I was recently approached by a rep for JDRF who asked me if I would be open to placing a guest post on my blog regarding diabetes myths and facts. Normally I do not delve into too many health related topics of a serious vein here but I felt this is good information to spread as I have friends and family afflicted with diabetes and deal with it on a daily basis.
10 Diabetes Myths and The True Facts
Diabetes is growing more prevalent by the year. Although the media often makes connections between the rise of the condition and a perceived modern day obesity crisis, this has lead to the development of a number of harmful and inaccurate myths about the cause and treatment of the disease. A difficult health condition to manage involving monitoring your blood sugar, maintaining a healthy diet and taking medication inconsistent diabetes advice is at best stigmatising and at worst dangerous. In the article below, we will look at some of the most common misconceptions about diabetes and try to set the record straight by looking at the facts and figures related to the disease.
1. Losing weight will cure diabetes
Although weight gain can be a symptom of diabetes it is not in itself the cause. Doctors may recommend a treatment plan that involves losing a little weight to slow down the effects of the disease and make monitoring blood glucose and absorbing medications easier but it is extremely unlikely that losing a few pounds – even through dramatic weight loss – will ‘cure’ your diabetes. In fact, nearly 20% of people with type 2 diabetes are of a normal weight.
2. All those affected by diabetes are limited to special diabetic meals
The only difference between a diabetes diet and a ‘normal’ diet is the need to monitor what you eat more carefully. In fact, diabetic foods will still often affect blood glucose levels and cause harmful side effects. By keeping track of the total amount of calories you consume and balancing the amounts of carbohydrates, fats and protein in your diet there is no need to buy ‘suitable’ pre-prepared diabetes meals. With the guidance of your clinician or a dietician, it is easy to create a healthy diet that will meet the needs of the condition.
3. Carbs are more harmful to diabetics
Untrue. As with any healthy diet, carbs form the foundation of a healthy diet. Although it is a fact that carbs have the most dramatic effect on blood sugar levels, they also contain many essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. So by making more informed choices and substitutes (such as whole-grain goods and high-fibre fruits and veg), there is really no need to cut carbohydrates out of your daily diet.
4. Diabetes only affects the elderly
Although type 2 diabetes has gained a reputation as an ‘older’ person’s disease, in fact diabetes begins when your body is unable to break down the food you eat into glucose due to an inability to produce insulin. This pancreatic disorder can affect the young, the old and even occur as a result of pregnancy.
5: Type 2 diabetes is a less serious condition
Following on from the notion that diabetes only affects the elderly, comes the myth that type 2 diabetes is less serious. In fact, if left untreated or not taken seriously, complications can still escalate and cause risk to life.
6. It is possible to eat whatever you like and use insulin to offset your diet
The treatment of diabetes involves using insulin to match up with the amount of food you eat. But eating as much as you want then using more medication to stabilize your blood sugar is both misguided and dangerous. Insulin is a powerful hormone that in large amounts can cause further complications to the symptoms of the condition and is best used in accordance with your doctor’s directions.
7. Eat sweets to combat low blood sugar
A common response to treating diabetes symptoms is to eat chocolate when you feel the onset of a blood glucose crash. Whilst this may deal with the short-term effects a sudden leap in your blood glucose levels can be problematic. Instead, try a small amount of fruit juice box (4 ounces) or a single sucking sweet to quickly stabilize blood glucose without taking in any excess calories.
8. There is no place for sugar within a diabetic meal plan
You don’t have to give up desserts if you have diabetes is incorrect. Taking steps to reduce your sugar intake is sensible and also not as intense as you might imagine. By swapping for more nutritious choices and reducing the amount of sweet treats you can continue to live your life without making huge sacrifices. By having sugary treats as an occasional reward and taking small steps like using artificial sweeteners, there is no need to give up the things you love.
9. White food is bad for diabetes
Although many people believe that ‘white’ foods (breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes) are sugary and contain no nutritional value, the key is portion size. In fact when you consider that cauliflower, mushrooms and low fat yoghurt also count as white foods, you realise the limits of this view.
10. People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.
Whilst many diabetics are advised to get flu shots, this is not in fact because they are more likely to get ill. It is because any threat to the immune system can make diabetes more difficult to control, and is more likely to cause the development of serious complications.
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