Diabetes - Basics, Myths & Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Diagnoses of this chronic (long-term) health condition are on the rise. It’s time we break down fact vs fiction about type 2 diabetes.

Let’s begin by distinguishing between the two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the cells that produce insulin.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is resistant to the action of insulin and does not make more of the hormone to compensate.

For this blog, we are going to focus specifically on type 2 diabetes. When your body does not use insulin properly, it is known as insulin resistance. In the beginning stages, your pancreas may make extra insulin to try to keep up with demand. However, over time it is unable to keep up with the rising need for insulin to keep your blood glucose levels normal. If you have type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or have someone in your life with this condition, it is important to have the facts so you can feel empowered about the steps you are taking to manage the condition.

MYTH: You Will Know if You Have Diabetes

According to the CDC, an estimated 7 million people did not have a diagnosis for their diabetes. This is because, in type 2 diabetes, the symptoms are generally less noticeable in the early stages.

MYTH: Type 2 Diabetes Only Affects People Who Are Overweight

While research does show a link between weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, it is possible to have the condition without the extra weight. It is estimated that around 12% of adults with type 2 diabetes are not overweight.

MYTH: The Cause of Type 2 Diabetes is Eating Too Much Sugar

As mentioned above, weight gain and obesity have generally been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, a report states that it is typically a combination of generic and lifestyle factors that lead to type 2 diabetes.

MYTH: People with Type 2 Diabetes Cannot Eat Sugar

The American Diabetes Association encourages people diagnosed with diabetes to enjoy a range of fresh, frozen and canned fruits with no added sugar to their diets. While fruit does contain a type of sugar called fructose, it also contains necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed for overall health. Those with diabetes are discouraged from eating refined sugar and encouraged to eat a balanced, healthy diet.

MYTH: Type 2 Diabetes is Not a Serious Condition

All types of diabetes have the potential for serious complications including; heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, eye problems, digestive problems, bone & joint disorders, tooth & gum problems, neuropathy and more. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2016, diabetes was the direct cause for more than 1.5million deaths worldwide. It is important that those diagnosed or at risk for diabetes, seek treatment and make effective lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of complications from this condition.

MYTH: If You Have Type 2 Diabetes, You Have to Eat Special Foods

A diet low in saturated fat, moderate in salt & sugar, containing lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is a great start for anyone with diabetes. A patient’s exact nutrition requirements vary greatly, so it’s always a good idea to talk to your health care provider about the best choices for you.

MYTH: I Don’t Need Medication if I’ve Made Lifestyle Changes

While it is true that some people are able to control their blood glucose with healthy eating and physical activity, for most people, medications or insulin may be necessary to help maintain your targeted blood glucose levels. It is also important to keep in mind that often; type 2 diabetes worsens over time. This means that even if you do not require medication or insulin now, that may change later on.

MYTH: There is No Diabetes in My Family History, So I Don’t Need to Worry

Lifestyle, heredity and other factors have all been linked to diabetes. Many people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have no close family members with the condition.

MYTH: Drinking Extra Water Will Help Dilute the Sugar in My System

Drinking plenty of water is an important step for overall health. However, you cannot “wash” away sugar in your system with extra water. It is also important to note that sugary drinks have been linked to type 2 diabetes. These beverages include drinks such as; soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, energy drinks, and fruit punch.

Remember that diabetes is common, serious and controllable! There are steps you can take to help control your type 2 diabetes and prevent complications. By making healthy diet choices, staying active, losing weight if necessary, testing your blood sugar, taking your medications as prescribed and keeping your doctor appointments, you can live a full life.

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Written By: S. Campbell for Access Health Care Physicians, LLC. 

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