There are many myths about diabetes that can mean this disease is not taken seriously. But first of all, it’s important to know exactly what diabetes is.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that is triggered when the body loses its ability to produce enough insulin or to use it effectively. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows glucose to pass food to the body's cells, where it is converted into energy to work the muscles and tissues. With diabetes, the body does not properly absorb or use glucose, which leads to a buildup of blood sugars. This can cause serious health implications.
In today's post we talk about some myths that exist around this disease.
Myth 1: Diabetes is not a serious disease. Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
Myth 2: Obese and overweight people will always get Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight is a risk factor, yes - but other factors also influence risk, such as family history, race and age.
Myth 3: Eating too many sweets cause diabetes. The causes of Type 1 diabetes are genetic, or unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; the causes of Type 2 diabetes are genetic and lifestyle factors. Being overweight increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, and a diet rich in calories of any type produces weight gain. Studies show that drinking sugary drinks is associated with Type 2 diabetes. The NHS recommends that you eat a healthy diet and exercise more to help prevent the onset of diabetes.
Myth 4: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods. Fact: a healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy meal plan for anyone - low in fat (especially saturated and trans fats), moderate intake of salt and sugar, foods with whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Food for diabetics and "diet" in general does not offer any special benefits. Many raise glucose levels and can have a laxative effect; they are also usually more expensive.
Myth 5: If someone has diabetes, they can only eat small amounts of carbohydrate foods like bread, potatoes and noodles. Carbohydrate foods may be part of a healthy eating plan, but the key is the portion size. Breads, cereals, rice noodles and whole grains, and vegetables with carbohydrates like papayas, sweet potatoes (or yams), peas (legumes) and corn, can be part of your meals and snacks. You and your health care team need to find the right amount for you. Once you know how many carbohydrates you can eat at a meal, choose your foods and eat in the recommended portion size.
Myth 6: People with diabetes cannot eat sweets or chocolate. People with diabetes can eat sweets and desserts IF eaten as part of a healthy eating plan or combined with exercise. These foods are not prohibited for people with or without diabetes. The key is to eat a very small portion and to save them for special occasions, so focus your meals on healthier foods.
Myth 7: Diabetes is contagious. No. It is not spread like colds or flu. There appear to be some genetic factors in diabetes, especially in the Type 1 form. Lifestyle also plays a role.
Myth 8: People with diabetes tend to get ill and have lots of colds. People with diabetes are no more likely to get ill or contract a cold than others. However, it is recommended that people with diabetes get a flu jab each year. This is because any disease can be difficult to control if you have diabetes, and people with diabetes who catch colds are more likely than others to have serious complications.
Myth 9: If you have Type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, you don’t need to bother. For most people, Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. Just after diagnosis, many people with Type 2 diabetes are able to maintain blood glucose at a healthy level without oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less insulin until it reaches a point where oral medicines are not sufficient to maintain glucose within normal levels. The use of insulin to keep blood glucose at a healthy level is positive, not negative.
Myth 10: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is okay to eat whatever and however much takes your fancy. Well, fruit is a healthy food. It contains fibre and many vitamins and minerals. But fruits contain carbohydrates that should be taken account of in your meal plan. Check with your dietician about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.
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