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Is Sugar to Blame? Debunking 8 Common Diabetes Myths

By Skye Sherman  •   April 15, 2024

Photo Credit: by Pexelbay Following
Photo Credit: by Pexelbay Following

While almost everyone is familiar with diabetes, not everyone knows the truth about this unfortunately common disease. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding diabetes, even though it’s a global issue.

Did you know that, according to the International Diabetes Federation, “Approximately 537 million adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes. 643 million by 2030.” In addition, it’s responsible for millions of deaths each year.

That’s why it’s so important to know the truth about diabetes! Read on to learn how many of your beliefs about diabetes are common myths.

Myth 1: Diabetes is caused by overeating sugar, so diabetics can’t eat sugar.

Many people think that people with diabetes eat too much sugar, but the idea that type 2 diabetes results solely from sugar consumption overly simplifies the complicated nature of diabetes.

While diet does play a role, in reality, type 2 diabetes develops from a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, including obesity and physical inactivity. In addition, the disease involves insulin resistance, where the body doesn't use insulin effectively, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

As Diabetes Voice explains, “100% of the carbohydrates we eat (grains, fruit, dairy, even vegetables) are converted into glucose for energy. Insulin unlocks our cells so glucose can get inside. In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, the cells that produce insulin are destroyed, so blood glucose (sugar) levels rise to dangerous levels. In type 2 diabetes, a metabolic condition, there is a problem in how the body processes insulin.”

As you can see, consuming sugar in excess can lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes, but that doesn’t make it the direct cause. Other unhealthy lifestyle factors (including overeating processed food) also increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, but they are not the sole cause.

Myth 2: You can cure diabetes or stop taking diabetes medications once your blood sugar is under control.

There’s always a new trend or fad making the claim to be able to cure diabetes. You may have heard that cinnamon, bitter melon, turmeric, stone fruit, or hibiscus leaves can cure diabetes.

However, the truth is that no magic food, drink, or supplement can cure diabetes. There is no cure for diabetes.

The truth is that the most important thing a person with diabetes can do is control their blood sugar, as Duke Health puts it, because “left unchecked, high blood sugar can cause permanent organ damage.”

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, some herbs and foods may improve a person’s insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance, but they do not cure it outright. When it is detected very early, some people can reverse the disease with major lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet along with exercise under doctor supervision, but this is more like remission (that needs to be managed for life) rather than a cure.

Although some diets and supplements can help manage blood sugar levels, they are part of a broader treatment plan that includes medication, exercise, and dietary management. Common diabetes medications include Rybelsus (Semaglutide) and Januvia (Sitagliptin).

Duke Health also states, “With some exceptions, most people will need more than one medication to maintain good blood sugar levels over time. Some medications have been shown to reduce the risks of cardiovascular and kidney problems clearly and should be taken by anyone with or at high risk for these conditions.”

As you can see, effective diabetes management requires a holistic approach tailored to individual health needs, and there is no one-size-fits-all cure.

Myth 3: Your diet cannot affect your diabetes.

What you eat significantly affects diabetes management. A balanced diet with controlled portions of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats can help maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Did you know that people with diabetes can still eat sugar? Contrary to the belief that people with diabetes must avoid it altogether, the key is moderation and understanding how different foods affect blood glucose levels.

However, scientists do believe there’s a link between soda consumption and type 2 diabetes. Medical News Today reports, “One large study published in 2013 found that, even after controlling for energy intake and body mass index (BMI), drinking soda has links with an increased risk of developing the disease. The study did not find this association in relation to other drinks, such as artificially sweetened beverages and fruit juices.”

If you want to lessen your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it’s a good idea to cut out soda.

Myth 4: Type 1 diabetes is more severe than type 2 diabetes.

Did you know that type 2 diabetes is far more widespread than type 1? Medical News Today reports, “At least 90% of people with diabetes in the U.S. have type 2.”

While type 1 diabetes usually appears earlier in life and requires insulin for management, type 2 diabetes can also have severe consequences, including heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney failure.

As the British Heart Foundation explains, “Even if you don’t have to take medication to control it, Type 2 diabetes is not a mild form of diabetes. It’s important to control your condition well to avoid developing complications, which can include sight loss and even amputation as well as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”

Both types of diabetes are serious and can lead to severe health complications if not managed properly. Neither type is more serious; both demand careful, lifelong management and changes to lifestyle, diet, and more.

Myth 5: Only children develop type 1 diabetes/only older people develop type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults but can occur at any age. Similarly, while type 2 diabetes is more common in people over 45, it is increasingly seen in younger people, even children, mainly due to rising obesity rates.

Diabetes Voice reports, “Today, adults happen to be the largest growing segment of people with type 1 diabetes. Additionally, adults are often misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes instead of type 1 diabetes because of their age, weight, or race (the risk of type 2 is higher in certain ethnic populations). … Today, type 2 diabetes is developing in children, young adults, and, especially, at an alarmingly high rate in people in their 30s and 40s worldwide. Type 2 diabetes is occurring in an increasing number of children and adolescents as rates of obesity continue to rise.”

Myth 6: Diabetes is uncommon, and you shouldn’t be worried about it.

Diabetes is a global epidemic; millions of people worldwide have diabetes. Its prevalence and the severe health complications it can cause make diabetes a significant public health concern.

The Myshortlister.com reports the following vital diabetes statistics:

• “537 million people between 20 and 79 live with diabetes.

• 783 million diabetics worldwide by 2045.

• 29.2% or 15.9 million American seniors aged 65+ have diabetes.

• 283,000 Americans under the age of 20 are estimated to have the disease.

• 54% of the 1.2 million are children under 15.

• One person dies every five seconds due to this condition. This accumulates to 6.7 million deaths. “

That’s why it’s so important to take diabetes seriously. It is a widespread issue and a common cause of death around the world.

As Medical News Today reports, “Complications include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, blindness, skin conditions, and hearing impairment.”

This disease is something to take very seriously!

Myth 7: Smoking and drinking don’t affect diabetes.

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate diabetes complications. Smoking increases cardiovascular risks, while heavy drinking can lead to erratic blood sugar levels, making diabetes more challenging to manage.

If you have diabetes, keeping smoking and drinking to a minimum or cutting it out altogether will be necessary if you want to live a long life or thrive. Working to quit smoking would be the best bet.

Myth 8: Diabetes makes you overweight, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Diabetics can be very active! While there is a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes, diabetes doesn’t automatically lead to weight gain, and many people with diabetes are thin rather than overweight. The truth is that diabetes can occur in people of any weight.

In addition, type 1 diabetes has no associations with body weight, while obesity and being overweight are risk factors for type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. At the same time, being obese does not automatically or inevitably lead to diabetes.

Conversely, weight management can be a crucial part of diabetes control. Through a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and medical management, individuals with diabetes can maintain or reach a healthy weight.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.