June 30, 2021

The 7 Most Common Diabetes Myths

Diabetes is a common disease these days. In the US, 34.2 million people (slightly more than 1 in 10) had some form of this condition in 2020, while 88 million adults (about 1 in 3) have prediabetes. Because of this,…

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Common Myths About Diabetes

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Diabetes is a common disease these days. In the US, 34.2 million people (slightly more than 1 in 10) had some form of this condition in 2020, while 88 million adults (about 1 in 3) have prediabetes. Because of this, it’s no surprise that it’s easier than ever to find advice about living with diabetes.

There’s just one problem: Not all the diabetes advice out there is accurate. Many myths related to diabetes have become alarmingly common over the years. Because of that, we here at US MED have taken it upon ourselves to separate fact from fiction. Keep reading as we debunk seven of today’s most common diabetes myths.

Myth: Being Overweight Means You Will Develop Diabetes

This myth is one of those sound bites with a kernel of truth to it – excess weight is known to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. However, the relationship between excess weight and diabetes isn’t nearly as strong as this claim suggests. Many people who are overweight don’t develop diabetes in their lives.

Additionally, people can develop type 2 diabetes even if they look thin! Roughly 10-15% of people with this form of the disease have a healthy weight. Type 2 diabetes in people who are not overweight is known as “lean diabetes,” which could be a “hybrid” between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It can be more challenging than usual for medical professionals to detect lean diabetes, but symptoms include excessive urination and thirst.

Myth: You Can’t Have Desserts or Sugar with Diabetes

eating-desserts-with-diabetesIn the past, you might have heard rumors that people with diabetes can’t eat anything sweet. Fortunately, that doesn’t need to be the case! You’ll need to do some planning ahead of time, but if you have a sweet tooth, this will be worth the effort.

Generally speaking, people with diabetes can safely add small amounts of “traditional” desserts to their diet. If you decide to go this route, counting carbs and regularly checking your glucose levels can make life easier. Alternatively, you can make desserts that are low in carbs and high in flavor – such as the sweets included in our diabetes-friendly recipe collection.

Myth: Sugary Drinks Cause Diabetes

This myth is another one partially based on the truth. Neither type of diabetes is directly “caused” by sugar intake, including sugary drinks. Instead, type 2 diabetes is caused by a person’s genes and lifestyle, while the factors that cause type 1 diabetes are not yet fully understood.

That said, high-calorie diets can cause weight gain, which is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Because of this, there is a potential link between the development of type 2 diabetes and consuming sugary drinks. So even if they can’t cause diabetes independently, overindulging on sugary drinks isn’t a good idea. That’s why the American Diabetes Association has encouraged people to avoid soda, fruit drinks, and other drinks in this category.

Myth: You Can’t Eat Starchy Foods with Diabetes

As is the case for desserts, people with diabetes can enjoy starches. This category includes foods like pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, and some other starchy vegetables. So even if you have diabetes, starchy foods can be a part of your diet – if you’re willing and able to think ahead.

The key to including starches in your diabetes-friendly diet is portion control. By keeping track of your carbohydrate intake, you can plan how small amounts of these foods will fit into your overall carb “budget” for the day. Additionally, it’s a good idea to choose whole-grain versions of bread, rice, and pasta. Since they take longer to digest, these will have less of an impact on your glucose levels.

Myth: You Have to Avoid Carbs with Diabetes

This principle doesn’t just apply to desserts and starchy foods, either. You should control carbohydrates in a diet designed with diabetes in mind, but you shouldn’t cut them out entirely. By counting carbs and controlling portions, you can eat a healthy amount of carbohydrates in your diet while keeping your blood glucose in check.

Myth: You Will Lose Toes, Fingers, Limbs or Go Blind with Diabetes

Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories where people with diabetes had to have limbs amputated or who went blind. Unfortunately, these stories likely aren’t made up – 73,000 adults with diabetes in the US had to have amputations in 2010, while diabetes is the biggest cause of blindness in people between the ages of 20 and 74.

So what makes this a myth, then? Blindness and amputations are both potential complications of diabetes, but they’re far from inevitable outcomes. Only a tiny percentage of people with diabetes in the US have to get amputations. At the same time, basic blood glucose management can go a long way towards preventing diabetic retinopathy.

Myth: Diabetes is Contagious

Unlike the flu, the common cold, and COVID-19, diabetes is not contagious. This condition does not put you at a greater risk of catching infectious diseases, either. So if you’re concerned about developing diabetes, put the mask down! Instead, your best bet is to take common-sense steps like getting enough exercise and cutting back on refined carbs.

Fact: US MED Has the Diabetes Info You Need

As you can see, misinformation about diabetes is running rampant in today’s world. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever to find a trustworthy source of information on this condition.
At US MED, we pride ourselves on offering fact-based articles about diabetes to people with diabetes and their loved ones. For more pieces like the one you’ve just finished reading, take a look at our official blog.

And don’t forget that US MED is your source for quality diabetes supplies, including CGM and smart insulin pens!

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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