Has someone told you that eating too much sugar causes diabetes? Or that you’ll have to give up all your favorite foods when you’re on a diabetes diet? Not true! There are plenty of myths about diabetes and food. We'll separate facts from fiction about diabetes here.
Don White, 68, a retired science teacher from upstate New York, first
suspected he had type 2 diabetes when he was 45
years old and his school held a health fair for students and teachers. A simple
prick of his finger to test for high blood sugar -- a sign of diabetes -- revealed some
"My numbers were way above normal," says White. "In a matter of
days, and a couple of doctor's appointments later, I found out I had type 2
White and his family were surprised by...
Simply eating too much sugar is unlikely to cause diabetes. Instead, diabetes begins when something disrupts your body's ability to turn the food you eat into energy.
To understand what happens when you have diabetes, keep these things in mind: Your body breaks down much of the food you eat into glucose, a type of sugar needed to power your cells. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which helps the cells in the body use glucose for fuel.
Here are the most common types of diabetes and what we know about their causes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot make insulin. Without insulin, sugar piles up in your blood. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to help get the sugar into the cells. Type 1 diabetes often starts in younger people or in children. Researchers say it may be triggered when something goes wrong with the immune system.
Type 2 diabetes happens when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, the insulin does not work properly, or both. Being overweight makes type 2 diabetes more likely. It can happen in a person of any age.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy in some women. Hormone changes during pregnancy prevent insulin from working properly. Women with gestational diabetes usually need to take insulin. The condition may disappear after the child is born.
Myth 2: There Are Too Many Rules in a Diabetes Diet.
If you have diabetes, you will need to plan your meals. But the general principle is simple: Choose foods that will work along with your activities and any medications to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
Will you need to make adjustments to what you now eat? Probably. But your new diet may not require as many changes as you think.
Myth 3: Carbohydrates Are Bad for Diabetes.
In fact, carbohydrates (or "carbs," as most of us call them) are good for diabetes. They form the foundation of a healthy diabetes diet -- or of any healthy diet.
Carbs have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels, which is why a diabetes diet asks you to monitor how many of them you eat. But they also contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So choose those with the most nutrients, such as whole-grain breads, and high-fiber fruits and vegetables. You may find it easier to select the best carbs if you meet with a dietitian.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.