Diabetes is a concern for many people as they age. It has historically been primarily a disease of middle to old age. Nowadays, however, more young adults and even children are developing it because of unhealthy lifestyles. There are 2 forms of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, which often occurs in childhood, occurs when the pancreas is not able to produce insulin. When this happens, the blood glucose (sugar) level increases and insulin must be taken to balance out the count. Juvenile diabetes occurs mainly because of genetic factors.
Type 2, or adult onset, diabetes results when the body does not utilize the insulin the pancreas produces, called insulin resistance. The pancreas then overproduces insulin but eventually will be overloaded and cannot produce enough. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be triggered by lifestyle, the environment, or one’s family medical history.
According to the American Diabetes Association, it’s important to understand everything you can about diabetes. Misconceptions about the disease can lead you to think and act in ways that increase your risk of developing it. Here are a few of the more common myths:
Myth: Diabetes is not considered a serious illness
Fact: The disease results in more deaths annually than AIDS and breast cancer combined. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, cataracts, kidney disease and nerve damage. However, if diabetes is properly managed, you can prevent or delay many of its complications.
Myth: You must be overweight or obese to develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact: People who are normal weight can develop type 2 diabetes just like those who are overweight. Besides weight, other risk factors come into play, including age, ethnicity, and family history.
Myth: Eating lots of sugar can lead to diabetes.
Fact: Eating sugar is not a direct cause of diabetes. However, a diet high in simple carbohydrates such as sugar, fats, and calories contributes to obesity, which is a cause of the disease. As well, people who consume sugary drinks regularly are at greater risk for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association strongly suggests you avoid drinking beverages sweetened with sugar, such as fruit punch, sports drinks, soda and sweetened iced tea. Drinking sugared drinks raises the blood glucose level and boosts the number of carbohydrates consumed at one setting. For instance, 12 ounces of soda = 40 grams of carbs – about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Myth: Diabetics must follow special diets or eat certain diabetic foods
Fact: Eating a healthy diet is the best approach to controlling diabetes. You don’t need to buy specific foods as long as you eat low-calorie, nutritionally-dense foods. The carbohydrates that you consume factor into meal planning, too. The diabetes association recommends eating about 50 grams of carbohydrates at each meal.
Myth: Diabetics Cannot Eat Chocolate
When combined with a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, chocolate can be eaten every now and then. Just make sure you primarily concentrate on foods that are both lower in calories and nutritious.
Myth: Diabetics Catch Colds and Flu More Frequently
While diabetics are often encouraged to get shots for flu, they are not more likely to catch cold or get sick with the flu than others. However, they do develop complications more easily if they do get sick.
Myth: You are Not Properly Controlling Your Diabetes if You Have to Start Taking Insulin
Fact: Type 2 or adult onset diabetes is a condition that is progressive. When you are first diagnosed, you may be able to keep your blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medication. However, as the body produces reduced levels of insulin over time, you may need to replace oral medicines with the administration of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that is altogether too common – TOO common because it is mostly preventable. There is a genetic component to your risk for diabetes that you can’t control. However, a healthy lifestyle – including exercise and a nutritious diet – can help you reduce your risk of developing this devastating disease.