If you’re like most people, you probably think that too much sugar in your diet will make you diabetic. Or you might assume that if you are diagnosed with diabetes, you have to avoid sweets for the rest of your life.
However, neither of these myths is true.
Understanding and managing diabetes – or even avoiding becoming prediabetic – first helps separate fact from fiction about this serious disease.
Here are 10 diabetes myths and their facts you should know:
Myth: You can develop diabetes by eating too much sugar.
Fact: Overdosing on foods and beverages that contain sugar can help trigger diabetes if you are prediabetic or predisposed to develop the disease. However, sugar is not a direct cause. Those with type 2 diabetes gradually develop a resistance to insulin, which is the hormone responsible for converting blood sugar into energy, and when the pancreas can’t keep up with the increased demand, it results in diabetes. The cause of type 1 diabetes can be traced to the body’s immune system attacking insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Myth: Thin people don’t get diabetes, only those who are overweight.
Fact: While obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, so is genetics, and blood sugar can rise with age regardless of weight. Besides having a family history of diabetes, other risk factors include being sedentary; having a personal history of gestational diabetes, heart disease, or polycystic ovary syndrome; having high blood pressure, cholesterol, or triglyceride levels; being 45 years or older; or non-Caucasian.
Myth: Type 1 diabetes is more serious than type 2 diabetes.
Fact: Both types of the disease can lead to severe complications – such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, gum infections, or amputation – if left uncontrolled.
Myth: There are telltale symptoms when your blood sugar is too high.
Fact: There are no symptoms when blood sugar is slightly elevated and only mild indications that might be overlooked with moderately elevated blood sugar levels. The common symptoms of high blood sugar levels include fatigue, increased hunger or thirst, weight loss, more frequent urination, and sores that do not heal.
Myth: You need to follow a special diet when you’re diabetic.
Fact: A person with diabetes can maintain the same healthy diet as anyone else if it includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and a moderate amount of healthier fats, including those found in canola and olive oil. Even sweets are okay as long as they are part of a healthy meal plan or combined with exercise.
Myth: If you are diabetic, you should limit your physical activity.
Fact: On the contrary, exercise helps control blood sugar, weight, and blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels. It also reduces the risk of diabetes complications, such as heart disease and nerve damage. Indeed, workouts can sometimes lower blood sugar and cause hypoglycemia in those who take insulin. To prevent this from happening, you should avoid working out on an empty stomach, stay hydrated, and check your blood sugar before and after exercise. If you start feeling weak or light-headed, have a snack to elevate your blood sugar.
Myth: All diabetics require insulin injections to control their disease.
Fact: Those with type 1 diabetes need daily injections since their body produces little or no hormones. However, those with type 2 diabetes can take pills that help to normalize their blood sugar level.
Myth: If you are diabetic, you need to monitor your blood sugar frequently.
Fact: Those who don’t use insulin and keep their blood sugar under control only need to check it at home occasionally, if at all. Instead, they can have it checked regularly by their doctor. Of course, those who use insulin need to be more vigilant in order to adjust their dosage when necessary and guard against a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels. If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you should monitor your blood sugar patterns for a while to note how they waver with meals, medications, exercise, and stress.
Myth: If you have diabetes, you will eventually have other disabling complications and require kidney dialysis.
Fact: Serious complications resulting from diabetes occur less frequently if you have regular checkups and maintain good control of your blood sugar levels.
Myth: Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong problem.
Fact: Although type 1 diabetes is currently incurable, type 2 is more common and can be improved by adopting healthier habits, such as maintaining your normal weight and leading an active lifestyle.
Diabetes Management in Dallas, Texas
At Prime Internal Medicine Associates, we offer comprehensive chronic disease management and tailored treatment plans for a wide range of conditions, including type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes, to all patients within the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We are dedicated to patients’ long-term care and wellness and ensure each of our patients is treated on an individual and personal level. We utilize a combination of advanced evidence-based medical care alongside holistic treatment methods such as natural supplements and lifestyle changes to improve health and well-being.
To learn more about our chronic disease management services, call us today at (972) 239-5445. To request a consultation with one of our board-certified internal medicine providers, use our convenient online appointment request form.