Diabetes myths demystified

There are many mistaken beliefs revolving around diabetes. Unfortunately, these myths create a negative picture for diabetes that is neither accurate nor correct.

There are many mistaken beliefs revolving around diabetes. Unfortunately, these myths create a negative picture for diabetes that is neither accurate nor correct. Misconceptions such as persons with diabetes must follow a strict diet and always need to follow a low sodium diet are not true. Persons with diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes can eat. Having diabetes does not mean you have to cut salt and sodium from your diet.

Here are some myths clarified by Michigan State University Extension:

Myth: People with diabetes cannot eat the same foods as people without diabetes.

Everyone with diabetes or not should have a variety of healthful foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and heart healthy fats. Nutrition guidelines for diabetics are flexible, allowing favorite foods to be included. Diabetic foods generally do not offer any extra benefit.

Myth: People with diabetes cannot eat too many starchy foods, as they will raise blood glucose levels and cause weight gain.

Starchy foods provide carbohydrates which are the body’s source of energy. Everyone needs some carbohydrates in their body. Weight gain occurs when there are more calories taken in than expended. This goes for any food. Keeping your blood glucose levels in a safe range includes knowing how much of the healthy foods to eat and including physical activity to maintain a healthy weight. Include whole grain foods for fiber and a healthy intestinal system.

Myth: People with diabetes cannot have salt.

This is not necessary as diabetes is not affected by a person’s salt and sodium intake. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and persons with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure. Foods containing high levels of sodium include; canned soup, cold-cut meats, condiments and canned vegetables. It would be advantageous for persons with diabetes to cut back on their sodium intake.

Myth: People with diabetes can eat as much fat as they want.

Fat can have an effect on blood glucose levels by slowing digestion and making it more difficult for insulin to work. This can cause high blood glucose levels for hours after a fatty meal. Some fats can increase cholesterol and increase a person’s risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Having diabetes does not mean that you cannot enjoy the healthy foods that your family and friends are eating. Consulting a dietitian at your local hospital will help you to better plan your meals and understand what you need to do to control your blood glucose levels.

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