There are millions of Americans who suffer from diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes. Despite its prevalence in our society, there are many misconceptions about this disease. Understanding the truth about diabetes can help you support friends and family with the disease and learn how you can lower your risk. Did you know that more people die from diabetes than breast cancer and AIDS combined? This chronic disease increases your chance of a heart attack and is not something to take lightly. Today, we’ll dismiss the myths associated with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Myth #1: Type 1 Diabetes Only Affects Children
Type 1 diabetes is traditionally called juvenile diabetes. However, that name is misleading. Type 1 diabetes only affects about 5% of the population with diabetes, but this percentage includes both children and adults. In fact, type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in more adults than children. Type 1 diabetes describes someone whose body does not produce insulin. In a healthy body, carbohydrates are broken down into blood glucose, or blood sugar, and used for energy. Insulin is required to move the blood glucose from the bloodstream to your body’s many cells. When it is not distributed to the cells, glucose builds up in the blood which produces a number of life-threatening problems. Daily insulin therapy is necessary for someone with type 1 diabetes.
Myth #2: If You’re Overweight, You’ll Develop Type 2 Diabetes
Being overweight increases your risk for a number of health problems, but it does not mean you will develop diabetes. However, to lower your risk of diabetes, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet and stay active. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and protect your body from the risk of many diseases. Other risk factors for diabetes include age, ethnicity, and genetics. You may be more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes if there is a family history of diabetes, you are Latino, African American, Native American, or Pacific Islander/Asian American.
Myth #3: If You Eat Too Much Sugar, You’ll Develop Type 2 Diabetes
While too much sugar is harmful to your body, consuming it does not directly cause diabetes. However, the consumption of sugar and sugary drinks can raise the blood glucose level in your body which is harmful for everyone, and can be especially dangerous for someone with diabetes. A diet high in sugar is linked to weight gain and can increase your risk of developing diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body is insulin resistant, meaning it does not use insulin properly. The glucose cannot travel to your body’s cells which can cause irregular blood sugar levels which can be harmful to your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.
Myth #4: Everyone with Diabetes Gets Insulin Shots
Most people with type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent, meaning they require daily shots of insulin. Those with Type 2 diabetes may find other ways to regulate their blood sugar levels. In some cases, diabetics with a healthy diet and active lifestyle can learn to control their blood glucose. Other circumstances call for an oral medication. The best way to regulate blood sugar and uphold a healthy diet is to consume small portions of food high in sugar and salt on a limited basis. Instead, the bulk of your diet should consist of lean protein, healthy fats, whole grain, non-starchy vegetables, and fruit. This is the recommended diet for everyone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle.
Myth #5: If I Have Gestational Diabetes While I’m Pregnant, I’ll Have Diabetes After Birth
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed if a woman has high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, typically around the 24th week. This does not indicate the presence of diabetes before pregnancy, and it does not ensure that she will have diabetes after giving birth. With gestational diabetes, the mother’s body becomes insulin resistant as a result of the hormones in the placenta. When the body is not able to make enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the bloodstream and be converted into energy which equates to high levels of blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia. If not treated correctly, gestational diabetes can cause problems for the baby by significantly increasing the child’s risk for obesity and the development of Type 2 diabetes. If you’re concerned about gestational diabetes, talk to your OB about the glucose tolerance test. If you have questions about diabetes or have a family history of diabetes and want to be tested, schedule an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today. Our amazing doctors are also available to talk to you about the steps you can take today to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Do something about your health today, diabetes is not worth the risk.