Diabetes – Myths and Facts

Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Having diabetes nearly doubles your chance of having a heart attack. The good news is that good diabetes control can reduce your risks for diabetes complications.

If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in saturated and trans fat, moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive

People with diabetes can't eat sweets or chocolate.

If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.

People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you're failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.

If I am diabetic and pregnant, I will pass on diabetes to my child

By being pregnant with preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes, one does not pass on diabetes to the new born. Tight control of diabetes in pregnancy can ensure a full term normal delivery, without any complications. The infant of the mother who has diabetes, may have a higher chance of developing diabetes in the future as an adult because of the hereditary factor rather than the ‘passing it on in pregnancy’ factor.

Artificial sweeteners are bad and can cause cancer

Artificial sweeteners are no longer considered bad leading to cancer. These myths were based on old studies conducted in 1970s, which have long now been considered based on newer scientific research. 2-3 tablets / sachets per day of artificial sweeteners such as Stevia, saccharin, aspartame are considered safe to be used by the general population, including pregnant women. They help to reduce the amount of caloric intake and blood sugar excursions, thereby keeping the blood sugars as well as weight under good control.