Dispelling Diabetes Myths
What’s true – and what’s false – regarding this disease?
“Nearly 24 million Americans live with diabetes,” notes Donna L. Henshue, RN, Morningstar’s Coordinator of Residential Health & Wellness. “But a great many misconceptions persist about the disease. Here, we’ll distinguish between what’s rumored and what’s real.”
Myth: You can’t prevent Type II diabetes.
Fact: False: Even if one or more of your relative have diabetes and you may be more susceptible than most, you can indeed prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. In fact, losing just 5% to 7% of your body weight can reduce your risk. Tip: Make healthy eating choices, and resolve to exercise 30 minutes on five occasions throughout each week.
Myth: Eating too many sugary foods can cause diabetes.
Fact: True, sort of. While sugar is often seen as the bad guy, it’s not the only one. If other unhealthy foods such as ice cream, pastries, chips, and greasy burgers are too much of your diet, you’re increasing the risk of gaining weight – and developing diabetes. Tip: As with most things, moderation in any dietary intake is often key.
Myth: If you have diabetes, you should stick with diabetic or dietetic versions of foods.
Fact: False. The American Diabetes Association says that these foods offer no special benefit and may still raise blood sugar levels. What’s more, many have a laxative effect. Tip: Don’t fall into the habit of eating all-that-you-want portions or servings of fat-free or sugar-free foods; they are not calorie-free!
Myth: People with diabetes are more susceptible to other illnesses.
Fact: False. People with diabetes are not any more likely to get sick than others, but you should take precautions since infections interfere with blood sugar management. Tip: To help stay healthy, get an annual flu shot and wash your hands frequently.
Myth: If you have diabetes, you’ll eventually suffer complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure or lower-limb amputations.
Fact: False. By getting your blood sugar and cholesterol under control, and by maintaining a healthy blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of developing complications.
“A final piece of advice,” says Henshue. “Have your A1C level measured regularly to determine your average blood glucose. With this test, your physician can tell how well you’re doing over the long term to keep your blood sugar level under control.”