As with anything in life, misconceptions and myths are passed down and accepted as truth because nobody stops to think about challenging the status quo.
When you’re first diagnosed with a condition like type 2 diabetes, there are countless thoughts running through your head, many of them including “should’ve, could’ve, would’ves” and a long queue of other regrets. The way diabetes is often presented paints a pretty bleak picture—you couldn’t have avoided this, it’s in your DNA, you put yourself in this irreversible position because of the lifestyle choices you made ten years ago, and the list goes on and on.
Between the information your health care provider gives you and the countless articles you find on questionably reputable sites while perusing the web, it can definitely be hard to separate fact from fiction. The great thing about myths, though, is that they can easily be busted. So let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about type 2 diabetes so that we can finally put a handful of these myths to rest once and for all.
Myth 1: Blame Your “Bad” Genes.
The thing about this myth is that, although it has been said thousands of times to countless patients, there is no definitive evidence that proves type 2 diabetes is linked to any specific gene. Even if there were a specific gene responsible for the condition, it would only affect a small segment of the diabetes population.
The reason behind this myth’s popularity is the attitude it produces. Of course, finding the root cause of a chronic condition like diabetes will prove to be a lot of work. Mainstream practitioners will often throw your genes under the bus because any patient will resign themselves to the diagnosis. If it’s in your genes, there’s nothing you can do about it, right? It’s important to bust this myth so that diabetics can feel empowered to take control over their health; otherwise, giving up can be destructive for morale and overall health.
Myth 2: Blame the Scale.
Although there is a correlation between being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes, your weight is not necessarily a cause. As many functional medicine practitioners know, being overweight can often be a symptom of a deeper, underlying issue. Just like uncontrollable glucose levels, being overweight is a sign that something else in the body is malfunctioning.
If weight was the issue, how would we explain the overweight individuals who have escaped their “destined” diabetic fate? How would we explain those with a healthy BMI who found themselves suffering from the same diagnosis?
But as mentioned before, it’s easier to state a cause then scavenging for the actual cause, so this particular myth is definitely a chart-topper when it comes to the popular excuses.
Myth 3: Blame Your Nonexistent Gym Membership.
This is a very common myth that serves as both a cause and cure in that practitioners will often say that a lack of exercise leads to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, but they will also instruct the newly diagnosed patient to begin an exercise regimen.
This is a very classic situation in mainstream medicine. Functional medicine practitioners, however, realize that while exercise may help some patients keep their symptoms at bay, exercise (or lack thereof) is not a causative factor of diabetes, nor will it serve every diabetic the same way.
For some patients, an intense exercise regimen may actually put more stress on the body and end up doing more harm than good.
Myth 4: Blame Your Faulty Pancreas.
The most famous myth is probably the one that blames your pancreas. While it is true some type 2 diabetics’ bodies can’t produce adequate levels of insulin, there is a significant portion of the diabetic population that have no problem producing it.
The relationship between insulin and diabetes is not the lack of insulin, but rather the diabetic body’s inability to effectively utilize the insulin it produces. This particular myth might even be the most dangerous out of them all, as it typically leads to insulin therapy treatments. While these will help the diabetics who don’t produce enough insulin, injecting more insulin into a body that already produces enough can actually cause some long-term health issues and exacerbate already frustrating symptoms.
When it comes down to it, the only things these myths can diagnose is a bad case of laziness. The issue with these myths is that they assume each diabetic is exactly the same—that the treatment doesn’t have to suit the individual, just the condition. The only reason some mainstream practitioners perpetuate these myths is so that they can avoid having to dig deeper and deconstruct the condition to find the real cause.
But let this be a cure. It’s time to stop accepting these myths as fact. Let’s bust the myths so we can beat this disease.