There are many misconceptions about diabetes. Below are a few of these misconceptions and the truth.
Myth: People get Type 1 diabetes from eating too much sugar
Reality: No one really knows how someone gets the disease.
It does not mean that the patient eats too much sugar. “Type 1 is like being hit by lightning, and it’s not anybody’s fault,” says Steven Griffen, MD who is a vice president for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Researchers still can’t pin down the real cause of this disease, but it means that the patient’s pancreas is not processing insulin the way that it should.
Myth: It is dangerous for people with diabetes to exercise or participate in sports
Reality: Patients can safely participate in sports or any other exercise program.
As long as the patient pays attention to his/her blood sugar levels, it is possible to participate in sports and even thrive as an athlete. Professional athletes such as tennis star Bill Talbert, boxer Jersey Joe Walcott, and golfer Sherri Turner are all Type 1 patients.
Myth: Diabetes is caused by being overweight
Reality: There are two very different types of diabetes.
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that never goes away, while Type 2 symptoms can diminish with weight management and dietary changes. Being overweight puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes, but Type 1 patients often find it difficult to gain weight.
Myth: Diabetics should avoid all sugar and carbohydrates
Reality: Diabetics can and should have some sugar and carbohydrates.
Did you know that diabetics also experience extreme lows in their blood sugar? Yes, it’s true. When a diabetic has a blood sugar nosedive, this is called hypoglycemia. The highs are referred to as hyperglycemia. Hypoglycemia can make the patient feel just as bad as if their sugar is too high. Hypoglycemia can be avoided by a regular intake of natural sugars, such as those found in fruit, and complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread and pasta.
Myth: Diabetes is easy to control.
Reality: Diabetes is hard to control, no matter how diligent one is with sticking to his/her meal plan and treatment schedule.
Treatment is ongoing. One misconception here is that people assume the patient “has it all figured out.” There are many things that can cause a diabetic’s blood sugar swings such as stress, hormone changes, growth spurts, and illnesses.
On the upside, there are so many more ways to combat Type 1 diabetes now than ever before. The medical device industry has advanced significantly in the past decade, and patients now have a plethora of options available to them to make life with Type 1 diabetes more manageable including insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and even an artificial pancreas.