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In the UK, around 4.8 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, according to Diabetes UK. By 2030, this figure could rise to 5.5 million people (about 1 in 10 adults). With diabetes cases on the rise, you may have heard about some myths or untruths. We are here to debunk 12 diabetes myths.

Myth 1 – You will develop diabetes if you’re overweight

One of the biggest myths surrounding diabetes is that you can only develop the disease if you’re overweight. That’s because one of the most significant lifestyle risk factors is obesity, and it’s true that people who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes.

However, many people who are overweight never develop diabetes. it’s also possible for someone who is a healthy weight to develop diabetes. Other risk factors can also increase the risk of diabetes, including poor diet, age, and genetics.

Myth 2 – My family don’t have diabetes, so I won’t get it

Similar to the last myth, many people believe that diabetes is only caused by genetics. As a result, people think that because their family don’t have a history of diabetes, they won’t develop the disease or are at less risk.

The truth is that having a close family member with diabetes does increase your risk of developing diabetes. However, other risk factors mean that you can still develop the condition, even if you don’t have a family history of diabetes.

Myth 3 – You can only eat sugar-free treats like Chocolate

Once you have diabetes, you must eat sugar-free alternatives like chocolate and biscuits. As these items are sugar-free and marketed towards people with diabetes, many believe they must replace standard products with sugar-free alternatives.

More often than not, replacing standard products with sugar-free alternatives can be a mistake. Even though these products are marketed for diabetics, they may be worse. These products can still be high in saturated fats and calories.

They also use a sweetener instead of sugar, which can have a laxative effect if consumed in large quantities. You can still eat standard food products with diabetes. However, you must be careful how much you eat to avoid a blood sugar spike.

Myth 4 – Eating too much sugar causes diabetes

Another diabetes myth is that eating a diet high in sugar is a direct cause of diabetes. This is because of the confusion with the sugar our bodies produce when we eat, called glucose.  Insulin moves glucose (or blood sugar) around the body to our cells for energy.

The truth is that eating a diet high in sugar is not a direct cause of diabetes. However, it can be an indirect cause. High blood glucose levels are not a result of excessive sugar consumption. But a diet high in sugar can lead to weight gain (which does increase your risk of developing diabetes).

To prevent this risk, you should eat a healthy diet that doesn’t consume more calories than your body needs. The NHS recommends a daily calorie intake of 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. However, this can differ depending on metabolism, age, and physical activity.

Myth 5 – You have to inject yourself with insulin if you have diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that affects insulin, leading many people to believe that they must inject themselves with insulin if they develop the condition. This is usually done using an insulin pen, with a supply of insulin that must be kept in the fridge.

Most people with type 2 diabetes will not have to inject insulin. People with type 2 diabetes usually take medication to control blood glucose levels, and will only be required to inject insulin if no diabetes medications are effective.

However, people with type 1 diabetes must use an insulin pen, as the body cannot produce insulin. This is because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakes cells in the pancreas as harmful pathogens and attacks them. This results in the pancreas being unable to produce insulin.

Insulin is a vital hormone our bodies need to convert food into energy. It also helps regulate our blood sugar levels and moves glucose from our blood to cells throughout the body. If you cannot produce insulin with type 1 diabetes, you will need to inject insulin.

Myth 6 – I will go blind if I have diabetes

Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness. As a result, many believe that if you develop diabetes, you will go blind. While you may be at greater risk of losing your eyesight with diabetes, you can limit this risk by:

Myth 7 – You should limit or avoid exercise with diabetes

Another diabetes myth is that you should limit the amount of exercise you do or avoid altogether if you have diabetes. There is no truth to this myth and in fact the opposite is true. Keeping active and exercising reduces your risk of developing diabetes or diabetes complications.

Myth 8 – People with diabetes should cut carbs from their diet

Carbohydrates often have a bad name when it comes to diabetes, as these foods provide the body with glucose. Therefore, some believe you should cut carbs from your diet if you have diabetes. This is not the case.

Carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet, including those with diabetes. People with diabetes should incorporate carbs into a healthy diet. However, you must adjust the amount of carbs depending on changes to your blood sugar or A1c levels.

Check out our complete guide to measuring A1c levels with the A1cNow

Myth 9 – It’s not safe to drive if you have diabetes

Another myth about diabetes is that it’s not safe for someone with the condition to drive. Research has identified that people with diabetes are no less safe on the roads than people without diabetes, as long as you manage your diabetes well.

Read more about driving with diabetes.

Myth 10 – You are more likely to get ill with diabetes

Having diabetes does not impact how often you get ill. However, the severity of infection can be greater in those with diabetes. That’s because managing blood glucose levels is more difficult for those with diabetes and can lead to a weakened immune system.

Were you aware of any of these diabetes myths? With many myths and misconceptions surrounding diabetes, it can be difficult to know what to believe. We hope we addressed any myths or uncertainties you may have thought were true about diabetes.