Myths about diabetes are everywhere. And when it comes to diet suggestion, everybody has an opinion. But you don’t want to make diet choices based on fiction – even if suggestions are coming from friends or family, who may have good intentions and mean well but are not the experts.
The first step in treatment of any disease is learning the facts. You can make smart choices without giving up your favourite foods in diabetes. Use this guide to separate fiction from fact.
Myth 1: Diabetes is caused by too much sugar
Fact: Your diet is not responsible for Diabetes. There are two types of Diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 Diabetes is caused by genetics, when the cells in pancreas that make insulin are damaged. While Type 2 Diabetes results when the body doesn’t respond to insulin properly or produce enough insulin. This type is mostly caused by genetics which means that it is inherited from the parents.
However, eating sugar in large amount can lead to weight gain, a major trigger for Type 2 diabetes. But so can eating too much of unhealthy food, not simply diet with high sugar content.
Myth 2: Diabetes is not that big of a deal
Fact: Many people underestimate the disease and believe that it won’t kill you. To them, you just have to go through a ‘special diet’, but diabetes is more serious than that. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes causes more deaths in a year than AIDS and breast cancer combined. So, don’t assume that it is not a serious disease. The chance of having a heart attack doubles in people having diabetes and should not be taken lightly. However, the good news is that good diabetes control can trim down the risks for complications. If you manage it right, some diabetes-related health complications can be easily avoided.
In reality, diabetes is a silent killer.
Myth 3: People with diabetes are more more susceptible to flu and cold
Fact: This is not true. You are no more susceptible to cold or illness than anyone who doesn’t have diabetes. However, diabetic people are advised to get flu shots. As the body responds to infection and illness by increasing blood sugar levels, glucose management becomes more complicated.
People with diabetes should get flu vaccine, irrespective of the type, since illness can make diabetes hard to control and diabetic people are more at risk of flu complications. If you are senior, do everything to avoid flu to avoid complications.
Myth 4: Losing a lot of weight can help in improving diabetes
Fact: A modest weight loss can improve blood pressure, blood fat levels, blood sugar and reduce diabetic complications. You doctor may have told you a number if time: “Lose your weight and do more exercise.” What is rarely told, however, is that while getting your weight to a healthy range is ideal, number of benefits can be achieved simply by losing 5-10% of your body weight. In simple words, you don’t need to lose a lot of weight to help diabetes.
Myth 5: People with diabetes can’t donate blood
Fact: People with diabetes can donate blood as long as the other medical requirements are met.
If a diabetic person is on oral medication or simply controlled by diet and not dependent on insulin, he is a good candidate to donate blood. But, there are a few parameters that should be kept in mind before donate blood. The person should be healthy and should not have donated blood for at least 56 days.
People suffering from high blood pressure or any other heart disease should consult their doctors before donating blood.
Myth 6: There is a ‘special diet’ for diabetic people
Fact: There is nothing called as a special diet for a diabetic person. The diet for a diabetic person is typically identical for a healthy diet for anyone. Such diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, wheat grains, lean meat and moderate amount of healthier fats found in olive or canola oil. And of course, a diabetic person can have sweets as well, as long as they include them in their meal plan cautiously.
With diabetes, you just need to keep a closer watch on things such as the type of carbohydrates, calories, protein and fats you eat. You can easily have food with your family and friends, if you eat in moderation.
Myth 7: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolates
Fact: Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, just not all of it.
This myth related to sweets is decades old. Logically, it makes sense too. Sugary diet causes an increase in blood sugar levels. However, sweets or chocolates, if eaten in small portion, can be consumed in diabetes. In fact, everyone – people with diabetes or no diabetes – should avoid food with zero nutrition value and limit the consumption of total amount of calories. (Yes, most sweets are high in calories).
Save sweets for special occasions and focus more on healthy foods.
Myth 8: Diabetes is contagious
Fact: Diabetes is not contagious like cold or flu – you cannot catch it from another person. Diabetes isn’t caused by germs. So even if you get a blood transfusion from a diabetic, you will not get diabetes.
Diabetes develops inside the body in people who have genes for it. While the causes of Diabetes haven’t yet been pinpointed exactly by scientists, but they know it’s not contagious. Type 1 diabetes take months or years to develop.
Myth 9: If you have diabetes, alcohol is off-limits
Fact: It is often assumed that for diabetic people alcohol is off limits. Not so! If you keep an eye on what and how much you drink, it would help avoid such pitfalls of weight gain, low glucose level and high blood pressure.
Diabetic people can include alcohol in a responsible way – and take the right steps to be safe. Check your blood pressure before consuming alcohol and up to 24 hours to make sure it is at the safe level.
Regular drinking can interfere with diabetes self-care. Do not drink on an empty stomach, and calories do count. As Carolyn Brown, a nutritionist in New York says, “You’re drinking your dessert.”
Myth 10: Kids can outgrow diabetes
Fact: Diabetes can be managed efficiently but cannot be outgrown. In type 1 diabetes, the cells producing insulin are destroyed. Once destroyed, the will never make insulin again. Children with type 1 diabetes will always need insulin to survive (until treatment is found). This type of diabetes is a lifelong challenge for parents.
In many cases, kids with type 2 diabetes may see an improvement in stability after puberty and lifestyle changes, but they will always have the tendency toward having high blood sugar levels.