Four Myths About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a serious, chronic medical condition that causes blood sugar (glucose) levels to increase higher than normal. It is the most common form of diabetes. Diabetes affects how your body turns food into energy. When you eat, food is broken down into sugar, or glucose, by your body and released into the bloodstream. As your blood sugar rises, your pancreas releases insulin, which allows your body’s cells to use blood sugar as energy.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body has a difficult time making or using insulin, leaving you unable to maintain blood sugar levels. This can result in many life-threatening complications and health problems, including heart disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), eye damage, kidney failure, skin problems, hearing problems and leg, foot or toe damage that leads to amputation.

There can be a lot of confusion about type 2 diabetes causes and treatment. Here are four myths about type 2 diabetes:

Myth #1: All types of diabetes are the same.

All types of diabetes are not the same. In fact, there are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction that causes the body to stop making insulin—it is most often diagnosed in childhood or in young adults. Type 2 diabetes occurs in adults, but is being diagnosed more frequently in younger people and is preventable through weight loss, a healthy diet and being active. Gestational diabetes occurs in some pregnant women who do not have diabetes otherwise and goes away after the baby born. There is another, less common type of diabetes known as type 1.5 diabetes, or latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). LADA is often misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Myth #2: People who have type 2 diabetes should quit sugar completely.  

People with diabetes should eat a healthy diet, which means a diet lower in sugar. But it does not mean “no sugar.” What is important is the type of sugar – choosing foods with natural sugars like fruit over added, refined sugars.

Myth #3: Type 2 diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of lifestyle behaviors and genetics. Factors that increase the risk of diabetes are obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of the disease. While sugar, a high-calorie food, can contribute to weight gain and obesity, consuming it alone does not cause diabetes.

Myth #4: Diabetes is a common condition that isn’t a big deal.

Diabetes is a common condition, but it is not one you should ignore. It can lead to serious complications, and even death. The sooner you can change your lifestyle to add physical activity and healthy eating, the better quality of life you can expect.

“Making lifestyle changes is important to reduce your risk of diabetes or to reverse the condition,” said Erin Zepp, MS, RD, CDE, diabetes program coordinator for Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center. “Memorial’s Weight Loss & Wellness Center has a comprehensive team to support patient needs. Our patients have access to physical therapy, behavioral health and medical treatments to help patients meet their goals.”

Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Take the prediabetes screening tool and speak with your doctor about your concerns. To get started with diabetes prevention or weight loss programs, contact Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center.

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