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Debunking the Top 5 T1D Myths

Kristen Garland | Diabetes Educator | Registered Dietitian

December 4, 2020

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. People with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) do not produce any insulin at all and require daily injections of insulin.

There are at least 463 million adults between (20-79 years) living with diabetes. Ten percent of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. T1D is often misunderstood, misrepresented and, sometimes, misdiagnosed. A quick search of the internet will provide you a lot of information about diabetes, but it's not always accurate. Making assumptions or decisions based on inaccurate or misleading information can actually be harmful for someone with diabetes While most information, anecdotes or advice is shared with the best of intentions, the impact of miseducation about T1D on people who are challenged by its demands every day of their lives creates additional obstacles to accessing necessary tools, resources, technologies, subsidies and support.

Let’s spotlight the top 5 most common myths and misconceptions about Type 1 Diabetes...

MYTH: If you eat a lot of candy, you’ll get diabetes.

FACT: Type 1 Diabetes is NOT caused by eating too much sugar. T1D is an autoimmune disease where antibodies attack our healthy cells, mistaking them for a virus and leaving those with T1D unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps us turn food into fuel for our bodies. People with T1D must inject insulin many times throughout the day or use an insulin pump to stay alive. People with Type 2 diabetes can produce insulin on their own, but they either don’t have enough or their bodies can’t use it properly. While exercising and eating healthy are key behaviours in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes care, these things alone cannot prevent, manage or reverse Type 1 diabetes.

MYTH: People with Type 1 Diabetes can’t have cookies or cake.

FACT: People with Type 1 Diabetes can eat anything they want. They DO have to carefully calculate the amount of carbohydrates in all foods and give insulin to help manage blood sugar levels, but – just like everyone else - treats and sweets in moderation are not restricted for people with Type 1 Diabetes.

MYTH: If you eat well and exercise every day, you can ‘reverse’ diabetes.

FACT: You cannot cause, catch or cure Type 1 Diabetes. It is an auto-immune disease, which means your body is attacking beta cells (insulin) thinking they are foreign. T1D strikes without warning and can be diagnosed at any age but will most likely occur in childhood. You cannot and will not ‘grow out of it’. It doesn’t matter if you are thin, fit or overweight. There are no known causes to developing T1D and there is no cure. However, people with T1D can and do successfully manage the disease by taking insulin, eating a healthy balanced diet and staying active.

MYTH: You can’t drive a car, fly a plane or play competitive sports if you have Type 1 Diabetes.

FACT: People with Type 1 Diabetes can do anything, including driving, playing sports, running marathons and flying or jumping from planes. Having T1D simply requires some pre-planning, extra monitoring, as well as having a snack before, during and/or after physical activities.

MYTH: ‘You’ve got the BAD kind of diabetes.’

FACT: There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ kind of diabetes. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are serious and can lead to complex health complications that will affect one’s quality of life and can reduce life expectancy if not well managed.

In the United States, alone, there are 64,000 people being diagnosed with diabetes every day. You can help support the more than 1.1 million children, adolescents and adults around the world who are living with diabetes by taking a minute to search, read and learn more about this chronic disease. For more information, please visit T1D Academy. Knowledge is power!

Contact us for more information or support in helping educate, advocate or provide healthcare related to Type 1 Diabetes.

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