Three Myths About Diabetes

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Myth 1: It’s okay for people with diabetes to drink diet soft drinks.

A 12 oz can of a typical regular soft drink contains close to 40 g of sugar, or about 9 teaspoons, and causes blood sugar levels to spike. The same is true of other sugary drinks, such as sweetened tea and coffee, energy drinks, and fruit juice. Does this mean that people with diabetes should drink diet soft drinks instead?

Even though diet soft drinks contain no sugar and few or no calories, recent studies have revealed that artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks decrease our ability to control the amount of food we eat. As a result, we end up eating more calories. People who drink diet soft drinks are thus at a much higher risk of being overweight than people who drink regular soft drinks, and obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

For people who already have type 2 diabetes, even though diet soft drinks are sugar free, they cause the pancreas to release insulin. If the diet soft drink is drunk between meals, then there is less insulin left for release during meals when it is needed, which causes blood sugar levels to spike. If drunk between meals, it can increase cravings for carbohydrate- and calorie-rich foods, which leads to weight gain.  Diet soft drinks are therefore not recommended for people with diabetes.

Myth 2: All diabetics are unhealthy and overweight.

People with type 2 diabetes have often acquired this disease because of poor diet and lifestyle choices. However, many of them are neither obese nor obviously unhealthy. People with a family history of type 2 diabetes, even though they have healthy lifestyles, are at higher risk of developing the disease.

Myth 3: There is no cure for diabetes and you have to take medication or insulin to treat it.

People with type 1 diabetes and advanced type 2 diabetes need to take prescription medication or insulin to control their blood sugar because their body can no longer produce enough insulin. However, people with type 2 diabetes can oftentimes prevent further progression and even reverse the disease by making dietary and lifestyle changes.

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