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When left untreated or poorly managed, diabetes can be devastating. Most people think that diabetes is very difficult to manage and so there are many inaccuracies commonly peddled about the disease.
We have taken time to address some of these fictions and give you the real facts about diabetes.
Fiction: Diabetes is caused by taking carbonated drinks or sugar
Fact: Type 2 Diabetes is not caused by consuming carbonated drinks or sugar. It is a result of insulin resistance which occurs silently over the years. Insulin is a hormone responsible for reducing blood sugar. Factors like obesity, genetic predisposition and unhealthy lifestyle choices like chronic alcohol intake and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to the development of diabetes.
Fiction: Bitter leaf or other herbal preparations can cure diabetes
Fact: While studies confirm that bitter leaf indeed has properties that can help lower the blood sugar, it is not a cure for diabetes. Attaining blood sugar control involves making healthy dietary and lifestyle choices and taking medications judiciously. The use of herbs is discouraged because while these preparations may have blood sugar-lowering properties, they are unrefined and often contain toxic properties which can worsen your condition.
Fiction: Skipping meals will help lower your blood sugar
Fact: It is true that lower blood sugar levels are desirable when you have diabetes. However, the aim is not to tip it below the normal levels. When you skip meals, you run the risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia indeed kills faster than high blood sugar. Some signs of hypoglycaemia include fatigue, dizziness, tremors and unconsciousness. Eating three square meals and taking your medications as prescribed is safer for you.
Fiction: Avoid carbohydrates in your diet completely
Fact: Your diet is a key part of the treatment of diabetes. There is no special diet but diabetic patients must make healthy food choices. This involves eating balanced diets that contains all the constituents of food in the right proportions. This means that you should not avoid carbohydrates. The better approach is to eat healthier forms of carbohydrates like brown rice, whole wheat and oatmeal.
Fiction: You should eat only beans and unripe plantain once you have diabetes
Fact: People living with diabetes are not condemned to a narrow range of food choices. This can lead to food fatigue and malnutrition, due to repeated meals without variety. A big misconception is that beans only contain protein and as such is a better alternative to rice and other staples. Our staple beans in Nigeria actually has more carbohydrate than protein – up to 60% carbohydrate and 40% protein. Also, while unripe protein does indeed have low sugar content, it is not meant to be the sole source of food for diabetic patients. Eat widely, and eat healthily!
By Dr.Okonkwor Oyor C.