Dispelling Diabetes Myths

If you have or are at risk for diabetes or a have a family member who is of concern, then you’ve come to the right place. In the last 40 years diabetes has become a worldwide epidemic. In 1985 there were 30 million reported cases worldwide. In 2011 that number jumped to 366 million. In the U.S. alone 1.4 million cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year. It’s also the 7th leading cause of death in America, and diabetics are 3 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Roughly 90% of these diagnosed cases are caused by the sugary diets from fast foods and processed snack foods that so many people have come to rely on. The simple solution here is a diet change, but first let’s look at what exactly causes diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes, 1 and 2. Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of the disease, primarily affecting those who are overweight in middle age or later. Type 1, or juvenile-onset diabetes, primarily affects children or young adults. This type is caused by the death of most of the body’s insulin-producing cells. This severe deficiency of insulin causes high blood sugar and in this case is usually associated with severe weight loss.

The problem with type 2 diabetes is keeping blood sugar levels low and consistent. In short, trying to keep the blood from getting too sweet. When carbohydrates reach the stomach they turn into sugar. So starchy foods (bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes) and sugars (soda, fruit juice, candy) all drive up the body’s blood sugar. The more carbohydrates we eat, the more sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. The more sugar in the bloodstream, the higher the blood sugar levels will be.

Many of the symptoms of diabetes can be avoided through healthy eating and exercise. But with all the diets and fads out there and with further understanding of the disease it can be difficult to know what to eat. Let’s dispel a few myths about diabetes.

1) You have to cut ALL carbs.

Not true. The type of carbs you eat as well as the serving size is key. You can still enjoy the occasional sandwich for lunch or toast in the morning. Focus on whole grain carbs instead of starchy carbs derived from white flour. Whole grain carbs are high in fiber and digest slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more even.

2) Avoid sugar at all costs.

You can still indulge in your favorite desserts as long as you plan properly and make them a part of a healthy meal plan. Refined sugars should never be a majority calorie base of any meal, but occasionally treating yourself is still possible.

3) You’ll need special diabetic meals.

The principles of eating healthy are the same with or without diabetes. Expensive diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit. A little knowledge and planning can go a long way and with pre-prepared meals you can also save money while cutting calories.

4) A high-protein diet is best.

Studies have shown that eating too much protein can actually lead to insulin resistance, a key factor in diabetes. Since we need protein, carbohydrates, and fats to survive, a healthy diet is one that balances all three of these components.

5) You can adjust your medication to “cover” whatever you want to eat.

As emphasized here, simply consuming whatever you crave in whatever quantities you want is not a healthy to move forward with diabetes. If you take insulin, after some time you may learn how to adjust your levels so that you might eat as many carbs as desired, but there are more complications that can come from this practice including heart disease and high cholesterol.

With numerous studies on diabetes being released everyday, it can be difficult to sift through all the accurate information. Start with a healthy and balanced diet that emphasizes raw and cooked vegetables, complete proteins, and avoid starchy carbohydrates and you’ll be on your way to better health with fewer symptoms caused by diabetes.

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