Everything You Really Need To Know About Diabetes
It’s actually a complex disease that’s affecting an alarming number of the population. Here’s every myth you’ve ever heard, and what the truth is.
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that close to 2 million South African adults, which make up 6.5% of the population, have diabetes. More recently, a national survey published in August 2013 (SANHANES-1, 2013) showed that 9.5 % of the study population has diabetes and 18.4 % are pre-diabetic. This is a conservative estimate, as 50% to 85% of the population, particularly those living in rural areas, have not been tested and could push that statistic much higher. People with common conditions such as hypertension and obesity are at a greater risk of developing diabetes, so when it comes to preventing and managing the disease’s effects, a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition are essential.
Woolworths dietitian, Cindy Chin dispels some myths about living with diabetes…
Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Diabetes
Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes, but an unhealthy lifestyle and poor nutrition may. It’s a combination of genetics and other unknown factors that trigger the onset of Type 1 diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. The truth is that a diet high in kilojoules can cause you to become overweight, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetics Can’t Eat Any Sugar Or Sugary Foods
Having diabetes doesn’t mean that you have to have a sugar-free diet. In the past, diabetics have been advised to avoid sugar as much as possible, but research shows that sugars from fruit, vegetables and dairy products are an acceptable part of a healthy diet. Diabetics should be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar. In fact, up to 10% of total daily energy requirements may consist of sugars like table sugar and sugar-sweetened products, without having a negative effect on blood sugar levels.
People With Diabetes Should Avoid Certain Fruits
The belief that diabetics should avoid certain fruits, like grapes and bananas, is a common misconception. You can still achieve good blood sugar control while incorporating these fruits into a balanced diet because they have a similar sugar content per portion to other fruits. Grapes and bananas are both healthy food choices for people with diabetes as they are high in fibre, low in fat and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Diabetics Should Eat Special Diabetic Food
Many diabetics believe that foods labeled as ‘suitable for diabetics’ are beneficial or even essential for good health, when in fact many of these products can be high in saturated fat and calories and may still raise blood sugar levels. According to Cindy, the key to nutrition for diabetics is to include a wide variety of foods and focus on portion size and balanced meals.