By: Dr Sherry Chandy
Like all complicated matters there are certain misunderstandings regarding Diabetes.
Let us dispel some myths regarding diabetes:
Can I get diabetes from someone else?
Eating too much sugar causes diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is mild diabetes
People with diabetes eventually go blind
It’s not safe to drive if you have diabetes
People with diabetes can’t play sport
People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses
People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate
People with diabetes shouldn’t eat bananas or grapes
People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods
Now for some serious myth bashing…
Can I get diabetes from someone else?
Although we don’t know exactly why some people get diabetes, we know that diabetes is not contagious – You cannot get it from others. There is a chance that a person whose parents or brothers and sisters have diabetes might get diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes. But lifestyle factors also play a part.
Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Eating sugar does not cause diabetes. Diabetes is caused by a combination of inherited and lifestyle factors. However, eating a diet high in fat and sugar can cause you to become overweight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, so if you have a history of diabetes in your family, a healthy diet and regular exercise are recommended to control your weight.
Type 2 diabetes is mild diabetes.
There is no such thing as mild or borderline diabetes. All diabetes is equally serious, and if not properly controlled can lead to serious complications.
People with diabetes eventually go blind.
Although diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age, research has proved you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes complications – such as damage to your eyes – if you:
• Control your blood pressure and glucose levels
• Keep active
• Maintain your ideal body weight
• Give up smoking
It’s not safe to drive if you have diabetes.
Providing you are responsible and have good control of your diabetes, research shows that people with diabetes are no less safe on the roads than anyone else. Nevertheless, the myth that people with diabetes are not safe persists
People with diabetes can’t play sports.
Pakistan’s famous all-rounder Wasim Akram has diabetes; many other people with diabetes take part in active sports. People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Keeping active can help avoid complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease. There may be some considerations to take into account with your diabetes before taking up a new exercise regime – talk to your doctor for more information.
People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.
No. You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you’ve got diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu vaccinations. This is because any infection interferes with your blood glucose control, putting you at risk of high blood glucose levels and, for those with Type 1 diabetes, an increased risk of ketoacidosis.
People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.
Sweets and chocolate can be eaten by people with diabetes just like the rest of us, if eaten as part of a healthy diet. Remember that confectionery foods tend to be higher in fat and calories too so for this reason they should be limited especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
People with diabetes shouldn’t eat bananas or grapes.
All fruit and vegetables are extremely good for you. Eating more can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, some cancers and some gut problems. You should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. This also helps to improve the overall balance of the diet. Eating a variety of different fruit and vegetables ensure you get the maximum benefit.
People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
Diabetic versions of foods offer no special benefit. They still raise blood glucose levels, contain just as much fat and calories, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect. The healthy diet for people with diabetes is the same as that recommended for everyone – low in fat, salt and sugar, with meals including starchy foods like bread and pasta and plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Dr Sherry Chandy is a Medical Domain Specialist at Yos Technologies.
He is a medical doctor and ophthalmologist by profession with special interests in enabling better health care through the use of information technology.