6 Common Diabetes Myths Debunked Once and for All
The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that around 422 million over the world have been diagnosed with either type 1 or 2 diabetes, with 1.5 million deaths yearly being attributed to this disease.
Given that diabetes affects a lot of people, it is no surprise that it has become such a well-researched health issue. In the midst of all these chunks of information though are certain myths people may still believe in. There is no better time to debunk these myths than now – check out some of the common misconceptions linked to this disease.
Myth #1: Sugar causes diabetes.
While it is true that excessive sugar consumption can make you overweight or obese and put you at a higher risk for diabetes, this particular substance is not to blame entirely. There are also other reasons why you may develop diabetes, depending on the type you may be affected with:
- Type 1 diabetes: Autoimmune reaction wherein your immune system attacks cells in the pancreas responsible for creating a hormone called insulin. Genetics and environmental factors play a role in its development too.
- Type 2 diabetes: Insulin resistance caused by being overweight, obese, having a sedentary lifestyle, or even genetics
Myth #2: You should cut out sugar from your diet entirely if you have diabetes.
Most people assume that you should eliminate sugar completely from your diet if you have diabetes because of the belief that it can worsen the condition. However, this can be difficult since some common food choices contain natural sugars. There are also some considerations that have to be made regarding the type and amount of food you would consume.
To address this situation, you may want to look into the Glycemic index (GI) of food choices. This refers to the speed at which food releases glucose into the body and impacts blood sugar levels. Each food option is given a possible rating out of 100 (the highest value).
A lower GI value means slower glucose release into the body. Hence, food choices with lower GI values are less likely to be associated with significant elevations of blood sugar levels. Some examples of low-GI food include broccoli, tomatoes, eggplants, lettuce, apples, pears, chickpeas, beans, legumes, cashews, peanuts, plain yogurt, and whole or full-fat milk.
Myth #3: Diabetes is a disease that is only common in adults.
Oftentimes, diabetes patients are often portrayed as middle-aged adults or older. However, did you know that children can be diagnosed with diabetes too?
In fact, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) highlighted that type 1 diabetes affects around 1.1 million children and adolescents (less than 20 years old) worldwide. As for type 2 diabetes, researchers discovered that there were 41,600 new cases among children and adolescents worldwide.
Myth #4: Diabetes can be cured.
At the moment, there is no known cure for diabetes. This is why patients are often advised to change some aspects of their lifestyle. This way, they may be able to achieve or maintain optimal blood sugar levels (depending on their health status) and prevent potential complications linked to diabetes.
One way of knowing if your blood sugar level is controlled or not is by doing the hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c test which measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. For people who already have diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you undergo it twice a year, or more frequently if you have changes to your current medicines or have other health issues.
Myth #5: Insulin is reserved for patients who are at an “advanced” stage of diabetes.
Insulin therapy is recommended for people with type 1 diabetes given that their body is unable to create this particular hormone. The type of insulin that can be utilized would depend on factors such as the patient’s physical activity level, age, lifestyle, and other factors, and should be initiated after a careful assessment and recommendation by a health professional.
People with type 2 diabetes may also have to undergo insulin therapy, alongside other medications recommended by their doctor and/or lifestyle interventions such as a proper diet and/or exercise.
Myth #6: Metformin can be harmful for your health.
There have been concerns surrounding this medicine and some people believe it causes certain health problems. But current evidence shows that metformin still remains to be a diabetes medicine that’s cheap, effective and safe, and may even provide cardiovascular benefits to people living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2022.
Likewise, the Philippine College of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Inc. states that patients with type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or colon cancer may benefit from metformin intake. However, its use may be contraindicated in cases of advanced liver disease like cirrhosis or significant kidney damage.
But does this mean you can take diabetes medicines right away? Not quite. First, you need to ask your doctor if your condition warrants medicine intake.
Second and more importantly though, remember that addressing diabetes should be done on an individual scale. Just because a particular treatment worked for another person, it does not mean it will automatically work for you. Not all bodies respond similarly to diabetes treatments or strategies.
Always talk with your doctor if you have additional questions or concerns about diabetes or your potential risk for it, and always follow guidelines regarding dosage and time of intake.