From "50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It"


TRUTH:  Actually, it doesn't—at least not in the way you think. Diabetes is caused by a genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors, or by an autoimmune reaction. However, in the case of type 2 diabetes, eating excessive amounts of sugar may influence whether or not the genes for diabetes get triggered.

       Talking to groups of people with diabetes, I realize how many people still believe this myth. They’re sure they got diabetes because they ate a lot of pie and ice cream as a kid―or last month. In fact, while checking into my hotel in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to address a group of diabetes patients the next morning, I noticed a platter of home-baked chocolate chip cookies at the reception desk. As I eyed the cookies, debating with myself whether to indulge, the woman who was checking me in picked up a cookie and, with a wink and a smile, said, “I probably shouldn’t eat this. My mother has type 2 diabetes and this may just seal my fate.” Yes, she may get diabetes if she consumes too many calories and becomes overweight, but not because those calories are coming from sugar.

     None of the various types of diabetes, including the more common type 2, type 1, and gestational diabetes, share the same cause, yet none is caused by eating sweet or starchy foods...Even though eating sugar does not cause diabetes, “If you have the gene for diabetes, eating an excess of sweets, over time, may accelerate the onset of diabetes by overstressing your beta cells causing them to become compromised,” says Dr. Gerald Bernstein, director of the Diabetes Management Program at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. Bernstein also says that consuming too many calories and too much fat contributes to insulin resistance, which hastens the expression of the gene(s) for diabetes. Dr. Bernstein advises that if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and like to eat sweets, you should make sure you get enough physical activity to burn off excess calories and keep your weight in check. This will help neutralize stress to the beta cells.

Tip to Make You Tops

  Diagnostic criteria for diabetes—A fasting plasma glucose test (blood test
  performed in the morning before you eat) shows that your blood glucose
  (sugar) is 126 mg/dl (7 mmol/l) or higher, or an oral glucose tolerance test
  (OGTT) [you drink a sweet liquid containing glucose, and blood samples are
  drawn before and one, two, and three hours afterward], shows two hours
  into the test your blood glucose is 200 mg/dl (11 mmol/l) or higher, and/or
  two random blood sugar readings are 200 mg/dl (11 mmol/l) or higher. 



  TRUTH:  Actually, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are equally

serious, because they both can lead to the same devastating complications.  

      Medical professionals will tell you that both types of diabetes are serious
  because they can cause the same debilitating and life-threatening diabetic
  complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure,
  blindness, amputation, gastro-paresis, and sexual dysfunction. Although
  type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ in their causes, treatments, and typical
  ages of onset, both conditions share a lack of insulin efficiency. In both
  cases, elevated blood glucose levels over time can damage large and small
  blood vessels throughout the body, resulting in complications.

  People with type 2 diabetes are equally prone to complications

     Barry got type 2 diabetes in his thirties. After a short burst of enthusiasm
  that involved following a healthful diet and getting regular physical activity
  at his tree-trimming business, he fell back into his old unhealthful eating
  habits and traded in his electric saw for an electric typewriter at a desk job.
  Within five or six years Barry’s doctor put him on one oral medication, a
  few years later he added a second, and, approaching fifty, Barry started
  taking insulin before each meal. His most recent decade of living with
  diabetes Barry’s blood sugars have been nearly picture-perfect, but earlier
  neglect caused Barry, over the past seven years, to have open-heart
  surgery and to develop neuropathy in both feet so painful that he can’t walk
  much anymore. “I know this is from my sugars not being in control in the
  beginning,” Barry said. “During that time, in fact, twice they found me out
  here in my yard in a semi-coma. I wasn’t behaving then or checking my
  blood sugars like I do today.”   


TRUTH: Actually, you should eat only fifteen grams of fast-acting carbohydrate and then check your blood sugar. 

    Years ago when I experienced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), I would stand in front of my open refrigerator and proceed to eat everything in sight. My ravenous hunger and rapid heartbeat (two symptoms of hypoglycemia) and, to be honest, the excuse that now I could eat sweets, prompted me to devour anything sweet I could get my hands on: a handful of cookies, a piece or two of cake, a banana, raspberry preserves on toast...mmm...I’d eat all of this while waiting for my blood sugar to rise. 

    When I got a blood sugar meter some years later and started testing, I saw that my “eat-everything-sweet-in-sight” treatment gave me, an hour or so later, a blood sugar of about 350 mg/dl (19.4 mmol/l)! Today I know both from experience and from teaching others that the best way to treat low blood sugar is to (1) raise your blood sugar as quickly as possible and (2) do it in such a way that your blood sugar doesn’t go above target range. That means following the Rule of 15. 

Tip to Make You Tops

If your blood sugar has been high for some time and it begins to come down, you may experience what feels like (but probably isn’t) hypoglycemia.   


TRUTH: Actually, a modest weight loss can improve your blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood fat levels and can reduce your risk of diabetic complications.

     You may have heard it from your doctor a million times: “Lose weight and get more exercise.” And you may have tried to do it just as many times, or so it feels. What is seldom told to patients, however, is that although getting your weight to a healthy range is ideal, numerous benefits are achieved just by losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. In other words, you don’t have to lose a lot of weight to improve your blood sugar control and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, need for medication, and risk of diabetic complications. Losing just ten to fifteen pounds, studies show, creates these improvements for many people.

     Although total body fat is important, most obesity experts consider where fat tissue is located on your body to be the main predictor of weight-related diseases such as atherosclerosis and heart disease...

 Here are some helpful steps to weight loss:

              Keep a food diary—Write down what you eat. According to one of the largest and longest-running weight loss trials ever conducted (by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research), writing down what you eat, identifying your habits, and making small changes can double your weight loss.

              After-dinner treats—Decide that any snacking after dinner will be on only healthful foods.  

            •  Check your medications—If your diabetes medications cause weight gain, find out whether you could benefit from medications that actually help most people lose weight, such as Byetta® and Symlin®, or Januvia® which is weight neutral.                                                   

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