Diabetes is a devastatingly common disease in the U.S., affecting 30 million people, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Every year another 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, and it's ranked as the seventh-highest cause of death in the United States, though it is often listed as an underlying cause and not the primary factor in a person's death.
One problem perpetuating diabetes' deadly hold on the American population is the number of well-circulated myths people believe about it. The better you understand the truth behind those myths, the better you'll be able to protect yourself and your family members from the complications of developing and living with diabetes.
Which of these myths have you been mistakenly believing?
Myth: All overweight or obese people eventually develop diabetes
Fact: While being overweight is a risk factor for developing diabetes, it does not automatically cause your body to stop producing insulin or become insulin resistant.
The Mayo Clinic explains that a person's chances of developing Type 1 diabetes include a number of factors, including family medical history, environmental factors, the presence of auto-antibodies in the bloodstream, dietary factors and geography. Type 2 diabetes includes similar factors but is more common in people of certain races, women who develop gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome, those with sedentary lifestyles, and people with high blood pressure
Myth: Diabetes is something old people get
Fact: It's true that diabetes is highly prevalent in seniors. The ADA estimates that 25 percent of America's 12 million seniors have diabetes, though a number of them are likely undiagnosed.
However, more people are getting diagnosed with diabetes at younger ages every year. In 2012, there were 371,000 new diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults ages 20-44 and 892,000 new cases from ages 45-64, according to Healthline. That's compared to 400,000 new cases in those 65 and older.
Myth: People who develop diabetes can't have sugary treats
Fact: Those living with diabetes do need to keep careful track of their portion sizes and the amounts of carbohydrates they eat each day, but that doesn't mean they can never indulge in a sweet treat like ice cream or cake.
As long as they're managing their diabetes well and know the calorie content in the sweets they're eating, people with diabetes can eat the occasional dessert as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Myth: Managing your diabetes is all about dieting
Fact: Depending on whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, managing your diabetes involves a number of considerations, including regulating your insulin (if you have Type 1 diabetes), keeping track of your carbohydrate intake, getting regular exercise and learning how your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day.
Exercise is a key part of controlling Type 2 diabetes. In fact, blood sugar drops after exercise and is lower for the next 24-28 hours, diabetes nutrition specialist Sharon Movsas told health.com. Exercise also helps your body use insulin more efficiently and can lower blood pressure, which is a common concern in those with Type 2 diabetes.
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