- Generally, people suffer from type 2 diabetes which can be reversed
- Unlike high blood pressure, diabetes has some alarming symptoms
- Diabetes can be managed by injections of insulin
Diabetes or high blood sugar levels is a medical condition which is rising at an alarming rate. Diabetes mellitus is the body's inability to regulate the level of glucose(which is the main form of sugar in the body) in the blood. The body breaks down food into glucose and uses it as a source of energy. In healthy people insulin helps to regulate the glucose or sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. But in diabetics, the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use the produced insulin effectively. This results in a high level of glucose or sugar in the blood. There is a lot of information available about diabetes. However, some of it may not be true. In the following article, let us shed light on some of the popular myths and facts about diabetes.
Debunking common diabetes myths:
Myth 1: Eating too much of sugar causes diabetes
Fact: Excessive intake of sugar can lead to diabetes but that is not the primary reason of diabetes. Other factors like stress, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy lifestyle and genetic factors can also lead to diabetes.
Dr. Sujeet Jha says, "Eating sugar as a part of healthy meal plan combined with exercise, people with diabetes can eat sweets. The key to eating sweets is to have a very small portion."
Myth 2: Type 2 diabetes cannot be reversed
Fact: There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Generally, people suffer from type 2 diabetes which can be reversed. People suffering from type 2 diabetes can effectively manage their blood sugar levels by following a healthy diet, regular physical activity, reduce stress and adequate sleep.
Myth 3: Diabetes cannot eat sugar
Fact: Delhi based nutritionist Nmami Agarwal said, "Diabetics can have sugar occasionally if the blood sugar levels are under control with a balanced diet or medication. Try and derive the sugar from natural sources like jaggery, coconut sugar, dates or fruits."
But even natural sources of sugar should be eaten in moderation and in limited quantities.
Myth 4: All diabetes need to take insulin
Fact: Diabetes can be managed by injections of insulin. Insulin injection acts as a replacement for or supplement to your body's insulin. People suffering from type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin, so the insulin is injected in order to lower their blood sugar levels. Fortunately, many people with type 2 diabetes can manage diabetes with lifestyle changes and medication. However, if these treatments do not help to control blood sugar levels, these people will need insulin to help control their blood glucose levels.
Dr. Sujeet Jha said, "Insulin is one of the biggest discoveries we could have for the treatment of the chronic disease diabetes. Many people suffering from diabetes think that the insulin injection is taken when the disease gets complicated. However, this is not true as the injection insulin is absolutely safe for the body. Moreover, insulin is a safe treatment which helps manage the disease better."
Myth 5: Thin people do not get diabetes
Fact: Thin people can also get diabetes. This is because diabetes is caused by a sedentary lifestyle, stress, unhealthy lifestyle and genetic factors.
"Type-1 diabetes also called IDDM (Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) is a type of diabetes that generally causes weight loss and happens to people with low body weight, " adds nutritionist Nmami Agarwal.
Myth 6: Diabetes have no symptoms
Fact: Nutritionist Pooja Malhotra says, "Often people claim that diabetes crept in silently. Though it's that true every disease is associated with some symptoms, and if you were to pay heed and make a connection with your body, you would be able to pick up small changes in your body and catch those symptoms early. Some of the symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, weight loss or weight gain, tiredness and fatigue, delayed wound healing. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you must contact your physician and investigate to find out why."
Myth 7: Diabetics cannot eat rice, mangoes and bananas and other sweet fruits
Fact: There is a wide known popular belief that diabetes should eliminate rice, mangoes, bananas, water melons, cherries, litchis and other fruits from their diet. Fruits have fibre and other essential nutrients. Therefore, eliminating them completely from their diet is not a wise decision. Diabetics should focus on a balanced diet and can have these foods occasionally.
Delhi based nutritionist Pooja Malhora says, "The most common myth surrounding diabetes is that diabetics cannot eat naturally sweet fruits like mango and banana. It's quite a myth which deprives diabetics not only from eating their favourite fruit, but also deprives them of vital nutrients. Though naturally sweet fruits like mango are slightly high on a sugar called fructose, it's a natural sugar, which brings along lots of fibre, essential nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants. Provided these fruits are eaten as separate meals or snacks or as a pre work meal, there is absolutely no reason to avoid these fruits; however these should be avoided alongside a main meal. Mango is rightly called the king of fruits for all its nutritional properties, health benefits and it's awesome sweet taste. So enjoy your mangoes as long as they are in season, stick to the local and seasonal variety for maximum health benefits."
The same goes for rice as well. Rice is a good source of carbohydrates and when combined with lentils makes for a complete protein-rich meal. Therefore, even rice is not that unhealthy as you thought. Although, moderation and portion control is the key when you eat it. Also, you can include a lot of vegetables like carrots, peas, cauliflower, soya chunks and cottage cheese in your rice for that extra nutritional boost.
Dr. Sujeet Jha claims, "One can have rice if someone is having diabetes. Just to keep in mind that not to mix both chapati and rice together and eating the cereals separately. Also there is only a slight difference between the glycemic index of chapati and rice."
Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal says, "Rice, mangoes and banana can spike a blood glucose levels rapidly but if the levels are in control, diabetics can enjoy these foods occasionally."
Myth 7: Diabetes is contagious
Facts: Dr. Sujeet Jha says, diabetes is not contagious. Although we don't know exactly why some people develop diabetes and others don't, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can't be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
Myth 8: A person with diabetes should reduce their calorie intake
Fact: A person with diabetes should not reduce calories. "Eating less is just not the thing for the management of diabetes. One need to eat accordingly to meet their body requirements, adds Dr. Sujeet Jha.
Myth 9: A patient with diabetes need special diets
Fact: There is nothing like diabetic diets. Dr. Sujeet Jha further said, "The so called diabetic foods offer no benefits and can still raise blood sugar levels, are usually more expensive and may have laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols."
To conclude Dr. Sujeet Jha says, the normal blood sugar level range is under 200.
(Dr. Sujeet Jha is the Director of Institute of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Max Healthcare)
(Nmami Agarwal is a nutritionist at Nmami Life)
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)
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