Having type one diabetes is hard enough, the constant blood sugar checking, the injections, the finger pricks, watching and managing all food that I eat. However, there is one thing that is the worse thing about diabetes that beats all of these things; the constant judging and know-it-all people. The next couple of weeks on the blog I am going to bust all of these myths and hopefully teach some of these people a thing or two to help with the understanding of type one diabetes.
“You shouldn’t have grown up eating so much sugar”
There is a constant battle with this judgment thanks to the media, and it extends not only to myself but my parents so called feeding me too much sugar when I was younger and that is why I have diabetes. Or for some real out there people I have got this disease from being exposed to injections as a child, I was allowed to drink milk and eat gluten (crazy people).
The media do not ever determine if they are talking about type one or type two diabetes. With the big health crazy and health documentaries on TV1 and TV3 at the moment, the media are allowing the public to believe that diabetes is a reversible disease that occurs in people who are overweight and unhealthy. So, it is no wonder that the general public also cannot determine the difference between the two and believe that they are the same disease.
Yes, type two diabetes is a result of being overweight and the consumption of unhealthy foods especially those high in sugar. Insulin is constantly being released into the body to counteract the sugar consumed in food, and after a long period of time, the cells get ‘immune’ to the insulin. This is called insulin resistance and results in type two diabetes. Changing your lifestyle for a healthier one with less consumption of sugar and losing weight will reverse type two diabetes without any other complications occurring.
This is the type of diabetes that is most common in our modern day world, and the one that is spoken about in the media or any magazine that mentions diabetes. Even ‘Diabetic Living’, a diabetes magazine, is 90% about type two.
Out of the amount of people around the world, only 5% have type one diabetes. It is an autoimmune disease where your body starts to fight and kill off its own beta cells in the pancreas thinking that these cells are a virus and harming the body. How does this result in type one? The beta cells in the pancreas are the cells that release insulin, therefore, our bodies are unable to produce or release insulin into the bloodstream to counteract consumption of any type of glucose (this includes refined sugar, starch and non-starch carbohydrates, and protein in large consumption).
The only way to manage type one diabetes is to constantly monitor blood sugar levels and inject insulin. But Sam, you write about managing type one through a low carb diet? Touche! I do rely on a low carbohydrate diet as a personal choice so that I do not have to inject myself with as many injections as some other type one diabetics that a ‘normal’ diet. I use my short term insulin roughly 3-4 times a week due to my diet not spiking my blood sugar levels, I do need to use it for those other occasions that spike blood sugars such as periods, stress, or not getting enough sleep.
There are many diabetics out there that happily eat Mc Donalds, rice, sushi, cake and inject themselves with enough insulin to match a number of carbohydrates they are eating. Eating in this style means that they are relying more on their short-term insulin and are injecting themselves for every meal throughout the day.
But even then on a diet that does not spike my sugar levels, my body still has no beta cells left and cannot reproduce these cells to start producing insulin again. Every type one diabetic MUST inject themselves with at least one injection of a long lasting insulin to act as a constant injection of insulin (This is what your pancreas does automatically every day). People with type one diabetes must act as their pancreas as theirs do not work on their own anymore.
Type one diabetes can not be reversed and unfortunately cannot be prevented from living a healthier lifestyle.
Myth busted: before blaming someone with diabetes for eating too much sugar, or their parents for feeding them a few too many lollies, find out whether its type two or type one. This will also prevent you looking stupid for not understanding what type one actually is.
Don’t forget to check in next week for another myth buster blog post.