Last year, the American Diabetic Association said that on average, Americans scored about 51 percent when tested on the facts about diabetes. Diabetes is a serious disease and with Type 2 diabetes on the rise, it’s important that we all know a little more about it. Here are a few of the most common diabetes myths and the truth behind them:
Myth: Diabetics can’t eat any sweets.
Fact: Sweets are not entirely off-limits, as long as they are eaten in moderation. A healthy meal-plan is important for diabetics, but it’s also important to everyone else. Processed and refined sweets should be limited but so should fruit. Many people make the mistake of thinking that fruit is a health food, so you can eat as much as you want. Fruit is very healthy, but it still contains a lot of sugar.
Myth: Diabetics can’t eat starchy carbs such as bread, rice and pasta.
Fact: Carbohydrates are part of a well-balanced diet, even for diabetics. Starchy foods are needed for proper brain and body function. When eating carbohydrates (this applies to everyone) make sure you choose whole grain options when available and avoid simple carbs. Don’t overload on carbohydrates and make sure to eat them along with a balanced meal. As you can see, a diabetic diet isn’t much different from what most everyone else should be eating anyway.
Myth: Obesity causes diabetes.
Fact: The ADA reminds us that, “many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.” Being overweight is definitely a risk factor for diabetes but there are also many others, including genetics, age and lifestyle. Obesity does not cause diabetes, but it can contribute to it.
Myth: Too much sugar in your diet causes diabetes.
Fact: Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and is triggered by unknown factors. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetics. Gestational diabetes is triggered because pregnancy hormones inhibit your production of insulin.
Myth: If you try hard enough, you can cure your own diabetes by making lifestyle changes.
Fact: There are cases where people make drastic lifestyle changes and nearly eliminate the symptoms of their disease. A balanced diet and exercise plan can make the difference between a short life and long one. However, there is no known cure for diabetes.
Myth: Diabetes is no big deal.
Fact: Diabetes should be taken very seriously. The ADA says that, “Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.”