diabetes myths and facts
Diabetes is a disease that affects over 34 million Americans. The name actually refers to a group of diseases that each affect how an individual’s body processes glucose, which is a key source of energy for the muscles and organs.
Despite its prevalence, there are many misconceptions about diabetes and its symptoms. We’ve outlined a few of them below.
Diabetes is Always Caused By a Poor Diet
Myth. Type 1 diabetes, which can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle, is an autoimmune reaction to glucose that stops an individual’s pancreas from creating insulin. This form of diabetes is thought to be genetic, though it does not always manifest at birth or in childhood. Certain environmental triggers, like viruses, have been found to cause Type 1 diabetes to manifest at later points in an individual’s life.
Additionally, for those that develop Type 2 diabetes, the cause of the disease lies in the body’s blood sugar, which is affected by more than just diet. Lack of exercise, illness, and high stress, as well as other diseases like pancreatic cancer, can all contribute to sustained high blood sugar levels. A healthy diet is still key to preventing Type 2 diabetes, but an overall healthy lifestyle is a more effective and holistic method to protect against high blood sugar.
Type 1 and Type 2 Are the Only Kinds of Diabetes
Myth. While Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the most common, two other kinds of diabetes can also occur
Prediabetes is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes does not have many common signs or symptoms, but it tends to coincide with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, and excess levels of triglycerides in the blood. Diet, activity, and alcohol/tobacco use all play a part in developing prediabetes, as due a handful of other diseases and/or conditions.
Gestational diabetes refers to a form of diabetes developed during pregnancy. Pregnant individuals who develop gestational diabetes did not have diabetes prior to their pregnancy, but experience difficulty producing insulin during their pregnancy. Though gestational diabetes generally disappears after pregnancy, it can cause increased risk for Type 2 diabetes as an individual ages.
Type 2 Diabetes Isn’t a Serious Health Condition
Myth. More people die from diabetes than breast cancer each year in the United States. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of heart attacks and other complications, making it one of the leading health risks to adults over 45. Strokes, eye problems, skin problems, and nerve damage are all possible complications caused by Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning that even in cases of excellent health management, the natural decline in the body’s ability to produce insulin will increase risk of diabetic complications. This natural decline can still be treated, but Type 2 diabetes cannot be taken lightly at any stage.
Those With Diabetes Can Only Eat Special Foods
Myth. What you eat with diabetes is still very much up to you. Sugary foods like soda, candy, and desserts are off-limits, as are highly processed foods like fast food and starchy snacks, but when it comes to overall diet, there are very few hard rules.
The American Diabetes Association recommends the Diabetes Plate Method, which is a system constructed to ensure that a diabetic individual creates meals with a focus on plenty of non-starchy vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and protein-dense foods. What foods make up each meals ‘plate’ are up to you, but the Diabetes Food Hub has suggestions to help build a better diet.
Diabetes prevention is an important part of any adult’s life. Healthier lifestyle choices will affect not just the risk of diabetes, but also decrease risk for a number of other diseases and conditions. Even for adults who are not at high risk of developing diabetes, it is important to have conversations with your doctor about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
For those with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends working with your doctor to develop a diabetes treatment plan that is unique to you. Diabetes can be effectively managed with the proper treatment plan, so it is important to stay educated and in communication with your doctor. For more information on diabetes and it’s symptoms, visit the American Diabetes Association.
For information on how Cosán can help manage chronic conditions like diabetes, check out our Chronic Care Management Services.