Eating your way to diabetes? Reversing diabetes? There’s a ton of false information out there about type 2 diabetes. But have no fear! The mySugr myth busters are back at it again, busting pesky rumors about type 2 diabetes.
We’re here to tell you to step away from the stereotypes! We want to put a stop to assumptions about how people with type 2 diabetes live their lives, and to do so, we reached out to diabetes monster tamers and asked them about the rumors they’re tired of hearing. These ranged from absurd to just plain annoying, and we’re ready to tackle them all!
False information affects our understanding of diabetes and creates negative stereotypes about those living with type 2. Let’s start clearing up the misconceptions about type 2 diabetes and treat those that live with it like the individuals that they are.
Myth #1: People With Type 2 Diabetes Have Always Lived An Unhealthy Lifestyle.
What a mistake to make! The idea that those living with type 2 diabetes lead an unhealthy lifestyle is unfair and it’s an assumption that those with type 2 deal with a lot. People and their diabetes monsters are all unique and they don’t all lead the same lifestyle. The fact is, you can also develop diabetes if you lead a healthy lifestyle.
A balanced diet, combined with regular exercise, can prevent diabetes from breaking out, but a diagnosis is always down to a combination of factors. Genetics and the communication between cells also have something to do with a type 2 diagnosis. So let’s not stereotype our type 2’s! Just because diet can influence a diabetes outbreak doesn’t mean an unhealthy lifestyle was, or is the case, for everyone living with type 2 diabetes.
Myth #2: If You Eat Too Much Sugar Or Fat, You’re Guaranteed to Get Type 2 Diabetes.
To all those living diabetes-free, have you ever been teased about your sugar intake? Ever been warned that you’re eating your way to diabetes? Don’t be fooled! This common assumption just goes to show how much misinformation is out there. Let’s clear things up.
You cannot eat your way to diabetes. It’s true that an unhealthy lifestyle can trigger a diabetes breakout, but sugar consumption alone won’t cause type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Being overweight is indeed a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and sugary foods drinks can cause weight gain because of their high calorie content.
So if too much sugar is causing a weight gain, this is how your chances of developing type 2 diabetes increase. But don’t forget! Diabetes develops due to a number of reasons and sugar intake alone is very unlikely to cause diabetes.¹
Myth #3: If You Need to Take Insulin, Type 2 Diabetes Turns Into Type 1 Diabetes.
Ever thought that type 2 diabetes turns into type 1 when starting with insulin? Fake news! It’s not only type 1’s that have to take insulin on a regular basis. In some cases, people with type 2 diabetes also have to inject insulin.
While type 2 diabetes can indeed be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, insulin intake is sometimes also necessary. Because diabetes is progressive, people with type 2 might have to start taking insulin after some time. But just like how wearing an eyepatch doesn’t mean you’re a pirate, taking insulin doesn’t mean you have type 1 diabetes. Arrrr!³
Myth #4: Type 2 Diabetes Can Be Permanently Reversed With a No Carb Diet.
Think cutting carbs will cast a spell that makes diabetes disappear? Unfortunately, a no carb diet won’t do the trick. Carbs themselves don’t cause diabetes! Yes, carbs raise blood sugar levels but so do other things. In fact, some healthy carbs contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fibres which are an important part of a balanced diet. A diet that’s healthy and lower in carbs can prevent type 2 diabetes from breaking out, but low carb eating shouldn’t be no carb eating.⁴
Myth #5: Only Adults Can Get Type 2 Diabetes.
Sadly, diabetes doesn’t come with an age limit. While type 2 diabetes used to affect adults for the most part, it is possible for young people to be diagnosed with type 2 as well. In fact, more and more children and teens are now being diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes in children and teens is also caused by certain environmental factors, as well as lifestyle and genetics. Just like grown ups, therapy for youngsters uses diet, exercise and medicine to improve the body’s control of its blood sugar levels. Some kiddos may also need to take insulin to help manage their type 2 diabetes.
Myth #6: If You Have Type 2 Diabetes, You Can Eat Sugar-Free Food Without Restriction.
This is a mySugr myth buster public service announcement: Sugar-free is not the same as carb-free! It’s not necessarily a food’s sugar content that people with diabetes are worried about; it’s the carbs. Carbs increase blood sugar, which means people with diabetes need to keep an eye on those carbs! It’s true that sugar is a type of carbohydrate and reducing it can help keep blood glucose levels under control. But watch out! Products that are labeled ‘sugar-free’ don’t necessarily have zero carb content.⁵
Myth #7: Diabetes Is Contagious.
Is diabetes contagious? Let’s be clear: Of course not! Diabetes isn’t anybody’s fault. It’s an auto-immune disease that impacts millions of people around the world, but it is NOT an infectious disease. The causes of diabetes are complex, but human contact isn’t one of them. The next time you meet a diabetes monster tamer, don’t be concerned about catching their diabetes! Instead, let them know how much you support them when it comes to tackling their diabetes monster.²
Taming the diabetes monster is tough enough without having to fight off false rumors. Unsure about an aspect of type 2 diabetes? Don’t be afraid to ask! The mySugr myth busters are here to remind us that people living with diabetes are all individuals, with different diabetes monsters to tame. So let’s step away from the stereotypes and work towards achieving a better understanding of type 2 diabetes!
Hey, over here! If you’re a journalist that landed on this article while researching diabetes, we have another piece for you. Here you will find hints and tips on how to use the right language when writing about any kind of diabetes: https://www.mysugr.com/en/blog/10-tips-writing-diabetes/
All information in this article is based on the following sources:
1. 10 Things That You May Have Heard About Diabetes That Aren't True. Diabetes Digest.
http://diabetesdigest.com/tag/diabetes-rumors/ (Accessed December 16, 2020)
2. Is Diabetes Contagious? And Other Myths Debunked. Healthline.
https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/is-diabetes-contagious#can-you-eat-sugar (Accessed December 12, 2020)
3. Type 2 Diabetes. Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Type 2 diabetes. (Accessed December 13, 2020)
Sarwar N, Gao P, Seshasai SR, Gobin R, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio et al. Lancet. 2010; 26;375:2215-2222.
5. About type 2 diabetes. NHS.
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/ (Accessed December 19, 2020)
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Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.