Nine Myths About Diabetes

There are many misconceptions about diabetes, here are nine of the more common ones.

Diabetes is an inherited disease – although having first-degree relatives with diabetes is considered a risk factor, a. person can develop diabetes even if they have no relatives with the disease

Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar - sugar does not play a significant role in a person developing diabetes because it only moderately raises blood sugar levels. Diabetes risk factors are both genetic and lifestyle related. The main lifestyle risk factor is being overweight.

Diabetes makes a person more susceptible to other illnesses – diabetes has a negligible effect on the immune system.

People with diabetes should avoid sweets and other sugary foods - diabetes is a condition where the bodies ability to produce insulin to control diabetes is impaired. Dietary sugar is not the same as “blood sugar” which is glucose. While sugar does raise blood sugar levels somewhat, other non-sugary foods are also converted to glucose in the body.

Insulin raises blood pressure and causes hardening of the arteries - there has been no conclusive evidence that insulin raises blood pressure significantly or accelerates atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Those taking insulin medication as a treatment for their diabetes should not be concerned that the medication will raise their blood pressure or cause atherosclerosis.

I don’t have diabetes because I have none of the symptoms - people with type 2 diabetes often have few or no symptoms therefore regular testing for diabetes is important if you believe you are at a high risk of developing the disease.

Fruit is a healthy food and therefore I can eat as much of it as I like - while fruits are healthy and nutrient dense some fruits should be avoided in large amounts because of their large sugar content. This includes fruits such as bananas, mangoes, and grapes. Fortunately most fruits contain high amounts of fructose which do not require insulin to metabolize and therefore can be safely eaten by diabetics.

Insulin is a cure for diabetes - insulin doesn’t cure diabetes, it only controls it. Once a person develops diabetes they will generally have it for the rest of their life. In some circumstances, people who make lifestyle changes can control their blood sugar levels without the need for insulin or other medications, effectively “curing” diabetes.

I have several first degree relatives with diabetes, therefore I am destined to get diabetes and there is nothing I can do about it – diabetes is a preventable illness, while having first degree relatives with diabetes increases your risk of getting diabetes, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.