You've been diagnosed with diabetes. Your life is so doomed you cannot even choose who you associate with anymore. Right? WRONG! Many of the myths surrounding diabetes are simply untrue. Let's take a look at four of those myths.
Myth number 1
People who have diabetes have to eat especially prepared diabetic foods and can never eat sweets or chocolate or even drink a glass of wine with a special meal. In fact, diabetics can't eat 'special meals' because those kinds of meals hold too much fat and other things the diabetic can't have.
Answer: This myth is totally inaccurate. A diabetic must be careful what they eat because their body does not produce insulin as a normally healthy person's body does. Insulin is the hormone the body uses to either burn the foods we eat as energy or store those foods for energy release at a later time. Diabetics must eat healthy diets because they have to control how nutrients are used in their body through artificial insulin or with pills that help the pancreas to produce insulin more efficiently. Most diabetics live very normal lives on a balanced diet of fruit, whole grains, complex carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins from lean meat, cheese or eggs. The so-called 'dietetic' foods often raise blood glucose to levels which cause more harm than good.
There is no reason why diabetics cannot eat cake or other sweetened deserts so long as their diet and exercise practices are well in sync with each another. Dieters as a rule follow far greater restrictions in their quest to loose weight than the diabetic does in his quest to maintain healthy insulin and glucose levels. In fact, many insulin dependant diabetics carry a small vile of sugar on their person at all times to consume if needed to overcome insulin reactions (the sudden drop of glucose due to too much insulin in the blood). Others opt for keeping a chocolate candy bar handy in case of an emergency.
Myth number 2
One person can catch diabetes from another person.
Answer: Absolutely not. While the causes of diabetes vary, the disease is not contagious. It appears that people who contract the disease may be predisposed to the condition through heredity. A person's race may be somewhat of a factor. African Americans seem more prone to developing diabetes than Caucasians.
In cases of Type l Diabetes, otherwise known as Insulin Dependant or Infantile Diabetes, heredity is a strong factor. If one or other parent has diabetes there is a greater chance their child will develop the disease. There is a connection to the condition called 'polyglandular autoimmune syndrome'. If a parent has this syndrome which also triggers thyroid and adrenal problems their child has a greater risk of developing diabetes.
Type I diabetes seems to develop more in cold weather or places where the climate is cold. Sometimes a virus appears to trigger onslaught of the disease. However, Type 1 diabetes appears less in people who were breastfed.
In Type II Diabetes - otherwise known as 'Adult Onslaught Diabetes--lifestyle and eating habits have a definite connection. Americans and Europeans tend to eat food rich in fat and carbohydrates while they tend to exercise less. Obesity is a strong factor in Type II Diabetes, especially for those people who have a history of diabetes in their family or have been obese for a long time.
Myth number 3
People with diabetes develop colds and other illnesses more easily.
Answer: No. If a diabetic pays attention to their physical and mental well being with proper nutrition, exercise and plenty of rest, they are no more likely to catch a cold than the non-diabetic is. Colds and flu in diabetics cause risk because blood glucose levels rise when one has a fever. This plus inactivity risk 'ketoacidiosis' (excessive loss of sugar through the urine).
Myth Number 4
Insulin is bad for you because it causes high blood pressure and weight gain.
Answer: No, in both cases. Insulin does not cause high blood pressure. In fact, well controlled blood sugar levels may actually help to lower the blood pressure. Both the UKPDS (United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study) and the DCCT (Diabetes Control & Complications Trial) have proven through thorough scientific research that proper glucose management with insulin by far overrides any and all concerns toward weight gain.
In conclusion, while diabetes appears to be on the rise, studies indicate its causes are a matter of lifestyle coupled by heredity. That is no different than acquiring arthritis as you age; or asthma through factors where you work. Arthritis and asthma are also life-altering chronic diseases but they, just like diabetes, can and are controlled through good eating habits, reasonable exercise and proper amounts of rest.
We seldom consider the very obvious fact that athletes who enter marathons (or other extreme physical activities) or those Hollywood types who go on drastic diets to prepare for a feature role in a film put their lives at far greater risk. They endure much more difficult regimens than anyone who has diabetes, asthma or arthritis.
While acquiring diabetes is not pleasant it shouldn't frighten you. Yes, it will alter your lifestyle, the way you approach life in general, the way you eat, rest and exercise but that need not be anything more than an aggravation…just an adjustment toward living a very healthy life.