Diabetes is an extremely common condition, impacting close to 30 million Americans in 2012 according to the American Diabetes Association.
Fortunately, many symptoms of diabetes can be well controlled by making a few changes to one's diet and lifestyle. Know what changes to make, though, can be a real challenge thanks to all the misconceptions that are out there.
To help you sort through all this misinformation and properly manage your diabetes, here are the top four diabetic diet myths that you need to know about.
1) Diabetes Is Caused by Sugar
Although there is a close connection between diabetes and sugar intake, the white stuff does not cause the condition. Instead, individuals are born with type 1 diabetes – although the exact cause is still unknown.
Type 2 diabetes, though, does develop later in life based on many lifestyle and genetic factors, including obesity. Since sugar can contribute to obesity by means of both excess calories and chronically high insulin levels, high sugar intake can be a risk factor.
Still, there are many other aspects of a person's health and history that come into play in the development of diabetes.
2) Forget About Carbs
Because all carbs – including sugar – can impact your insulin levels and therefore impact your diabetes, many people assume that they must cut all carbohydrates out their diets completely. This simply is not true.
Diabetes does impact the way that your body processes and responds to carbohydrates, however. So, to compensate, you will need to be mindful the type and number of carbs in your diet.
Depending on how quickly carbohydrates are absorbed into your body, they are ranked from 1 to 100 on a scale called the Glycemic Index. The lower the rating, the slower the absorption of that carbohydrate will be. This also means that will have a less dramatic impact on your insulin levels.
However, the rest of your diet and your activity levels will also influence that rate at which carbohydrates are put to use by your body.
3) Artificial Sweeteners Are Fine
To still be able to enjoy sweets while controlling their diabetes, many people will turn to artificial sweeteners. These products come from a variety of sources and go under lots of different names. What they all have in common, though, is that your body cannot metabolize them and they therefore contain no calories.
This seems pretty awesome in theory. Unfortunately, studies have found a direction connection between artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of developing diabetes. Additionally, these chemicals may also carry numerous other health risks.
4) You Need to Lose Tons of Weight
Diabetes patients are often aware of the link between their weight and diabetes, but are under the intimidating impression that they must undergo a massive weight loss to make any difference.
In reality, a weight loss of as little as 7 percent can cause significant improvements in your condition. It's not necessary, then, to feel pressured or intimidated by the prospect of having to take on a dramatic transformation.