Type 2 Diabetes is a complex and difficult condition to manage. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a host of complications such as a heart attack, stroke, and permanent vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. Proper facts and nutrition information can help you manage the disease effectively and reduce your risk for diabetes complications.
Here are some common myths that we have untangled to give you the truth about the disease:
Myth: Type 2 diabetes / Mild or borderline diabetes is not that serious
Fact: All types of diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2, are serious and can affect the quality of life, lead to complications (raising the risk for heart attacks, permanent vision loss and other health problems) and reduce life expectancy if not managed well. Diabetes is a silent killer and responsible for more deaths per year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
Myth: Eating too many sweets causes type 2 diabetes
Fact: Type 2 diabetes is not directly caused by eating too many sweets, but by other risk factors such as lifestyle factors (how much physical activity you get), obesity, genetics (family history), ethnicity, and age. A diet that is high in calories from any source (including sugar) can lead to an increase in weight gain and this in turn can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Myth: I do not have a family history of diabetes, so I don’t have to worry
Fact: While family history is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, there are various other factors that can increase your chance of developing diabetes.
Myth: Only overweight people can get type 2 diabetes
Fact: Anyone can develop type 2 diabetes due to lifestyle factors and genetics. Though overweight and obese people are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, people who are of healthy weight or those who are moderately overweight can also become diabetic.
Myth – Only old people develop type 2 diabetes
Fact: While type 2 diabetes affected people who were in their 50s or 60s in the past, it is increasingly being diagnosed in younger adults who are in their 30s and 40s, due to sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, excess body weight and stress.
Myth: Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are easy to spot
Fact: Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be so mild and the disease progresses so slowly that many people may not even realize that they have diabetes for many years. Common symptoms of type 2 diabetes, such as frequent urination, increased hunger, extreme thirst, weight loss, slow healing wounds and blurred vision tend to show up after glucose levels have been high for a long time.
Myth: Once you develop diabetes, you have it for life
Fact: Generally, people who are overweight and do not exercise as much as they should tend to develop type 2 diabetes. If such people make lifestyle changes immediately after diabetes is diagnosed, lose extra weight by cutting down on portion sizes, and start exercising regularly, the diabetes process can be reversed.
Myth: Herbal supplements can cure type 2 diabetes
Fact: While some herbs and supplements can help stabilize blood sugar levels, there is no miracle herb that can eliminate type 2 diabetes. However, these herbs and supplements can be taken in addition to the standard medication prescribed by the doctor, to help manage the disease better.
Myth: Exercising is not safe as it can cause my blood sugar levels to drop
Fact: While strenuous physical exercise for an extended period of time can lower blood glucose levels and lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), this can be prevented by checking blood sugar levels before and after the workout.
However, do not let the fear of hypoglycemia put you off exercise. Regular exercise, in addition to proper meal planning, taking medications as prescribed, and stress management can help you control and maintain your blood sugar levels adequately. When you exercise, your muscles use more glucose in your blood and make the insulin in your body work better. The benefits last for hours after your workout and your blood sugar levels are lowered over time.
Myth: You can go blind or lose a limb with type 2 diabetes
Fact: Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious damage to other organs and lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and loss of a limb. However, the risk of developing other health complications can be greatly reduced with good control over blood glucose levels, taking the right medications on time, following a healthy diet, exercising frequently and maintaining an ideal body weight, along with regular blood, urine and eye exams.
Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to fall ill
Fact: Being diabetic does not increase your chance of developing a cold or other illness. However, any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and can lead to serious complications.
Myth: I should not get pregnant if I have type 2 diabetes
Fact: Women who have type 2 diabetes can have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby if they manage their blood sugar levels well.