MYTH 1: Diabetes is not a serious disease
FACT: “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,” informs Dr Jayshree Todkar, obesity and diabetes centre, Kohinoor Hospital
MYTH 2: Diabetes is purely a hereditary disease
FACT: This is untrue. “It is largely a function of how much and the quality of food one eats and (does not) exercise,” says Dr Mahesh S, senior consultant, endocrinology, Apollo Hospitals.
MYTH 3: If one has diabetes, one has to keep on eating
FACT: People tend to believe that if you are diabetic you need to keep eating to keep your blood sugar level in control. However, that isn’t true. One needs to eat a well planned meal every 4 hours, with adequate amount of carbohydrates.
MYTH 4: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic food
FACT: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. “Diabetic and dietetic foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive, and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols,” says Dr Todkar. There are no complete food restrictions for diabetics. Those with diabetes can eat desserts and sweets as part of a healthy meal plan and combine it with adequate exercise.
MYTH 5: You can catch diabetes from someone else
FACT: Diabetes is not contagious and cannot pass on from person to person unless its genetic. Though the exact cause of acquiring diabetes is unknown, there are certain genetic links and lifestyle factors that contribute to diabetes.
MYTH 6: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is fine if you eat as much of it
FACT: Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fibre and lots of vitamins and minerals. However, Dr Todkar explains, “Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan by talk to your dietician about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat. You cannot over indulge in fruits.”
MYTH 7: Eating sweets and compensating it with exercise is okay
FACT: Only achieving blood glucose control is not enough for diabetes treatment. “What is needed is the consistency. Fluctuations of blood glucose levels in body in very hazardous because it fastens organ damage,” says Dr Todkar.
MYTH 8: You need to cut down on physical activity if you have diabetes
FACT: On the contrary if you have diabetes you should exercise moderately and can also continue playing your favourite sport. Exercise of any kind helps the pancreas secrete more insulin along, which in turn helps in controlling the blood sugar levels. Dr Mahesh opines, “Regular exercise is as important as food and insulin in achieving good control.”
MYTH 9: Drinking alcohol has no connection with diabetes
FACT: Alcohol can fasten the process of diabetes for pre-diabetics and over indulgence can cause diabetes. Dr Mahesh says, “Alcohol can cause diabetes as it is nothing but fermented sugar and molasses.”
MYTH 10: Insulin is habit farming and the starting of insulin signifies the worsening of diabetes
FACT: No, it is not. Insulin is a medicine to be used just as any other medicine. It is just that as insulin is not yet available in a tablet form, it has to be injected to get it into the body. “Insulin can be used for a short period of time to get good sugar control in an emergency and tablets can be resumed when the person is better,” says Dr Mahesh.