Updated: Jun 16
Diabetes Week 2021 - This week is dedicated to fighting some very common Diabetes myths and to hearing stories about them! Read all about the important facts below, and do not forget to get in contact if you feel like sharing!
Myth 1: Diabetes only affects overweight people.
Diabetes is a mostly lifelong condition characterised by high levels of glucose in the blood. This is the result of the body not producing enough insulin, not producing it at all, or not being able to use it effectively.
There are two main types of Diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 means that the body cannot produce any insulin, while in type 2 the body cannot make enough insulin, or it cannot use it effectively.
Type 2 Diabetes is often associated with overweight individuals; however this does not mean all diabetics are overweight. According to Diabetes UK, around 20% of people with type 2 Diabetes are either of a normal weight or underweight.
Being overweight is only one of many risk factors for the development of type 2 Diabetes, along with age, ethnicity, and high blood pressure.
Myth 2: Type 2 Diabetes is just a mild form of Diabetes.
Insulin plays an essential role in everybody’s lives: consuming carbohydrates causes a spike in glucose (blood sugar), which is a signal for your pancreas to produce insulin. This is the hormone that converts glucose into energy for your body.
For a type 2 diabetic, there is either a decline in insulin production from the pancreas, or the body can’t effectively convert the blood glucose into energy. People with this condition then experience ever rising levels of blood glucose even despite the production of insulin, because the latter is not working properly. This pushes the pancreas to produce more and more insulin to the point of eventually shutting down the production completely.
According to Diabetes UK, around 90% of the people affected by Diabetes in the UK have type 2 Diabetes. This does not imply that this type is less serious because it is more widespread. On the contrary, if left untreated and uncontrolled the high blood sugar levels can cause serious complications including damages to eyes, heart, and feet.
Myth 3: Diabetic people can only eat diabetic food and no sugar.
In 2016, the NHS said that there is no specific diet for diabetic people. Nevertheless, many people affected by Diabetes tend to prefer a low-carb diet to be able to have a tighter control on their blood glucose levels. Diabetic or not, the NHS still recommends everyone have a healthy and balanced diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt but rich of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The so-called ‘diabetic food’ is one of the most common myths recently. This label is mainly put on sweet foods where sweeteners are used instead of sugar, thereby attempting to reduce the amount of carbs.
‘Diabetic food’ may seem like a harmless marketing term, but leading authorities on the matter suggest avoiding such products with synthetic sugars as they may cause more harm than normal sugar.
Myth 4: People with diabetes cannot do sports or drive.
The idea that people affected by Diabetes are dangerous drivers is completely false. A few people associate the increased risk with the possible occurrence of hypoglycaemia which is (even if not commonly known) absolutely preventable.
Statistics show that diabetic people are just as safe compared to non-diabetic drivers, with accidents attributable to hypoglycaemia episodes affecting less than 0.2% of drivers with insulin treatments.
On the matter of sports, the impression is often that diabetics are unwell and unable to live a normal life, let alone play sports. On the contrary, people affected by Diabetes are very much encouraged to take part in exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Moreover, many professional sportsmen and women proved this myth wrong time and time again!
Myth 5: People with diabetes are destined to go blind and lose their legs.
Serious complications can occur if the disease is left untreated and uncontrolled.
Specifically, serious damage can be caused to the eyes, heart and feet; it remains one of the leading causes for amputations and blindness every year.
Fortunately, the damage is preventable with the vast majority of diabetics being able to live their lives without complications.
They can achieve this by participating in annual diabetes medical reviews and controlling their blood pressure, glucose, weight, and smoking habits.
Myth 6: Type 2 Diabetes can be cured.
There is lots of debate on the matter of curing Diabetes. While when it comes to type 1 possible solutions are still very much in the initial development stage, type 2 Diabetics however can explore a relatively new concept in blood glucose management: Diabetes remission.
Diabetes remission allows patients affected by type 2 Diabetes to have healthy levels of blood glucose without taking any Diabetes medication, this is achieved with a specific diet and a weight loss program. Whilst there is not enough research and evidence to confirm whether Diabetes remission is a permanent solution, the results are promising. Those finding success in remission still require periodic medical checks.
For now, it is generally accepted that both types of Diabetes are not curable.
Myth 7: Diabetes is not a serious condition.
Diabetes can cause serious complications if left untreated and not kept under control and is therefore a very serious condition with complications including significant and often life-threatening damage to the eyes, the heart and feet.
Sadly across the globe, Diabetes is said to be responsible for 4.2 million deaths.
A healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and regular medical checks will assist in keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range. Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in lowering the risk of complications, and consequently improve life expectancy for diabetics.
As we can see, Diabetes is a significant and growing challenge across the world. It has many consequences, both for the individuals involved and societies as a whole. This is a key reason why we believe our work on optical screening and monitoring devices has the potential to have such a significant impact.
Even if you’re not directly affected by diabetes, the chances are you know someone who is. Join our community to share your story, hear the stories of others and help us deliver a 21st century solution that is long overdue.