My name is Iulia and I am 24. Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and since then my life has changed forever. Moreover, I decided to join this community and share the things I have learned over the past years and maybe help others understand more about what this disease implies. For starters I thought of writing about some diabetes myths which I heard about many times and I was even asked about.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that is often not fully understood by the population. Many people believe that sugar / sweets and stress contribute to or are the main cause of diabetes or that the disease is very difficult to control. There are a number of myths circulating about diabetes, probably more so than other diseases. Here are the most common and scientific explanations to keep in mind.
1st myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes
Reality: This statement is not true, but not entirely false. Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) usually is developed at a younger age and occurs due to an abnormality that causes the pancreas to not secrete enough insulin, so sweets have nothing to do with it.
Instead, type 2 diabetes sets in because of the modern lifestyle, marked by a high-fat diet, lack of exercise and stress. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but it is not necessarily the sweets that lead to weight gain, but rather the large amount of high-calorie foods consumed daily. However, studies show that there is a link between the consumption of sweets and sour drinks and the onset of type 2 diabetes.
For this reason, the American Diabetes Association recommends avoiding or limiting the consumption of carbonated, energizing juices, sweetened teas, or "natural" fruit juices. Such drinks increase blood sugar levels and come with plenty of calories. For example, 300 milliliters of sweetened sour juice has over 150 calories and about 40 grams of carbohydrates, similar to the amount of carbohydrates contained in 10 teaspoons of sugar.
2nd myth: People who have diabetes have to consume special foods
Reality: There is no special food for people with diabetes, only healthy eating plans. These can be followed by both diabetics and perfectly healthy people.
Packaged foods with special “diabetes-friendly” claims may still raise blood glucose levels, are more expensive, and can have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols. Your blood sugar may not rise as much, but it comes with side effects that affect your stomach and digestive system. Studies show that artificial sweeteners increase insulin resistance and hunger. Not infrequently, people who try to reduce the number of calories end up eating more because of artificial sweeteners. It is best to exclude them from the diet. If you want something sweet, get the sugar from natural sweeteners or fruits.
3th myth: Diabetes is contagious
Reality: This is definitely false, you cannot can’t catch diabetes from another person who has the disease! Even if no one knows the exact reason why some people have diabetes, it is well known that diabetes is not contagious- cannot be transmitted such as cold or viral infection. But diabetes can be genetically inherited, in most cases of type 2 diabetes.
4th myth: Diabetic people cannot eat chocolate or sweets
Reality: If they are part of a healthy eating plan or are combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. There are no more restrictions for people with diabetes than for those who do not have the disease. The idea is to consume a very small amount and only occasionally, making up your menu mainly on healthier foods. Plus people with diabetes can often have low blood sugar and in such case it is necessary to eat sugar or foods based on fast-absorbing carbohydrates-such as sweets.
5th myth: People with diabetes need to avoid carbs
Reality: On the contrary, carbohydrates are an essential element in any balanced diet, whether you have diabetes or are perfectly healthy. They are the main source of energy for the human body. The whole body needs glucose, from the smallest cell to the largest organ, large consumers of glucose being the brain, muscles and liver. Consequently, carbohydrates must be part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but we must still make a clear distinction between refined carbohydrates - pastries, sweets, french fries - which are not needed in our body and complex carbohydrates - fruits, vegetables, cereals - which provide the necessary glucose.
6th myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and need insulin, it means you are not managing your diabetes properly
Reality: For most, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can maintain a healthy blood sugar level with oral medication. Over time, the body produces less insulin, and drugs are no longer enough to keep blood sugar at normal levels. It is not a bad thing to use insulin to balance your blood sugar level.
7th myth: Diabetic people are not recommended to exercise
Reality: According to another myth, people diagnosed with diabetes, considering themselves "sick", should not exercise. Most likely, the myth arose from the association with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and lack of energy for physical activity. In fact, there is no specific limitation when it comes to movement among diabetics. And the explanation is simple: insulin can make a person more active than usual (insulin being anabolic), due to the action of lowering blood glucose levels through treatment. The movement is really indicated for diabetic patients, in addition to drug treatment and a healthy and balanced diet.
8th myth: If the parent is diabetic then the child will be diabetic
Reality: For children whose parents are diabetic, it is considered that there is a greater chance of developing the condition than in the case of those who do not have parents with diabetes. The children, siblings and cousins of the diabetic patient should be regularly screened for the disease. Current statistics suggest that some children whose parents suffer from diabetes have at worst a 25% higher risk of being diagnosed with the disease than children with healthy parents. The situation is also valid if one of the grandparents had diabetes.
In conclusion, it is essential to know the truths and myths surrounding diabetes because only in this way all the question marks are clarified. It is important to find out as much information about diabetes as possible so that you can help both you and those close to you if you, your family or your friends has diabetes.