Myth and Facts

Myth:Diabetes is caused by severe stress or sadness due to a sudden incident.

Fact:Stress does not directly cause diabetes. It "activates" already preexistent "dormant" diabetes. Moreover, once diabetes is diagnosed, stress and unfortunate events may increase counter regulatory hormones; thus significantly increasing glucose levels.

Myth:A woman with diabetes cannot have healthy children.

Fact:With proper care, glycaemia management, and regular consultations with a healthcare team, a woman with diabetes can have healthy babies without the disease. Diabetes is not a contradiction to pregnancy nor to breastfeeding. The mother can have a healthy pregnancy as long as glucose levels are closely monitored and can safely breastfeed her baby after delivery, providing all the benefits of human milk without any risk on their health.

Myth:Eating sugar causes diabetes.

Fact:Sugar does NOT cause diabetes! Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the β-cells of the pancreas are destroyed, leading to a deficiency of insulin. It is not induced by lifestyle. . Type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent type of diabetes, is typically caused by having excess weight and leading a sedentary lifestyle, which leads to a resistance to the action of insulin. Although eating sugar does not directly cause diabetes, however, it is always recommended to have healthy eating habits and incorporate regular physical activity to keep a healthy weight and avoid metabolic dysfunctions. Although it is ok to indulge every now and then, it is not recommended to consume sugary foods in moderation.

Myth: If you need insulin, you have a bad type of diabetes.

Fact: Insulin is a hormone normally secreted by the pancreas to facilitate the entrance of glucose into body cells; thus lowering glycemia and producing energy. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is not able to secrete insulin anymore, and external insulin needs to be provided. In this case, we are just replacing a hormone normally found in our body. In some patients with type 2 diabetes, insulin therapy may allow them to attain better glycemic control. Each patient is different, and only your healthcare team can decide what is the best treatment option for you. It is not the need for an insulin regimen that causes danger.

Myth: I have borderline diabetes, little diabetes, or just a bit of diabetes.

Fact: Once the diabetes diagnosis has been made, the person is considered to have overt diabetes and is at risk of all diabetes complications. There are no degrees of diabetes and the term "a little" diabetes does not exist. You either have diabetes or you don't. However, a "pre-diabetes" state exists. This stage is manifested by slightly elevated glycemia and insulin resistance. In cases of pre-diabetes, lifestyle management, healthy nutrition, and increased physical activity can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. However, overt diabetes is a chronic lifetime condition, which is not reversible.

Myth: Diabetes complications are inevitable.

Fact: Amputation, blindness, dialysis, cardiovascular diseases are all complications of uncontrolled diabetes. However, these complications do not result from diabetes; they result from uncontrolled diabetes. Studies show that the complications can be delayed and even prevented with strict glycemic control and diabetes management through a healthy lifestyle, physical activity, and regular medical check-ups. These three steps taken together, along with the proper intake of prescribed medication can delay and even prevent kidney failure, amputation, and all other damaging complications.

Myth: I can feel if my blood sugar is high or low, there is no need to regularly measure it.

Fact: In fact, people only sense moderate to extreme glycemic deviations. They will not feel slight disturbances. In addition, the symptoms of hyperglycemia (high glucose) and hypoglycemia (low glucose) can be similar sometimes, and sometimes people may confuse and mistreat the issue. Even though the personal judgment of glycemic deviation is important, there is only one way to be sure: always check your glucose levels and keep your testing supplies with you at all times!

Myth: People with diabetes must follow a special diet and buy “diabetic food”.

Fact: Any food is suitable for diabetes in moderate amounts! The diet intended for people with diabetes is very similar to the healthy eating patterns recommended for the general population. The so-called "diabetic foods" usually do not provide any additional benefit, they are more expensive and they may have a mild laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth I can’t have sweets, I have diabetes.

Fact: A person with diabetes can have sweets as part of a healthy varied meal plan that is combined with physical activity as per dietitian recommendations. The absolute ban on simple sugar has been lifted. However, it is important to limit those sweets for they contain empty calories, lots of sugar, lots of saturated fat, and very little nutrients. Remember if your glucose levels go down, there is nothing like some juice or sweets to raise it up again!

Myth: Brown bread is better than white bread to control glycemia.

Fact: White bread and whole-grain bread both contain similar amounts of calories and practically the same amount of carbohydrates (approximately 80 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate for 1/2 small pita loaf - 30 g). However, whole grain bread contains dietary fibers, which help maintain weight and cholesterol control, and minerals, that are essential for diverse body functions. Fibers also slow down the speed of glucose absorption therefore avoiding spikes in glycemia. This makes whole grain bread the better choice for diabetes management.

Myth: Carbohydrates are bad for your diabetes.

Fact: Almost half of your daily caloric intake should come from carbohydrates. They are your source for energy and your brain needs them to function properly. You should always correctly choose the type and amount of carbohydrates as guided by your dietitian. Choose whole-grain complex carbohydrates and increase your carbohydrate intake from vegetables and legumes which are rich in nutrients and dietary fibers. Remember, moderation is key. It is all about the type and quantity!

Myth: Fruit juice is better than carbonated beverages to control blood sugar.

Fact: ½ cup of fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as in ½ cup of carbonated beverage. Juice has more nutrients but both soft drinks and juices raise your glycemia. Try to opt toward the water and sugar-free tea or coffee as your source of fluids. Whole fruits are richer in fibers than juices and will have a lower impact on your glycemia. However, if you like juice and soft drinks, limit them to once a month as part of your meal plan and as guided by your dietitian.

Myth: I have brown sugar instead of white sugar to control my glycemia.

Fact: Brown sugar contains a similar amount of sugar and calories as white sugar (1 teaspoon is equivalent to 5g of sugar and 20 Kcal). The difference is that brown sugar is coated with molasses which gives it a darker color. If you decide to have brown sugar, make sure to count the carbohydrate inside!

Myth: People with diabetes should not exercise.

Fact: People with diabetes can engage in any physical activity they want as long as they are eating well and checking glycemia regularly. It is recommended to properly plan your exercise as directed by your doctor and dietitian. Choose the right exercise for you, drink plenty of water, and control your glycemia. Exercise may cause hypoglycemia so make sure to be prepared and always carry a fast-acting carbohydrate snack with you.

Myth: When my blood sugar is low, I directly grab a piece of chocolate.

Fact: Chocolate often contains a significant amount of fats which cause delayed in digestion; thus, decreasing the rate of absorption and response in raising glucose levels. When we have hypoglycemia, chocolate or any other carbohydrate high in fat will not elevate glycemia as rapidly as desired. The best thing to do is to have one of the following: 2 small candies, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/2 cup of juice, or 1/2 cup of regular carbonated beverage.

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