Did you know that over 4 million people in the UK are currently living with diabetes? According to Diabetes UK, this translates to 6% of the UK population. What about worldwide? Well, it’s estimated that over 415 million people are living with this condition. That’s almost 7 times the size of the UK population!
The facts and figures above which show the extent of diabetes are concerning, but what about those “facts” that are actually further from the truth? Common diabetes myths can stir up negative assumptions and portrayal about the condition itself, making it increasingly difficult for people living with diabetes.
So, we’re myth-busting five common points about diabetes and laying those Chinese whispers to rest. These common myths have been doing the rounds for many years and contribute to the stigma of the condition, so it’s important for us here at YorkTest to highlight these harmful myths and to set the record straight.
Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar
Do you have a sweet tooth? You may have heard the flyaway comment that eating too much sugar can give you diabetes. Sugar has had a bad name in the press recently, including the recent introduction of the sugar tax and how it could contribute to our expanding waistlines if we overdo it. The onset of this condition isn’t caused by simply eating too much sugar though; Diabetes isn’t this straightforward.
To break it down, there are two types of diabetes. It’s thought that Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The cause is unknown, but genetics has been shown to play a part. Type 2, on the other hand, can develop from your lifestyle habits and genetics. These factors can cause insulin resistance which is the most common cause of Type 2 diabetes.
You’ll be glad to know that sugar doesn’t necessarily give you this condition, but it can contribute to weight gain due to the high calories found in many sugary foods and drinks. As Type 2 diabetes can be exacerbated by lifestyle factors, it is important that you maintain a healthy weight and a well-balanced diet.
If you’ve overindulged in the sweet stuff today, don’t worry! You can’t get diabetes from eating too much sugar in one day. You don’t need to go sugar-free in the long-term, but just make sure everything you eat is in moderation.
You only get Type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight
Diabetes is not always weight dependent – even the slimmest people can be diagnosed with the condition. Historically, the media and other outlets have portrayed diabetes as a self-inflicted condition caused by eating too much, expanding waistlines and not exercising regularly, but this is far from the truth. There’s much more to diabetes than you may think.
If you compare a lean person and an obese person with uncontrolled diabetes, there’s one thing they will both have in common: high blood sugar. In fact, assuming diabetes is only a condition that affects obese people is a dangerous myth.
Stress, genetics, inflammation, and inactivity are not always attributed to obesity, yet these are all markers of diabetes onset. The chronic condition can affect anyone at any age, and of any size!
Type 2 diabetes isn’t as serious as Type 1
This is simply not true. It’s not the case of which one is worse: Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes? The development between both conditions varies but they are both serious medical conditions which need treatment to keep blood sugar levels under control.
In many cases, Type 2 can be controlled with effective lifestyle and dietary changes. If a person’s weight is an issue, they can engage in regular physical activity and maintain a balanced diet to potentially control symptoms. It’s even possible to come off diabetes medication in some cases. However, Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, and can only be controlled with insulin injections or pumps.
For both diabetes types, you can run into multiple health issues if the condition isn’t kept under control or you are not taking care of yourself.
People with diabetes can only eat diabetic food
Totally wrong! In more recent times, there has been an influx of diabetic food to cater for people with the condition. Just like going gluten-free, there’s a wide range of gluten-free product available at the supermarket, but there’s a whole host of other options available at your fingertips without this labelling, such as vegetables, selected crisps, nuts, seeds and meat.
For people with diabetes, they can look out for the ‘diabetic’ label which is most often used on sweet treats, but there are endless other options available.
Living with diabetes doesn’t mean that you need to have a boring, flavourless diet. A lot of specifically labelled diabetic food will naturally raise blood glucose levels, due to the sugar content, anyway, so it’s important that diabetics have a well-rounded diet.
Diabetes doesn’t show any symptoms
Luckily, if your body is struggling to keep your blood sugar levels down, your body will try to tell you it’s not performing as optimally as it should, before the condition worsens. The most common symptoms of diabetes are:
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination or urine infections
With that said, it is estimated that a third of all people who have Type 2 diabetes don’t actually know that they have it. So, what’s going wrong?
In the case of Type 1 diabetes, symptoms can progress relatively quickly. Type 2, however, can develop at a much slower pace and can often catch people by surprise. This could be why many people may feel some of these symptoms but disregard or easily miss them.
We feel that it’s always important you should talk to your GP, so if you’re needing prescription glasses, taking more bathroom breaks than usual or you’re tired most of the time, get it checked out.