Myths about Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

Myths about Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes:

This is a list of Myths about Type 1 diabetes. It was taken from the American Diabetes Association Web Site.

Recently the American Diabetes Association tested Americans knowledge of common diabetes myths and facts. See how they scored.
Get the facts about diabetes and learn how you can stop diabetes myths and misconceptions.
Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.
Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.  Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact:  Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.
Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: No, it does not.  Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.  Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain.  If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.
Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit.  Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive, and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.
Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.
Fact: Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan.  What is important is the portion size.  Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks.  The key is portions.  For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods is about right.  Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.
Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes.  They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes.
Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.
Fact: No.  Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious.  It can’t be caught like a cold or flu.  There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.  Lifestyle factors also play a part.
Myth:  People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.
Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes.  However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.
Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.
Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications.  But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal.  Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.
Myth:  Fruit is a healthy food.  Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.  
Fact: Fruit is a healthy food.  It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan.  Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

By Catherine Marschilok, M.S.N., C.D.E., Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management

We all know a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is hard on families as they learn to cope with a number of changes in their daily life. While people care, it is all too common for them to ask questions that reflect a lack of knowledge about T1D, such as, “When will she outgrow it?” It can be frustrating to explain the battle that all families face every hour of every day, and that can be compounded by having to deal with people’s common misunderstandings and misperceptions, including the widely-held belief that T1D is not a serious disease. Here are some of those myths:myth: Taking insulin cures diabetes.fact: Taking insulin keeps people with T1D alive, but does not cure the disease. While progress toward finding a cure has been substantial, there is still no cure for diabetes.myth: Diabetes is caused by obesity, or eating too much sugar.

fact: While obesity has been identified as one of the “triggers” for type 2 diabetes, it has no relation to the cause of type 1 diabetes. Scientists do not yet know exactly what causes T1D, but they believe that both genetic and environmental factors are involved. Eating too much sugar is not a factor.

myth: With strict adherence to a specific diet and exercise plan, and multiple insulin injections each day based on careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, a person with T1D can easily gain tight control over his or her blood sugar levels.

fact: While the above strategy is the most effective way to achieve and maintain tight control of blood sugar levels, optimal blood sugar control can be very difficult for some patients. Many factors, including stress, hormone changes, periods of growth, and illness can easily cause blood sugars to swing out of control. Teenagers, in particular, may be susceptible to this problem, as their bodies go through many changes during adolescence. Also, some people with type 1 find that even though they strive for tight control and follow their meal plan and insulin schedule, they still experience rapid fluctuations in their blood glucose. Those fluctuations do not mean the person with diabetes has done anything wrong.

myth: People with diabetes should never eat sweets.

fact:
 Limiting sweets will help people with T1D keep their blood sugar under control, but, with advice from their doctor or nutritionist, sweets can fit into their meal plan, just as they would for people without diabetes. And there are times when sweets are a must: If the blood sugar level drops too low, sweets (or juice, or soda) can be the surest to raise it, and prevent the onset of hypoglycemia.

myth: People with diabetes can’t participate in athletics.

fact: Physical exercise is important for everyone’s health, and is especially important for people with diabetes. Regular exercise helps lower blood sugar levels and keep them in the target range. There are countless examples of athletes who have had great success, from Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Gary Hall to ice hockey great Bobby Clarke.

myth: Only kids get type 1 diabetes.

fact:
 Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as “juvenile” or “juvenile onset” diabetes, is often first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. However, people may develop T1D at any age.

myth:
 Kids don’t get type 2 diabetes.

fact: Though type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adulthood, increased obesity and other factors have led to a recent “epidemic” of this form of diabetes in young adults and children under 10. Still, most children diagnosed with diabetes get T1D.

myth:
 Women with diabetes shouldn’t get pregnant.

fact: Thanks to advances in diabetes research, the outlook for pregnant women with diabetes is significantly better today than it was a generation ago. However, diabetic pregnancy requires extra effort and commitment, excellent blood sugar control, and education in all areas of diabetes management.

myth: No matter what you do, a person with diabetes for years will eventually get complications.

fact:
 Complications are not inevitable. The mechanisms that cause complications are not yet fully understood, and the extent to which they develop varies from person to person. Tight blood sugar control is the only method demonstrated to reduce the risk of developing complications, but their occurrence remains unpredictable in any individual. Some individuals with T1D may be genetically predisposed to develop complications (one of the critical issues being addressed by JDRF’s research).

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