rather is thought to be genetic and most effects younger people, however Type II is caused from lifestyle.

Myth: Type I Diabetes is not as bad as Type II Diabetes. This is false. Both diseases are not ideal and each have complications and risk factors associated with them, however I and II are not ranked according to severity. They are completely different diseases. Type I is truly a lifetime disease upon diagnosis, however Type II is a lifestyle disease that can be greatly helped by improving one's diet and exercising and often this type of diabetes can be reversed (i.e., eliminated) through an improved lifestyle.

Myth: There are no thin diabetics. This is false, obesity is a risk factor for Type II Diabetes, but people with Type I Diabetes are typically lean or underweight.

Myth: If you have diabetes you cannot eat any sweets again.  This is false. Even Type I Diabetics can consume sweets occasionally (birthdays, holidays, etc.) as long as it is in moderation (portion control) and in conjunction with their therapy.

Myth: If you have Type II Diabetes in your family, you're going to get the disease.This is false. Lifestyle plays a significant role in this type of diabetes. Modifying your lifestyle to include a healthy, balanced diet, exercise and keeping your body mass index at a normal level will help you from being diagnosed with the disease that plagues others in your family.

Myth: All diabetics use insulin. This is false. Some diabetics are able to regulate their blood sugar levels through diet and do not require daily insulin shots. They must monitor their levels to ensure they are at a healthy or normal level throughout the day. Others take oral medications to help control their blood sugar.

Myth: Diabetics cannot play sports. This is false. Exercise is good for everyone, including diabetics. In fact, there are many professional athletes with Type I Diabetes. Monitoring blood sugar levels is key for all diabetics, including those who participate in team or individual sports.

Myth: Type I Diabetes does not affect adults. This is false. Type I Diabetes, also called Juvenile Diabetes, is most often seen in children and younger people but can occur at any age. Children with this type of diabetes do not outgrow it.

Myth: Pre-diabetes diagnosis will eventually become Type II Diabetes. This is false. If one continues with their current lifestyle, then perhaps it is in their future but if they make a lifestyle change then it does not have to occur.

Myth: Just cutting out sweets will help pre-diabetes. This is false. All carbohydrates, including sugar and starch, quickly turn to glucose in your blood. The more processed and refined the food, the quicker the conversion takes place. Whole grains help to sustain blood sugar levels.

Myth: Diabetes is not that common. This is false. There are nearly 26 million children and adults with diabetes and another 79 million at high risk for developing Type II Diabetes in this country. If this trend continues, the CDC estimates as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless something is done.

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease. This is false. More people with diabetes die each year than those with breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.


Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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