12 Harmful Myths About Diabetes Debunked

June 07,2023 |
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Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding diabetes that can lead to confusion and misinformation. Here, we’ll debunk 12 harmful myths about diabetes and provide you with accurate information to help you better understand this condition.


1. People with Diabetes Shouldn’t Eat Fruit

One of the most common myths is that people with diabetes must abstain from eating fruit due to its natural sugar content. However, fruits are an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. While it’s true that fruits contain natural sugars, they generally have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Still, moderation and portion control are critical. If you’re unsure how much fruit to eat daily, consider talking to your doctor or working with a registered dietician with experience in diabetes management.


2. Eating Sugar Causes Diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, consuming sugar in moderation does not directly cause diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, while type 2 diabetes is influenced by genetic and lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and poor dietary choices. Eating sugar will not directly cause diabetes. However, excessive sugar consumption can contribute to weight gain, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Try to be mindful of your sugar intake and, whenever possible, opt for natural options over ultra-processed foods.


3. Only Overweight or Obese People Get Type 2 Diabetes

While obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, it does not mean that only overweight or obese individuals are affected. Other factors, such as genetics, age, and ethnicity, also play a significant role. Thin individuals can develop type 2 diabetes too. However, obesity is still a risk factor for diabetes, so if you’re carrying extra weight, it’s essential to utilize weight loss efforts. In fact, every 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) you lose is associated with a 16% reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes.


4. Sweets are Strictly Off-Limits if You Have Diabetes

Having diabetes does not mean you need to avoid sweets altogether. You can still enjoy sweet treats as part of a balanced diet, but moderation is essential as ultra-processed foods can harm diabetes management and progression. Carefully monitor your carbohydrate intake and consider the overall impact of your food choices on your blood sugar levels. Opt for healthier alternatives like fresh fruits or sugar-free options. Working with a registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan that incorporates your favorite treats in a controlled manner.


5. People with Diabetes Can’t Drink Alcohol

Moderate alcohol consumption is generally safe for people with diabetes. However, alcohol does affect blood sugar levels, and excessive intake can lead to hypoglycemia. Therefore, if you’re living with diabetes, it’s crucial that you make sure that you drink in moderation, monitor your blood sugar levels regularly, and eat a balanced meal when consuming alcohol. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.


6. You Can Only Eat Specific Foods with Diabetes

There’s no specific diabetes diet that works well for everyone. Instead, a healthy eating plan should focus on balanced meals that include a variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. The key is portion control and monitoring carbohydrate intake to manage blood sugar levels effectively. While some foods can help control diabetes and lower blood sugar, you’re not restricted to only eating certain items.


7. You Have to Follow a Special Diabetes Diet

You also don’t have to follow a “special” diabetes diet. A healthy, well-balanced diet emphasizing whole foods and portion control is suitable for managing diabetes. This allows you to eat a variety of different foods while still being able to enjoy your favorite dishes every once in a while. Just focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that help control blood sugar levels, promote overall health, and reduce the risk of complications at least 80% of the time. There are also some diets that can help you manage diabetes without too many restrictions.


8. Type 2 Diabetes Isn’t as Serious as Type 1 Diabetes

Another common myth is that type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, where the body's cells become less responsive to insulin.

The misconception regarding the seriousness of the two stems from the perception that type 1 diabetes, which typically develops in childhood or adolescence, requires insulin immediately. Without it, individuals with type 1 diabetes can experience life-threatening complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis. In contrast, type 2 diabetes can initially be managed through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. But over time, many individuals will require oral medications or insulin to maintain optimal blood sugar control.

Regardless of the differences, it’s crucial to understand that the seriousness of diabetes does not solely depend on the type but on how well it’s managed and controlled. Both types of diabetes require regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, adherence to a healthy lifestyle, and appropriate medical care. Individuals with both types of diabetes need to take their condition seriously and actively participate in their treatment plans to reduce the risk of complications and maintain optimal health.


9. Managing Diabetes Requires Insulin Injections

As mentioned, diabetes management doesn’t always require insulin. While it’s true that people with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections, it’s not always the case for those with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle changes, weight management, and oral medications. However, if your doctor prescribes insulin, it’s important to follow their treatment plan accordingly.


10. Insulin is Harmful

For some reason, there’s a misconception that insulin is harmful and taking it to help manage diabetes can lead to more complications than benefits. In reality, insulin is a life-saving medication that can help individuals with type 1 diabetes and some with type 2 diabetes avoid serious complications. Insulin therapy helps regulate blood sugar levels, preventing hyperglycemia and its associated complications. When used correctly and under the guidance of a doctor, insulin is a safe and effective treatment option. However, if you’re living with type 2 diabetes and don’t need insulin yet, trying other options can help manage your condition without taking insulin.


11. If You Don’t Have Any Symptoms, You Don’t Have Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex condition that can develop gradually over time. Due to this gradual progression, early signs of diabetes may go unnoticed or mistaken for something else. Regardless of your age, if you have risk factors for diabetes, regular check-ups and screenings are crucial for early detection and diagnosis. Elevated blood sugar levels can be detected through blood tests even if symptoms are absent, thus increasing your chance of reversing prediabetes before it develops into type 2 diabetes. Never rely on symptoms alone, especially if you have a family history of diabetes.


12. Type 2 Diabetes Can’t Be Reversed

In the past, it was believed that once you were diagnosed with diabetes, the only thing you could do was prioritize management and focus on living a healthy lifestyle. While these things are still essential and type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition, new research has uncovered optimistic information. Type 2 diabetes remission may be possible for individuals who take a proactive approach to weight loss. This can be achieved through lifestyle interventions, bariatric surgery, medications, and more. Over time, with proper management, some individuals with type 2 diabetes may achieve normal blood sugar levels and no longer require medications.

Debunking these harmful myths about diabetes is crucial to avoid misinformation. The truth is that people with diabetes can lead healthy and fulfilling lives without having to excessively restrict themselves from the things they love. By focusing on living a balanced lifestyle while managing blood sugar levels, you can reduce the risk of complications and may even be able to reverse your type 2 diabetes. If you’re currently living with diabetes, work closely with your doctor to create an effective management plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. To help, Byram Healthcare has a range of continuous blood glucose monitors. We also offer diabetes support and educational materials to give you everything you need for comprehensive care.