Common misconceptions about being a Type 1 Diabetic
For those whose struggles with the daily roller coaster ride that we call our blood sugar life, it astounds those who know very little about Type 1 diabetes the great lengths to which we must go to simply not die….Whether you choose to use an insulin pump or are old school and do daily injections, the struggle of trying to constantly educate other about our condition is astonishing.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions:
1. Taking insulin cures diabetes.
Insulin doesn’t cure diabetes any more than an inhaler cures asthma. Insulin is simply a key. Insulin is the required hormone which is missing from the type 1 diabetic’s arsenal. Insulin is necessary to unlock the key on the cell’s receptor site. This receptor allows the insulin to bind to it and turns the key, allowing glucose to enter the cell.
2. Eating too many sweets caused diabetes
Here is the main confusion that exists between a type 1 and a type 2. The above is most likely true for that type 2 diabetic, as they have run their pancreas ragged with the ingestion of far too many “sweets” a.k.a. carbs. However for the type 1, it’s a totally different story. Type 1’s had an auto-immune response which made the body see the beta cell within the pancreas (the cells that produce insulin) as foreign invader and thus attacked and killed them.
3. Only kids get type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, also referred to as “juvenile-onset” diabetes was named so because generally it happens in childhood. In fact, around 18,000 kids are diagnosed with this disease annually. However it can happen in adulthood. Also, because Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, type 1’s are more likely to have other autoimmune diseases such as thyroiditis, celiac, etc.
4. Diabetes is reversible
Not in type 1, minus a handful of anecdotal stories which tell of the person halting the onset. According to the thinking, in the period when the beta cell are initially being attacked and type 1 is starting (sometimes called The Honeymoon Phase), if a person goes on a very low carb diet, then this can possibly halt the immune response. However, type 2 is highly reversible with dietary changes. In fact, there are many stories of gastric bypass patients who become “un-diabetic” almost immediately after surgery.
5. Type 1 diabetics shouldn’t play sports
Not true. As with all things in their lives, they must be cognizant of energy consumption vs needs. In fact, Olympic Medalist, swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. and NFL quarterback Jay Cutler are in good company with many successful type 1 athletes that haven’t allowed their disease to hold them back.