New Delhi: Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way our body processes blood sugar. It is one of the leading causes of blindness, heart diseases, neurological disorders, and other autoimmune diseases. A high-sugar diet being one of the primary causes of diabetes, sugar is the first thing people give up on when diagnosed with diabetes. Often construed as a toxic substance, any form of sugars, including fruits, are avoided blindly by diabetic patients today.
Like most things, sugar is vital to life, as long as you eat in moderation. But there are myths attached to sugar which should be avoided first to treat diabetes. Here, we debunk some common diabetes myths.
Myth 1: High sugar causes Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a condition when your body isn’t producing enough insulin to convert sugar into energy. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that is caused by a genetic risk or environmental exposure to viral infections. Type 1 diabetes can neither be predicted nor be cured completely. Your diet isn’t responsible for type 1 diabetes, but it may help balance the blood sugar levels and to manage the complications arise in Type 1 diabetes.
Myth 2: People with diabetes cannot eat sugar
People construe diabetes as a sugar intake problem. No wonder sugar is the first thing to quit when diagnosed with diabetes. The truth is, there is sugar in every food we eat. It’s as much in fruits, vegetables and milk as it is in icecreams and cakes. The need is to understand the difference between natural sugar and added sugar. Natural sugar contains phytonutrients and fibre while added sugar contains artificial flavours and sweeteners. Consumption of natural sugar is necessary for health and balanced living. A high-fat diet can increase sugar levels as much as sugar consumption. Diabetics can eat sugar but in moderation and natural.
Myth 3: Insulin is the last diabetes treatment
Insulin is the primary and most effective treatment for diabetes. Type 1 diabetic patients are recommended insulin shots from the beginning. As the insulin injections/shots are taken through a syringe/pen, the pain and effort are often mistaken as the last resort. And as oral medications are given more preference, insulin shots are considered dangerous. Insulin shots are, in fact, convenient and effective treatment to suit an individual’s lifestyle. Insulin is the first treatment one should take.
Myth 4: “Sugar-free” products are sugar-free
For satisfying a sweet tooth, diabetics, of course, binge on “sugar-free” icecreams, pancakes, smoothies or cakes. While the labels exclaim ‘No Added Sugar’, these products do contain sugar in the form of sugar alcohols. These may not raise the blood sugar levels but have other risks like intestinal dysfunction, bad digestion system, etc. Moreover, people cutting down on sugar can end up eating more because of artificial sweeteners.
Myth 5: Only fat people are prone to Diabetes
Obesity is one of the causes of diabetes but people with normal weight stand the equal chance of being diabetic. While type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by body weight or high-sugar levels, a high number of normal and underweight people are diabetic. It is related to the body’s capacity to produce insulin and the processing of sugar into energy and not just to fat. For type 2 diabetes, the major causes are high visceral fat, leading to insulin resistance. These people may tend to have insulin levels, low, high or even normal.
(Disclaimer: The author, Dr Manoj Kutteri, Naturopath and Director at Atmantan Wellness Centre, is a guest contributor and a part of our medical expert panel. Views expressed are personal)