SPONSORED: Tracy Ugarchund, a dietitian at Mediclinic Constantiaberg, sets the record straight about diabetes. Tracy Ugarchund sets the record straight about five common misconceptions surrounding one of the world’s fastest-growing diseases: type 2 diabetes.
Myth 1: diabetes is caused by being overweight
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics and lifestyle, and excess weight is certainly a risk factor.
Ugarchund says that other risk factors – like family history, ethnicity and age – also play a role; however, the causes are wide-ranging. “I have lots of patients who walk into my rooms who aren’t overweight or obese, but who are eating unhealthily,” she explains.
Myth 2: Eating sugar causes diabetes
Diabetes develops when something disrupts your body’s ability to turn the food you eat into energy.
So while excessive amounts of sugar could lead to type 2 diabetes, a diet that’s high in calories from any source will also contribute to weight gain (and, possibly, type 2 diabetes). One thing’s for certain: sugar-laden beverages are best avoided.
Myth 3: If you have diabetes, your body isn’t producing enough insulin
According to Ugarchund, if it’s type 1, then you don’t have enough insulin, but with type 2 it could either be that you don’t have enough insulin, or that you have less than you should. “Or you have enough but it’s not efficient.”
Most people with type 2 diabetes have enough insulin when they’re first diagnosed – it’s just that the insulin isn’t doing its job. In this case, your body’s insulin is not causing your cells to absorb glucose from your food. If this continues, your pancreas may eventually give up and stop producing enough insulin.
Myth 4: Diabetics can’t eat chocolate
“Anything can be eaten in reasonable, limited quantities,” says Ugarchund who adds, that when it comes to chocolate, there are better options for diabetics – like dark chocolate.
Bottom line: if you’re following a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, and watching your insulin intake, then diabetics can eat chocolate – in moderation.
Myth 5: Diabetic diets are too strict
If you’re diabetic, you’ll need to plan your meals – but that’s true for anybody who’s following a healthy lifestyle. Type 2 diabetics should follow a diet that’s low in saturated and trans fats, moderate in salt and sugar, and high in lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruit.
Get a free blood glucose and blood pressure test at participating hospitals.