Diabetes Week is a highlight in the Diabetes UK’s calendar when we ask our supporters come together to raise awareness of the condition and raise vital funds for our work. This year it takes place from Sunday 12 to Saturday 18 June 2016.
This year the Diabetes Week theme is Setting the Record Straight. So many myths surround the condition and it is time we separated fact from fiction.
Just about everyone has heard about diabetes. With 4 million people diagnosed in the UK, most of us know a friend or family member living with the condition or are living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes ourselves. . Despite this, the chronic condition is i still hugely misunderstood.
This year, Diabetes UK will be focusing on what it’s actually like to live with it every day and talking about the things people with diabetes wish everyone knew about living with the condition.
For more information, go to www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetesweek.
Knowing the facts about diabetes is important when it comes to managing the condition. There is so much information out there, but it is not all true. It is often difficult to know what is right and what is not.
Myth: Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes
There is no such thing as mild diabetes. All diabetes is serious and, if not properly controlled, can lead to serious complications.
Myth: People with diabetes cannot have sugar
Having diabetes does not mean you have to have a sugar-free diet. People with diabetes should follow a healthy balanced diet – that is low in fat, salt and sugar. You should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar.
Myth: People with diabetes should eat ‘diabetic’ foods
‘Diabetic’ labelling tends to be used on sweets, biscuits and similar foods that are generally high in fat, especially saturated fat and calories. Diabetes UK does not recommend eating ‘diabetic’ foods, including diabetic chocolate, because they still affect your blood glucose levels, they are expensive and they can give you diarrhoea. So, if you are going to treat yourself, you should go for the real thing.
Myth: People with diabetes eventually go blind
Although diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK, research has proved you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes complications – such as damage to your eyes – if you:
- control your blood pressure, glucose, and blood fat levels
- keep active
- maintain your ideal body weight
- give up smoking.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t play sport
People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Keeping active can help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease. Steve Redgrave, Olympic gold medal-winning rower, has achieved great sporting achievements in spite of having diabetes.
However, there may be some considerations to take into account before taking up a new exercise regime. Talk to your healthcare team for more information.
Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses
Not true. While there is some medical research that may suggest people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing illnesses, there’s nothing to prove this conclusively. But there are certain illnesses that are more common in people with diabetes, and diabetes may also alter the course of an illness – for example, a person with diabetes may become more unwell or be unwell for longer than a person without diabetes.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat grapes, mangoes or bananas
People sometimes think that if they have diabetes they can’t eat grapes and bananas as they taste sweet. But if you eat a diet that includes these fruits, you can still achieve good blood glucose control. In fact, grapes and bananas, like all fruit, make a very healthy choice.
Fruit is high in fibre, low in fat and full of vitamins and minerals. It helps to protect against heart disease, cancer and certain stomach problems.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t cut their own toenails
Not true: the general advice on toenail cutting applies to everyone. If you have diabetes you should keep your nails healthy by cutting them to the shape of the end of your toes. Don’t cut them straight across, curved down the sides, or too short. Remember, your nails are there to protect your toes.
It is safest to trim your nails with a pair of nail clippers and to use an emery board to file the corners of your nails. If it is difficult for you to care for your nails, you should seek help from a podiatrist.
It is important to realise that there is a lot of misinformation out there. Make sure you get your information from reliable sources, such as your diabetes healthcare team or Diabetes UK.