6 Diabetes Myths DebunkedPosted by Medicare Made Clear
Diabetes is a complicated disease that is often misunderstood. If you have diabetes or know someone who does, there’s a lot for you to learn—including sifting fact from fiction.
Here are the truths behind some common diabetes myths.
Myth 1: People with diabetes can’t eat sugar.
Fact: A diabetes diet is no different from a diet that’s healthy for anyone—diabetes or no diabetes. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat or nonfat dairy and lean proteins are recommended. Foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugar should be limited. Some sugar may be part of your diet.
It’s important to work with a certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian to create a nutrition plan. The goal is for you to be able to have the foods you like while meeting your health needs.
Myth 2: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: Diabetes is not caused by eating sugar. Refined sugar that’s found in foods is completely different from “blood sugar.” Blood sugar is glucose, which is used by the body for energy. The body relies on insulin, a hormone, to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.
- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body stops making insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes—the most common kind of diabetes—occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes.
Without insulin, the glucose stays in the bloodstream. This is why people with diabetes may have “high blood sugar.”
Myth 3: I have diabetes, but I don’t have the serious kind.
Fact: All types of diabetes—type 1, type 2 and gestational (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy)—are serious. Your blood sugar levels will need to be monitored and managed to keep them in a healthy range. High blood glucose levels over time can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney failure and blindness.
You may need to take insulin or another medication to treat your diabetes. Blood glucose levels may be controlled with lifestyle changes alone in some cases.
Myth 4: I can’t exercise because I have diabetes.
Fact: Most people with diabetes should exercise. It is often part of a diabetes treatment program. Regular exercise helps your body use insulin better. Talk to your doctor first before you start or increase your activity.
Myth 5: I don’t have a family history of diabetes, so I won’t get it.
Fact: Many people who are diagnosed with diabetes don’t have a family history of the disease. And many people with a family history of diabetes never get it. Having a family history of diabetes does raise your risk, though.
You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by making some lifestyle changes. Type 1 diabetes is not a preventable disease.
Myth 6: My diabetes has been “cured.”
Fact: The only known “cure” for type 1 diabetes is pancreas transplant surgery. There is no known cure for type 2 diabetes.
Even if you don’t need insulin or medication, and your blood sugar levels are in control, you still have diabetes. If you stopped following your diabetes treatment plan, your blood sugar levels would eventually go up.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) may include a nutritional assessment and one-on-one counseling to help you create an eating plan that meets your health needs. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) may cover the service if you:
- Have diabetes
- Have kidney disease
- Have had a kidney transplant in the last 36 months
Your doctor may also refer you for MNT. Talk to your doctor about diabetes. He or she can help you separate fact from fiction.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Diabetes Risk Test: Take the test to see if you are at risk and what you can do to help prevent diabetes.
Medicare & You: Get the U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook.