Common Misconceptions About Diabetes
As diabetes mellitus becomes more prevalent in our developed society, we need to clear up the many misconceptions about the condition.
Type 2 diabetes is very common and an ever increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. Out of the 29.1 million diagnosed cases of diabetes, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% to 95% of them.
By knowing more about the disease, we can do things to prevent the steep rise in its incidence, and hopefully prevent our children and their children from getting it.
Here Are The Most Common Misconceptions About Diabetes
“Diabetes only happens to old people.”
Diabetes can occur in a person of any age. For example, type 1 diabetes usually originates in children or young adults. It is an autoimmune disease that results in a lack of insulin being produced by the pancreas. Without insulin to counteract the elevations in blood sugar that naturally happen when we eat, the blood sugar becomes out of control. In type 2 diabetes, the main problem is one of resistance to insulin. There is often an increase in the level of insulin in the body but the insulin isn’t effective in getting the sugar into the cells.
One of the risk factors of type 2 diabetes is obesity, which can happen even in childhood. In fact, one of the fastest growing populations of people to get diabetes is children. The incidence of diabetes mellitus definitely increases with age but it is not confined to that
“You can’t get diabetes if it doesn’t run in your family.”
Diabetes is a complex disorder involving abnormal sugar metabolism. Doctors know that genetics plays a role in who gets the disease and who doesn’t get the disease but that this is just part of the picture. Diabetes is a problem of genetics and environment.
Even without a solid family history of diabetes, bad habits like not getting enough exercise or not eating properly can contribute just as much too getting diabetes as can your genes. There has been a vast increase in inactivity and the eating of processed, high sugar foods in society so that even people without a family history of diabetes can get the disease.
“Weight loss can cure diabetes.”
The truth is that nothing can cure diabetes once you get it. In most cases, diabetes mellitus is of the type 2 variety, in which the cells are resistant to the insulin the pancreas puts out. Insulin resistance tends to be more prevalent in people that are overweight but the underlying process is still there even if you lose the weight again.
Your blood sugar numbers might look a lot better on paper but you are still considered diabetic. For the rest of your life, you will live with the insulin resistance that just happens to be less of a problem when you are of normal or low weight. Even thin people, depending on other risk factors, can develop diabetes.
“You can’t eat any sugar if you have diabetes.”
Sugar intake isn’t the only problem in diabetes and even if you take in no sugar, you could have high circulating blood sugars. In the same way, you can consume some sugar while being a diabetic. It’s all about quantity of sugar and the balance of sugar as it pertains to the rest of your diet. In fact, up to 60 percent of your diet should contain carbohydrates, including simple sugars from fruit. Scientists now know that depriving yourself of simple sugars won’t necessarily eliminate the phenomenon of diabetes and that some sugar will not hurt you.
“Pregnant women can develop diabetes.”
There is a condition in pregnancy called gestational diabetes in which insulin resistance develops as a response to the hormonal milieu that is pregnancy. It can cause blood sugars to rise and to feed the unborn fetus too much sugar. A baby exposed to too much sugar in the uterus can become too big to be delivered naturally and its risk of stillbirth is greater. Fortunately, this kind of diabetes goes away once the baby is born and the blood sugars normalize. There is, however, a greater chance that a woman with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.