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Misconceptions about Diabetes: Separating Facts from Fiction

Many misconceptions about diabetes can make it difficult to understand the condition. However, it’s important to separate fact from fiction to properly manage the disease. With the right information, people with diabetes can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Here are some of the common ones,

1. Eating sugar directly causes diabetes

It is a common misconception that eating sugar directly causes diabetes. While consuming excessive amounts of sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity, which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, it is not the sole cause of the disease. Diabetes is a complex condition that can be influenced by genetics, lifestyle factors, and other health conditions. It is important to maintain a balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity to help prevent the development of diabetes.

Diabetes is a sugar problem, what this means is that people diagnosed with diabetes have issues with the function of insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that works to help move sugar from the bloodstream after eating, and get it into your body tissues and cells, basically to promote normal body functions.

Sugar problem because now, when insulin function is limited, your body tissues and cells will not get the glucose. Bringing the very many symptoms like frequent urination, frequent hunger, and even frequent thirst.

Does eating sugar directly cause diabetes, No, but is it a risk factor yes! Eating too much sugary foods, will not only cause obesity but may deplete insulin. The more sugar there is in the body, the more insulin production will be needed, if this continues for a very long time, then problems will start to come in. 

Moreover, unhealthy diets that include too much added sugars, fats, and salts are the top risk factors for type 2 Diabetes. And that is why it’s often recommended to cut down on sugar even when you aren’t diabetic.

2. What kind of people are most likely to get type 2 diabetes?

Certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, such as being overweight or obese, having a family history of the disease, being over the age of 45, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. 

However, diabetes can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing the disease. 

You are highly at risk of type 2 diabetes if;

  1. You consume a lot of unhealthy diets.
  2. You are physically inactive.
  3. Have you ever been in a pre-diabetic state?
  4. You have a close relative with type 2 diabetes.
  5. You have PCOS in women.

The risk factors of type 2 diabetes are quite a number, putting almost everyone at risk in one way or another. And therefore as much as research tries to narrow it down to specific individuals, we are put to the task of really taking up preventive measures.

3. Which type of diabetes is more serious?

There are different types of diabetes, type 1( commonly diagnosed in children) type 2 ( common in adults) GDM which is gestational diabetes that occurs when a woman gets pregnant, and others that may be due to diseases like cancer of the pancreas. All these types of diabetes can be serious if not properly managed. 

However, type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood and requires insulin therapy to manage. Type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in adults and can often be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to manage either type of diabetes to avoid complications.

All these different types of diabetes have one thing in common, and that is the increased risk of hyperglycemia ( extremely high blood glucose level).

Hyperglycemia can be life-threatening, and can present with one or more of these signs and symptoms;

  • Thirst, dry mouth (polydipsia).
  • Polyuria ( need to pee every time).
  • Nocturia ( need to wake up at night often to pee).
  • Bedwetting in children.
  • Fatigue ( extreme tiredness).
  • A weight change, especially sudden unexplained weight loss.
  • Recurrent genital candidiasis.
  • Nausea and headaches.
  • Irritability, a sudden change in mood.
  • Kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks.
  • Worse even coma.

All these signs and symptoms can be severe, and it will not matter what type of diabetes it is, as long as it causes hyperglycemia it can be life-threatening.

4. Which type of diabetes is experienced by high levels of blood glucose?

Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood glucose. Once diagnosed with any type of diabetes, measures need to be taken to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range. Fasting blood sugar should be between 4.4 mmol/l to 7.2 mmol/l, and postprandial glucose should not exceed 11.1 mmol/l. These levels are often used to diagnose diabetes.

Once you get diagnosed with any type of diabetes, measures have to be put in to keep your sugar back to the normal ranges.

Fasting blood sugar should be between 4.4 mmol/l to 7.2 mmol/l. Post prandial glucose not more than 11.1mmol/l. Often used to diagnose diabetes.

In most cases, people will present with extremely high blood glucose levels, regardless of whether it’s type 1 or type 2. However, children with type 1 diabetes may have really high blood glucose levels, especially after missing insulin injections even for a day.

The difference comes in because usually in type 1 diabetes there’s completely no insulin production, why? Because the beta cells that produce insulin have been completely destroyed, type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. When an insulin Shot is missed, sugars shoot right up.

In type 2 diabetes, however, there is insulin resistance, there may be still a little insulin being produced, and the risk of sudden hyperglycemia is also present, especially when medications have not been taken for days.

5. Does Eating brown foods help manage Diabetes?

This one is too common, and a few years back this is almost all the information people living with diabetes had. Good nutrition is very important, for every individual not just diabetics.

There is no clear evidence that eating brown foods specifically can help manage diabetes. However, a balanced and healthy diet is important for managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Whether to go for brown bread, brown rice, or even brown ugali, is the question of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is very important and MUST be put into consideration when designing a diet for diabetics. The dietary fiber helps slow down digestion, giving your body time to do glucose uptake moderately.

This is very important to help reduce the risk of sudden hyperglycemia. As glucose gets absorbed slowly.

Brown bread and white bread, for example, may provide the same amount of carbohydrates but will have different amounts of dietary fibre. Brown bread has more dietary fibre as compared to white bread, and that’s because the processing of this white bread may snatch off a lot of dietary fibre making it less preferred.

These foods have a lower glycemic index, and that is what is recommended in most cases. Foods with a higher glycemic index are limited to keep blood glucose levels under control.

It’s therefore quite true that brown foods can help manage diabetes, but that is not all the information you need, you’ll also have to do portion control, space your meals, and include healthy snacks. 

Important is to vigilant as some processers may actually just add the brown colour to disguise most buyers, and therefore you have to feel for the dietary fibre texture while eating to ascertain.

6. Diabetics should not eat meat or fats at all.

While people with diabetes need to limit their intake of saturated and trans fats, it is not necessary to eliminate them from their diet. 

lean meats and healthy fats can be part of a balanced and healthy meal plan for managing diabetes. 

Meats are a source of protein, minerals, and even vitamins. When designing a diet plan for diabetics, this is a food group that must not be forgotten.

Proteins are an important part of every meal and help in the building and repair of body tissues and organs.

Plant proteins have always been preferred because they also provide dietary fibre in addition to several minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, and so on. Animal proteins on the other hand are to be eaten in moderation because of issues with fat.

Red meats especially contain saturated fats, saturated fat have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart attacks, and hypertension. Saturated fat may cause blockage in blood vessels (plaques) that block blood flow, leading to cardiovascular diseases.

That is why meats and fats are to be taken in moderation and not completely restricted. What should you do;

  1. Prefer Unsaturated fat from nuts and Vegetables.
  2. Remove any visible fats from meat, even skin from chicken.
  3. Remember portion control.

7. People with diabetes are always the ones walking around with sweets and juices.

For anyone diagnosed with diabetes and on medication, the risk of hypoglycemia is just as high as the risk of hyperglycemia. Unfortunately, hypoglycemia is even worse and can lead to loss of life quite fast. 

The causes of hypoglycemia may include;

  1. Skipping meals, and taking medication or insulin shots.
  2. Over-exercising.
  3. Overdose of insulin or other oral medication.
  4. Fasting.

When blood glucose level is too low, then a sweet snack is the solution, they can throw in a sweet, lick some oral glucose, eat a banana, drink a soda, push the glucose back up, and then follow by a proper meal.

That is why a diabetic individual has to always walk around with a sweet. It’s not a bad thing, and it’s probably not eating sweets that caused them diabetes, it is for emergencies.

Understanding diabetes involves a whole team of healthcare professionals and families, Getting the right information about diabetes can help a big deal in Saving so many lives.

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