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Dispelling Diabetes Myths

True or False: Dispelling Diabetes Myths
Diabetes is a common diagnosis; however there are still many myths out there about what exactly it is, how you can get it, and how to treat it. Read on to discover common misconceptions about the disease and educate yourself on diabetes.

1. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life- TRUE
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type one is more common to be diagnosed in children and adolescents. With Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin. Type 2 Diabetes is much more common, and typically occurs as an adult. The body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells no longer react to it. There is also gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy.

2. You can have diabetes and not know it – TRUE
Type 1 diabetes can occur very quickly, in just weeks to days, while type 2 diabetes can be silent and people may have it for years before they realise it. It is estimated that there are around 1 million people in the UK with Type 2 diabetes that have not yet been diagnosed. The NHS Health Check is offered to adults in England aged 40-70 to help to diagnose and spot the early signs of diabetes. Signs and symptoms include feeling thirsty, urinating frequently, fatigue, weight loss, slow wound healing, and blurred vision. A blood test is the only way to diagnose diabetes.

3. You can’t get diabetes if you’re thin- FALSE
Although type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity, it is not a defining feature. Around 20% of people with type 2 diabetes are normal or underweight.

4. Diabetics cannot eat sugar- FALSE
Diabetics need to be aware of all the food that they are ingesting, not just sugar. All carbohydrates get broken down into sugars, this not only includes bread and pasta, but even fruit and milk. Moderation is key, and careful planning is needed to ensure that if you are having sugar it is limited and not your main food. Talk to a dietician proper meal planning for diabetics.

5. Diabetes is curable- FALSE
Diabetes is currently not curable, but it is manageable. Some people are even able to get off of their diabetic medications with lifestyle changes and weight loss. This does not mean that it is “cured”, just that it is under control. Treatments for diabetes can range from diet changes to oral medication, to insulin injections.

6. Diabetes can cause blindness- TRUE
Diabetes has many complications associated with the disease, one of them includes blindness. Fortunately, this is preventable by having good blood sugar, blood pressure, and weight control. Smoking cessation also lessens your risk. Regular check-ups with your doctor are important in managing the disease. Additional health problems that can occur from uncontrolled diabetes include heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, infections, and kidney disease.

7. People with Diabetes shouldn’t play sports- FALSE
Exercise is important in a diabetic’s life to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sports are included and this and there are no reasons why a diabetic isn’t able to play. There are many professional athletes who have diabetes. Precautions need to be taken to ensure that the blood sugar level remains stable throughout the game.

8. Eating cheese reduces your chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes- FALSE
An American study done to see if diets high in dairy changed the risk of diabetes, and found some soft evidence that those who ate a lot of cheese, yogurt and buttermilk may have a lower risk. However when the study was down in Europe, it found that the results varied, with those in the UK with high dairy diets having increased risk! Overall, there was no hard evidence to suggest people change their dairy intake to prevent the disease. A balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, low in fat and salt, is proven to be the best way to combat the disease.

When researching about Diabetes, it is important that your information is coming from credible sources. When in doubt, speak to your doctor, healthcare professional or diabetes educator if you have questions.

Sources:
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diabetes/
https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/diabetesatwork/pdfs/DiabetesMyths.pdf
https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-myths.html
https://www.lep.co.uk/news/health/fewer-than-half-of-adults-have-free-nhs-midlife-mot-1-9326995
https://www.diabetes.org.uk/research/research-round-up/behind-the-headlines/could-eating-cheese-reduce-the-risk-of-developing-type-2-diabetes