Education on Diabetes

Myths vs truths about diabetes!

Diabetes is a widely misunderstood disease with people thinking they know a lot about it, but actually their knowledge is a bunch of myths. Keep reading for 5 myths and the correct facts!

MYTH 1 – People living with diabetes cannot eat carbs or sugar

The facts: Carbohydrates are not the enemy and that goes for people living with diabetes too! Eating carbs is a fundamental part of glucose control along with carb counting (calculating the amount of insulin needed per 10 grams of carbohydrate for the specific individual).

People living with diabetes can have puddings and sweet foods providing insulin ratios have been calculated. Furthermore, from my experience any food labelled as a ‘diabetic food’ are not worth buying! Rather than containing sugar they contain artificial sweeteners and additives and do not taste good! If I fancy a treat I just account for it in my insulin dose and prevent spiking after by going for a walk.

MYTH 2 – There are only two Types of diabetes

The facts: There are actually 10 known types of diabetes! Diabetes can arise for a variety of reasons. Here is a list and brief description of each type of diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes – Caused by autoimmunity.
  • Type 2 diabetes – Defined as cells having insulin resistance caused by lifestyle and/or genetics.
  • Type 3c diabetes – diabetes arising due to removal of part of the pancreas or damage caused from other illnesses, such as pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
  • Gestational diabetes – diabetes that arises during pregnancy due to changes in the body.
  • Neonatal diabetes – When diabetes arises under the age of 6 months.
  • MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) – Inheritance of a genetic mutation directly causing diabetes.
  • Wolfram Syndrome – Diabetes Mellitus is one feature of this disease, as well as Diabetes Insipidus (being unable to reabsorb water effectively), deafness and shrinkage of the optic nerve.
  • LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood) – Also known as Type 1.5 diabetes, meaning this disease can resemble Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Steroid Induced diabetes – People who take steroid based medications are more likely to develop insulin resistance.

MYTH 3 – Only obese people get Type 2 diabetes

The facts: Yes Type 2 diabetes can arise due to a sedentary lifestyle and a diet rich in refined and artificial sugars. But this is not the only reason people get Type 2.

Genetics also play a big role in getting Type 2. For example, African American’s and American Indian’s are genetically more likely to get Type 2.

Furthermore, Type 2 diabetes can also arise through ageing. As we age, cells can become more insulin resistant and have less receptors for glucose and insulin, making glucose control harder.

Therefore, it is unfair to always assume that a person living with Type 2 got Type 2 because they have an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’. This is not always the case and it is best not to pass judgement on the Type of diabetes an individual has.

MYTH 4 – Cinnamon and Chromium can ‘cure’ diabetes

The facts: cinnamon and chromium have shown in some studies that they help to increase ‘insulin sensitivity’. This means cinnamon and chromium help cells to increase the number of receptors for insulin, which makes the body more efficient and better at handling glucose.

While this is an important finding and could greatly help some individuals living with diabetes, it DOES NOT mean that diabetes will miraculously disappear after a few portions. Despite what some ‘specialists’ say in the media there is not a cure for diabetes. If there was a cure for diabetes, we would be the first to know, I can assure you every person living with diabetes wants a cure ASAP!

MYTH 5 – People living with diabetes are no fun to socialise with

The facts: This is a stigma and assumption I have heard from a lot of people! Just because someone has to check their sugar levels and take extra actions to look after their health does not mean they are ‘boring’, ‘a light weight’, or ‘hard to handle’. People living with diabetes can go out, have a drink and have fun just like other people!

This stigma is very much related to negativity about diabetes in the media and how it is spoken about, or completely neglected! The media likes to paint a picture of diabetes that is completely unrealistic. For example in TV shows diabetic characters always seem to faint and have something severely wrong with them. This is damaging to the representation of diabetes because it is educating people in the wrong way and creating a stigma that is just not true.

The important thing to take away from this point is yes, you should be educated about how to help someone who is having low or high sugar levels, but not to assume that a person living with diabetes always needs help and is always poorly.

A lot of the time when people first meet me, they have absolutely no idea that I have Type 1 diabetes until I tell them! Diabetes comes in all shapes and sizes!

Thank you so much for reading this weeks blog! I hope you learnt something new! Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you have about diabetes!