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From Old Wives’ Tales to Fake News: Diabetes Myths vs. Diabetes Facts

Diabetes myths have been passed down for decades — and the internet has made spreading misinformation easier than ever. Now, a well-meaning patient can hop on social media and share something they heard about diabetes with thousands of followers, without any proof to back it up, making myths widespread … and hard to shake.

In a world of made-up health news, how can diabetes patients get the right information?

Below, we’ll debunk some common myths about diabetes and provide you with the diabetes facts you need to live a healthy, active life.

Common Diabetes Myths, Debunked

When it comes to diabetes, there's no shortage of misleading information.

This isn't just frustrating, it can make it harder to manage your diabetes — and can even be dangerous. That's why it's so important to separate facts from fiction.

Here are some of the common categories of myths you'll hear:

Myths and Facts About Diabetes Risk

Diabetes Myth: If you have diabetes, you can feel it

Diabetes Fact: Diabetes often presents no symptoms, making regular testing crucial

Many people believe they will immediately feel the symptoms of diabetes, but the reality is that diabetes is often asymptomatic, especially in its early stages. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22.8% of adults with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Early symptoms of diabetes, such as extreme thirst, frequent urination, and unintentional weight loss, can be mild or even absent. This is why it’s important to get tested if you experience any potential warning signs or if you have risk factors for diabetes.

Diabetes Myth: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar

Diabetes Fact: Sugar isn’t directly correlated to the development of diabetes

A lot of people think eating sugar directly causes diabetes. This confusion comes from the fact that when we eat, our food turns into glucose, a type of sugar. Glucose is carried by the blood so our bodies can use it for energy.

But just because glucose is a type of sugar, it doesn’t mean eating sugar will cause diabetes all on its own.

Instead, diabetes happens when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or it doesn’t use it properly. This means extra glucose stays in the blood, raising blood “sugar” levels. That said, eating a diet high in sugar may lead to outcomes like weight gain, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes Myth: Only overweight individuals get diabetes

Diabetes Fact: People of all sizes and shapes can get diabetes

Weight is not a factor in Type 1 diabetes at all, as it’s a genetic disease.

And while excess weight can contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes, being overweight isn’t a guarantee you’ll develop the disease. While diabetes can be correlated with weight, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Many other factors can contribute to your risk, including:

  • Genetics
  • Family history
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor eating habits

And being in the normal weight range doesn’t ensure you won’t develop the disease, either. In fact, about 12.5% of U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes have BMIs that are in the healthy or normal range.

Diabetes Myth: Diabetes is a disease of the old

Diabetic boy

Diabetes Fact: The disease can affect people of all ages

People of any age can develop both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Currently, adults represent the largest growing segment of those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As it turns out, many adults are misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes due to factors such as age, weight, or ethnicity, even though they may actually have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, once considered a condition primarily affecting older adults, is now increasingly seen in children, young adults, and particularly those in their 30s and 40s. This rise is closely linked to increasing rates of obesity, making type 2 diabetes a growing concern across all age groups.

Myths and Facts About Your Diabetes Diagnosis

Diabetes Myth: Diabetes is not a serious disease

Diabetes Fact: Diabetes complications can be deadly if not treated

Because diabetes is so common, with so many patients living full, healthy lives, it’s understandable that you might think diabetes isn’t something you don’t have to take all that seriously.

But it is. Diabetes can lead to complications that impact nearly every part of the body. These complications include:

  • Eye problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Nerve damage
  • Poor circulation

And when diabetes is not well-managed, it can result in serious long-term complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

The good news? The reason this myth sticks around is because diabetes is relatively easy to manage. With the right diet, education, and tools like CGMs, those with diabetes can treat their condition seriously without feeling like they’re missing out on the things they want to do (like having a slice of Nana’s cake at her 90th birthday.)

Diabetes Myth: You can cure diabetes by losing weight

Diabetes Fact: There is no cure for diabetes

While weight management can help control diabetes, it does not cure the disease. This is particularly true for Type 1 diabetes, which is a chronic condition where the body does not produce insulin. Weight loss cannot change this fundamental aspect of Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can’t be cured, either, but studies have shown some people can achieve normal blood sugar levels through lifestyle changes and maintain these levels without medication. This is often called “reversing” diabetes, but as we said, that doesn’t mean it’s cured. Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition, and it takes ongoing management to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and prevent complications.

Diabetes Myth: Herbal remedies can cure diabetes

Diabetes Fact: There is no cure for diabetes

In recent years, the popularity of natural remedies has increased. And some natural foods like apple cider vinegar and cinnamon have been shown to lower blood glucose levels and are useful tools for people with diabetes in conjunction with insulin and blood glucose monitoring.

But that said, there is no cure for diabetes. Diet and exercise could help reverse your diabetes to a point where insulin therapy is no longer needed, but you’ll still always have diabetes and need to continuously monitor your blood glucose. While you might have some success using natural remedies in conjunction with insulin to help keep your blood glucose in a normal range, this should be done only under the direction of your medical care team.

Myths and Facts About Living With Diabetes

Diabetes Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate

Birthday cupcakes

Diabetes Fact: Sweets are OK in moderation, with the right precautions

Speaking of cake, every diabetic is all too aware that their favorite sweets are high in simple sugars that can cause spikes in blood glucose levels.

But that doesn’t mean sweets are completely off-limits for people with diabetes. With careful planning, you can still enjoy sweets. Here are some smart tips:

  • It’s best to reserve them for special occasions or as an occasional treat. Make it worthwhile, get a small amount, and savor every morsel.
  • Plan ahead: If you know you’re going to treat yourself to something sweet, reduce the carb levels of the rest of your meal. In other words, if you want dessert, don’t get the bread and pasta, too.
  • Above all, check with your diabetes care provider for how you can incorporate sweet treats into your diet while still keeping your glucose at healthy levels. If you take insulin, your healthcare provider might advise you to take higher doses when you eat sweets.

“Where should I look for reliable diabetes information?”

Great question! With all the myths and misinformation out there, it’s hard to know where to turn for solid advice. Here are some reliable sources of information to get you started.

American Diabetes Association

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation


The diaTribe Foundation

American Heart Association

Or just get in touch with us! We’ve got friendly U.S.-based healthcare professionals who can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction.

Diabetes Myth: You can’t lead an active life with diabetes

Diabetes Fact: Exercise is beneficial and manageable for people with diabetes

Many believe that having diabetes means you can’t lead an active lifestyle, but the truth is quite the opposite. Whether you have type 1, type 2, or another form of diabetes, physical activity offers numerous benefits that can improve both your physical and mental well-being.

Benefits of exercising with diabetes include:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity: Exercise helps your body use insulin more efficiently, which is crucial for managing blood sugar levels.
  • Helps control blood glucose levels: When you exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy, which helps lower blood sugar levels.
  • Regulates blood pressure: Keeping blood pressure in check reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications.
  • Enhances heart health: Regular activity helps improve cholesterol levels, protecting against heart disease.
  • Aids in weight management: Exercise assists in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, which is vital for diabetes management.
  • Boosts energy and sleep quality: Staying active increases your energy levels and promotes better sleep.
  • Supports joint health: Physical activity keeps your joints flexible and healthy.
  • Improves mental health: Exercise releases endorphins, reducing stress and improving mood.

While the benefits are clear, it’s natural to have concerns about how exercise might impact your diabetes. Worries about fatigue, blood sugar levels, and managing diabetes symptoms during physical activity are common. Just remember to involve your care team before starting any new physical activity regimen and find exercises you truly enjoy.

Diabetes Myth: Insulin injections mean you have failed to manage your diabetes

Insulin injectionDiabetes Fact: Insulin injections are a necessary part of diabetes management

Using insulin injections is not a sign of failure in managing diabetes. So, if you do find yourself requiring insulin, please don’t make any value judgments about it (we don’t).

For individuals with type 1 diabetes, insulin injections are a necessity because their bodies no longer produce this crucial hormone. It’s not a matter of failure; it’s about replacing a hormone their bodies cannot make.

In the case of type 2 diabetes, the condition is progressive. Over time, the body produces less insulin, and exercise, dietary changes, and oral or non-insulin injectable medications may become less effective over time. As a result, insulin injections become necessary to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range.

Diabetes Myth: Diabetes is hard to manage

Diabetes Fact: Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) simplify diabetes management

Diabetes management has become much easier since continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) became available. These devices provide real-time glucose readings and trends, reducing the need for frequent finger pricks. CGMs alert users to rising or falling glucose levels, allowing for timely adjustments in diet, activity, or medication. This technology not only enhances glucose control but also provides peace of mind, making diabetes management more efficient and less burdensome.

The Best Source of Diabetes Facts? Your Care Team

Understanding the straight facts about diabetes can make managing it much easier.

And remember: Always talk to your healthcare provider for advice tailored to your needs. They can guide you on the best ways to manage your diabetes. You’re not alone in this journey; your healthcare team — including TMS — is there to support you every step of the way.

Interested in a CGM but not sure which one is best for you? Our guide “Choosing the Right Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) for You” can help.

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This information, including, but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained in this document, is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services of any kind. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and you should never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this document. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Neither Total Medical Supply nor its employees make any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.

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