It's World Diabetes Day today and we're debunking some of the myths around the disease

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You can manage diabetes with a healthy, balanced lifestyle
You can manage diabetes with a healthy, balanced lifestyle

Diabetes is not only one of the most common medical conditions in South Africa, but it is also the highest cause of death in women than it is in men.

According to a report in BusinessInsider.co.za, "36% [of women are] more likely to die from diabetes than from the combination of car accidents, violent crime, suicide and all other 'non-natural' causes."  

"Diabetes was identified as the underlying cause of death for a record 15 506 women in 2016," reports Phillip de Wet in the article. 

READ MORE: Sophie Ndaba on being bullied for her weight: "I will fight to live" 

According to Healthline.com, there’s a lot of misinformation about diabetes. The lack of knowledge about this disease may be what causes so many people to mistreat the medical condition and fail to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We've listed some of the myths that you should know about. 

Myth 1: If you’re overweight, you’ll automatically get diabetes

Being overweight does not mean that you will definitely get diabetes, even though it is a serious risk factor for diabetes and other illnesses like cholesterol. "There are other factors that put you at an increased risk. Having a family history of diabetes, having high blood pressure, or being sedentary are just some of these other factors," writes Erica Manfred in Healthline.com; but being overweight doesn't guarantee that you will get it. 

READ MORE: “I went from the overweight girl who couldn’t exercise to a spinning instructor” 

Myth 2: People with diabetes should avoid eating fruits

While a lot of fruits may have a significant amount of sugar naturally, diabetics are allowed to have fruit as part of a balanced, healthy diet. An article in Diabetes.org confirms that "having a piece of fresh fruit or fruit salad for dessert is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth and get the extra nutrition you're looking for". Fresh or frozen fruits, according to MedicalNewsToday.com, are better than processed fruits straight from a can or jar, such as applesauce and canned fruit. 

Myth 3: Taking insulin means you don’t have to make any lifestyle changes

As reported in a WebMD.com article, the treatment of diabetes involves paying close attention to your blood sugar levels through a combination of exercise, medication, and diet; and not just medication alone. "By paying close attention to what and when you eat, you can minimise or avoid the 'see-saw effect' of rapidly changing blood sugar levels, which can require quick changes in medication dosages, especially insulin," the article reports. 

READ MORE: Here’s why you should eat the kiwi skin (yes, really) 

Myth 4: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or sweet things

"There’s no reason people with type 2 diabetes can’t eat sweets," Erica reports; "as long as they fit into a normal meal plan. However, try to eat small portions and include them with other foods." According to an article by Nicole Galan, it is best to save sugary foods for occasional treats and enjoy them in small portions. "When choosing any food, it is essential for a person with diabetes to understand how it can affect their blood glucose levels," Nicole writes. 

Myth 5: Diabetes requires you to give yourself shots

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with type 2 diabetes can use pills to manage their diabetes, while people with type 1 diabetes must use insulin. "These pills work best when used with meal planning and exercise," the article highlights; however "diabetes pills don't work for everyone. Although most people find that their blood glucose levels go down when they begin taking pills, their blood glucose levels may not go near the normal range."

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