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Facts And Myths About Diabetes

According to latest statistics, over 65 million Indians suffer from different levels and types of diabetes. Known as the silent killer, this disease is dreaded all the more because of the prevalent myths surrounding it. We spoke to clinical nutritionist Dr Nupur Krishnan, and senior bariatric and metabolic surgeon, Dr Ramen Goel, to find our more. Here is a list of myths and facts…

Myth: Bitter tasting foods will lower blood sugar.

FACT: Consuming bitter tasting items like neem and bitter gourd (karela) will not reduce blood sugar because glucose is derived from foods rich in carbohydrates, even if they are not sweet.

Myth: A diabetic cannot consume any type of sweetener.

FACT: Direct sugar is usually omitted from the diet of most diabetics. However, sugar substitutes can be used in two forms; fructose sugar (fruits) and artificial sweeteners.

Myth: Diabetics cannot consume fruits.

FACT: Diabetics can consume fruits because they contain fibre and fructose sugar. Due to the fibre content of fruits, fructose is released slowly into the blood and our body can utilise fructose without insulin. However, fruit juices are not recommended because they don’t contain fibre. (Fruits like banana, chikoo, mango, grapes, sugarcane and custard apple are not recommended.)

Myth: All artificial sweeteners are safe to consume.

FACT: Many artificial sweeteners contain a substance called aspartame, which is a good sweetener for cold beverages and commonly used in many food products. However, it loses its sweetness at high temperature. For example, to sweeten one cup of hot tea or coffee we need more aspartame than to sweeten one cup of normal / cold water. So exercise caution in its use. Consuming more aspartame based sweeteners may cause abnormal functioning of the brain. Pregnant women, children and patients with advanced liver disease should avoid excess usage of aspartame. Opt for artificial sweeteners made of sucralose, which are safer and more stable in hot and cold conditions. Artificial sweeteners containing cyclamate are banned in most countries.

Myth: Diabetics can’t consume alcoholic drinks at all.

FACT: Diabetics are advised to avoid alcohol since it may lead to a major drop in blood sugar. However, one drink of alcohol is permitted once a week depending on individual health conditions. 1 drink = 12 ounces of beer/ 5 ounces of wine/ 1 ½ ounces of distilled spirit. (1 ounce = 30 ml)

Myth: Diabetics must refrain from eating out.

FACT: A diabetic can eat out at a restaurant, as long as the food is hygienically prepared.

Myth: Diabetics should not eat rice.

FACT: Diabetics can consume rice, but the quantity and quality always depends on the nature and degree of diabetes.

Myth: Diabetics don’t need bariatric surgery

FACT: Bariatric surgery is offered to individuals with excessive weight and also those suffering from diabetes, high BP, joint pains, irregular periods, infertility, breathing problems like asthma, sleep apnoea etc. Since it is done through key hole (lap) route and is effective in majority of patients, its acceptance is increasing in society rapidly.

Myth: Diabetics need to lose weight fast.

FACT: Obesity and diabetes are two sides of the same coin. Obese people are advised to lose about two kg per month. However, sudden weight loss through crash diets is not advisable.

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