There is a lot of information about diabetes out there. Some of it comes from reputable sources like your healthcare team. Some comes from the internet, or from friends or family members (sometimes even from strangers!) For diabetics, it’s crucial to separate the truths from the myths in order to live your best health.
Myth 1: Diabetes is contagious
Truth: Absolutely not. Diabetes is not contagious and cannot be “caught” like the common cold or the flu. While there does appear to be a small genetic link to developing diabetes in some individuals, lifestyle factors have by far the strongest impact on the development of type II diabetes.
Myth 2: If someone is overweight, they will get diabetes
Truth: Being overweight is a dominant risk factor for developing this disease, but it is not the only determinant. For example, food and drink choices, lack of physical activity, other health conditions, all can contribute to the development of type II diabetes, even in people of a healthy weight.
Myth 3: Eating a lot of sugar causes type II diabetes
Truth: When sugar is consumed, blood sugar rises. It’s simply what occurs in the body. Will eating one candy bar doom a child to a lifetime battle with diabetes? No. At first, the body may be able to keep up with the sugar consumption by releasing more insulin.
However, after many years of a high-sugar diet, the body’s insulin can become insufficient, or the body’s cells can become resistant to it. While individuals can develop type II diabetes due to many factors, a high-sugar diet certainly does not help.
Myth 4: People with diabetes should only eat “sugar-free” foods
Truth: Keep in mind that processed foods in general are less beneficial to your health. Whether a box of cookies is made with sugar, or with aspartame and has a “sugar-free” label, that cookie is not doing your health any favors either way. Don’t be fooled by artificial sugars and preservatives. Whole, fresh foods will go much further toward accomplishing your health goals.
Myth 5: If someone has diabetes, foods like breads and pastas are off-limits
Truth: Simple carbohydrates are digested faster by the body and cause blood sugar to rise. Someone with diabetes can enjoy carbohydrates, but they need to be the right kind of carbs, in the right portions, in moderation. For example, whole grain breads and pastas, fresh fruits, grains like quinoa, and vegetables like sweet potatoes, can be good choices if prepared in balance with protein, fiber, and good fats.
Myth 6: Fruit is healthy, that means you can eat as much of it as you want
Truth: Fruit is healthy. Many fruits contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. Because fruits also contain natural sugars and carbohydrates, it is important to choose fruits that will have a more positive impact on blood sugar. Apples and blueberries are two great choices. Blueberries are a superfood and will raise blood sugar less than an orange or pineapple. Apples are a great source of fiber (make sure to enjoy with the skin on) which helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
Myth 7: People with diabetes can’t eat dessert or sweets ever again
Truth: Should diabetics have a bowl of ice cream every night before bed? No. However, if you tell yourself that you can never have something again, three days later you will eat that something until you’re ill. The key is to find delicious treats that you enjoy, that will not devastate your blood sugar. Enjoy them in moderation, and in appropriate portions.
Myth 8: You’ll need to give up your favorite foods and eat a bland and boring diet
Truth: There are endless delicious, healthy foods that not only prevent blood sugar spikes, but can actually help heal diabetes. The key is to enjoy a variety of foods, in the right combinations. For example, meals should contain good fats, fiber, and protein. That’s right – fat is not the enemy!
The Ketogenic diet in particular emphasizes high-fat and moderate protein while reducing carbohydrates. This forces the body to burn fat instead of carbs, and results in lower blood sugar levels. Research studies have found that while following the Ketogenic diet, up to 95% of Type II diabetics reduced or terminated their need for blood sugar medication within 6 months.
The carb-rich foods prohibited by the Keto diet include: bread, crackers, bagels, cookies, pastries, etc. Basically, foods made with white flour and sugar are off limits. There are vegetables and even fruits that may contain carbohydrates, but are still beneficial to your health and allowed by the diet. Carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, pickles, broccoli, and many more are all for grabs! The Ketogenic diet encourages balance and a variety of foods to maximize its benefits.
Myth 9: Diabetes is not that big of a deal
Truth: Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. It has been listed as an underlying cause of death for nearly 70,000 people. Diabetes causes more deaths every year than breast cancer and AIDS put together. Diabetes nearly doubles one’s risk of having a heart attack. This is a serious disease with serious consequences.
Myth 10: Diabetes has no cure.
Truth: The right combination of healing foods, physical activity, determination, and good communication with one’s healthcare team can result in the reversal of Type II diabetes. Yes, it is possible!