Here are some common myths pertaining to diabetes:
- MYTH: Sweets cause type-2 diabetes.
First, it's important to understand what exactly is type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes is associated with insulin insensitivity
or resistance, which can raise blood glucose levels above the normal range. The pancreas essentially loses its ability to regulate the insulin response needed to efficiently metabolize glucose (blood sugar). This can predispose the body's organs to dramatic fluctuations in sugar levels which can ultimately cause damage over time. The real culprit here is NOT sweets but rather lack of exercise or sedentary behavior that increases the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Exercise helps to regulate insulin so that the more active you are the more your body becomes insulin-sensitive
, meaning that the pancreas is more sensitive to responding to glucose fluctuations and adjusting its insulin secretions needed for efficient sugar metabolism. New research has shown that very low muscle mass can be a risk factor for insulin resistance. Thus, it follows that by increasing muscle mass, one may be able to improve his or her blood glucose regulation and therefore lessen insulin resistance. Indeed, a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinol Metabolism
(2011) found that higher muscle mass was associated with better insulin sensitivity. A low-sugar, high-fiber diet is also recommended to lessen dramatic insulin fluctuations (e.g., nuts, fruits, vegetables).
- MYTH: All diabetics are obese.
Obesity and/or being overfat is a risk factor for type-2 diabetes but typically type-1 diabetics are thin. The difference is the distinction between type-2 (non insulin-dependent) diabetes and type-1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes. The former is not
reliant on insulin injections because the pancreas is able to secrete insulin (although not quite as efficiently as a non-diabetic) whereas the latter is
reliant on insulin injections because the pancreas is not
able to secrete any or not enough insulin. Type-2 diabetes is associated with an inability to metabolize sugar which causes blood sugar levels to increase.
- MYTH: Diabetics cannot play sports.
play sports although they need to be very careful about managing their blood sugar levels.
- MYTH: Type-1 diabetes does not affect adults.
Type-1 diabetes, which used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes, is more common in young people but it can occur at any
- MYTH: Type-2 diabetics should avoid insulin shots for as long as possible.
There is no harm in injecting insulin when one is a type-2 diabetic because the body needs it for healthy sugar metabolism.
- MYTH: Type-1 diabetics should never eat sweet foods.
This used to be the prevailing belief but it is not true. With careful management of insulin injections, type-1 diabetics can
eat sweet foods occasionally but in moderation of course.
- MYTH: You're bound to get type-2 diabetes if it runs in your family.
There is some genetic component which may increase one's risk for developing type-2 diabetes, although this does not
mean you're destined to acquire this disease. Proper lifestyle behavior (i.e., regular exercise, healthy eating, avoid smoking, moderate alcohol intake) in conjunction with periodic health screening can delay if not prevent acquiring type-2 diabetes.