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Five diabetes myths, busted
June 24th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

Five diabetes myths, busted

David Kendall, M.D., is the chief scientific and medical officer of the The American Diabetes Association. The group’s 71st Scientific Sessions begin Friday in San Diego, California, with presentations of the latest research, treatment recommendations and advances toward a cure for diabetes.

Each year diabetes accounts for more deaths than breast cancer and AIDS combined. While diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) is ever more manageable because of advances in medication, a better understanding of blood glucose monitoring and new technologies for delivering insulin, uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes still remains the leading cause of blindness in adults, kidney failure and amputation.

There are many myths about diabetes - myths that can do much harm. Many believe that diabetes is “just a touch of sugar,” or only something we develop in later life.

Although diabetes is manageable, the diabetes epidemic continues to grow; every 17 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes and at the current rate, one in three people in the U.S. will have diabetes by the year 2050.

Knowing the facts (and your own risk) can help all of us fight the misconceptions associated with this awful disease and ultimately stop diabetes.

So take a minute to learn the facts about diabetes. The more we know, the better equipped we are to detect, prevent and treat diabetes and its deadly complications.

1) Myth: Diabetes is really no big deal.

Fact: As I’ve already noted, diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. The risk of heart problems is more than twice as high in people with diabetes and two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Uncontrolled diabetes also leads to a host of other complications.

2) Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: There is no one food or nutrient that causes diabetes. Type 1 diabetes (where all of the body’s insulin producing cells are destroyed) develops both because of genetics and from poorly understood environmental triggers that result in the onset of the disease. Type 2 diabetes is the result of both genetic and lifestyle factors.

There is no question that being overweight or obese increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Weight gain occurs as a result of excess calories, and whether these calories come from a soda, breads, snacks or meat doesn’t generally matter. Because of genetics, some people gain weight more easily than others, but there is still an imbalance between calories eaten and those burned off.

Because of the complex relationship between genetics, the environment and lifestyle, it is incorrect to say that sugar causes diabetes.

3) Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: As we stated earlier, being overweight is a very important risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, it is the most important modifiable risk factor. Other risk factors such as a family history of type 2 diabetes, ethnicity and age are things that you cannot change.

It is also true that most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and as many as one-fourth of people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight. The thing to keep in mind is that if you have a family history of diabetes, you should do your best to be physically active and eat a healthy diet. If you are overweight, losing about 7% of your weight (14 pounds for a 200 pound person) can help delay or prevent diabetes.

4) Myth: If you have diabetes, you can’t eat any bread, potatoes, pasta, fruit, sugar or dessert.

Fact: This is a long-held misconception about the carbohydrates in food. With carbohydrates - and calories in general - it all comes back to portion sizes or how much you eat.

Starchy foods and fruit can be included in a meal plan for people with diabetes. The best tip is to have no more than 1/4 of your plate from starchy foods like whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice or starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn.

Fill half of your plate with low carbohydrate non-starchy vegetables like salad, broccoli, green beans or tomatoes. The last quarter of your plate is for fish, chicken, lean meats or meat substitutes. This helps to control the amount of carbohydrate that you eat while providing lots of fiber and healthy food choices.

5) Myth: People with diabetes can't eat sweets or chocolate.

Fact: Sweet foods (including most dessert items), if eaten in small portions, can be eaten by people with diabetes. There is no such thing as a “off limit” food; however, the key is substituting in a sweet treat into an otherwise healthy meal plan.

Everyone - diabetes or no diabetes - should avoid empty calories (those without real food value) and limit the total amount of calories they consume (and yes, most desserts are high in calories).

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  3. CuredMyDianeges

    Is the author really this stupid?
    By cutting out the garbage mentioned here you can reverse diabetes. Get rid of the carbs and you get rid of type 2 diabetes. Plain and simple.

    May 16, 2017 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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  7. Mike Lowery

    I was 44 when I had a widowmaker heart attack. My LAD was 100% occluded. In laymen's terms: "The main artery that feeds the left side of the heart got turned off completely!" NOT GOOD. I was overweight and I wasn't doing anything to control my type-2 diabetes. that was three years ago. After the doctors successfully cleared the blockage and opened the artery up by inserting 2 stents back to back I was out of immediate danger of dying but once someone suffers the level of heart attack I had, you are never going to be like your old self again in terms of your level of physical stamina and endurance. I felt great, in fact better than I had felt in years just a day after having the heart attack. This is because the artery that was the reason for the heart attack had been slowly deteriorating into a state where catastrophic failure of the arterial walls took place. So while I was in the hospital I had several tutoring sessions on how to properly manage my blood gluclose by monitoring and properly injecting the two insulins they put me on. So I do great right after I am released from the hospital. I lose 60 pounds and I'm keeping my BG numbers where they are supposed to be. Nothing about carbohydrates was ever mentioned in anyway to me by my doctors or medical team. I basically kept eating the same foods but also made sure I was using insulin properly. Let me tell you, stabbing your fingers 5-8 times a day for monitoring starts to drag on you to the point where just thinking testing your level will make your fingers ache and throb. Then injecting yourself 5 times a day (at least) with insulin is just as fun. Well eventually my self managing quality began to rapidly decline to where 2 years after the heart attack my A1C was 11.2 and I was a walking time bomb once again. I had a new doctor though and he explained the dangers untreated type 2 diabetes. So I went home and I decided I didn't want to stab myself dozens of times everyday for the rest of my life and I also didn't want to finish out my days by slowly losing body parts, my eyesight and everything else type 2 diabetes brings. Especially another heart attack. I started to research for myself and I basically learned how all the stuff I thought was food isn't, how the human body requires ZERO carbohydrates to exist and that the only thing we stick in our mouths that will raise blood glucose are carbohydrates. Nothing difficult about understanding the idea that something my body doesn't require in anyway for me to live is the only thing that is causing my blood glucose levels to be dangerously high. So right there and then I decided to drop carbs from my diet and replace them with fat. I didn't restrict the amount of food I ate I just cut anything that was a carbohydrate from the menu and ate till I was full. I love fats like cream, butter, avocados etc. so it wasn't that hard. There were times where I NEEDED a brownie or a real sandwich but the first month I made myself go without. By the first week's end I stopped requiring insulin with each meal. At three weeks my Lantus dose was at half of what it was prescribed to be. Then at the end of the first month I platued with the lantus dose at a quarter of what I was originally taking. My blood sugar became completely normal overall but every time I tried to decrease the insulin more it would rise. So at my next doctor's appointment, exactly 3 months after the one where my A1C was 11.2 it came in at 6.7! My doctor's eyes were wide and he was elated. I told him I was off the insulin every meal and only taking a quarter of my lantus dose to have a stable BG level. I then kind of scolded him by saying "All I did was eliminate carbs from my diet! That's it and not once did anyone in your profession ever even mention the concept!" I know why. The two insulins I was told I was required to take to live cost over $600.00 per month! This is big business. My little self ran experiment opened my eyes to one thing. The only thing I do not require to continue a healthy life is carbohydrates! I think I may have over stressed my endochrin system because I still require the same dose of lantus to keep my BG stable but Im fine with that. The brownie cravings still hit me as do wanting a sandwich with good hearty bread and you know what, I feed those cravings now and it doesn't do anything to my BG. Proof is in the pudding they say so I went out and proved this to myself. America is the worst place for a low to no carb diet but it's not impossible and if it is going to be you and your body parts or the garbage sold as food, the decision should be easy for anyone.

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