According to recent data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), only in Brasil there were 14.3 million diabetics. Of these, 10% have type 1 diabetes of genetic origin, and 90% type 2, linked to a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Therefore, today we would like to talk about 7 Myths and Truths about Diabetes, highlighting the importance of raising awareness of good practices for preventing and treating the disease, which affects 9.4% of Brazilians. Check it out:
1) Diabetics can eat as much fruit as they want
FALSE. Fruit is a healthy option and should be consumed in a balanced diet, but pay attention to the “as much as they want” in this statement. Although they are rich in vitamins and minerals, fruit contains much natural sugar, fructose, which can increase glucose levels in the blood. Because of this, people with diabetes should spread the portions of fruit (the guidance for the general population is three to five portions) throughout the day, giving preference to those with a low glycemic index, such as apples, oranges, and strawberries.
We should also combine the consumption of fruits with oilseeds and foods rich in fiber, such as chia or pumpkin seeds and oat bran, an excellent strategy to slow down the absorption of sugar and avoid spikes in blood glucose.
2) Diabetics cannot eat bread, pasta, and sweets
FALSE. People with diabetes can consume all types of foods, as long as they are in their eating plan – individualized nutritional guidance, developed in partnership with a doctor or nutritionist.
Usually, the orientation involves the consumption of small amounts balanced with the other meals of the day. There are also ideal times to consume sweets, such as after meals, when sugar absorption occurs more slowly, and after exercise lasting more than an hour, for energy replenishment.
3) Overeating sugar causes diabetes
IT DEPENDS. While type 1 diabetes has genetic and autoimmune origins, in which antibodies attack and destroy insulin-producing cells, type 2 diabetes, which represents 90% of cases, is linked to obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, inadequate nutrition, and genetic predisposition.
Therefore, the answer is not simple, but research has already shown that sugary drinks, such as industrialized juices and soft drinks, may be linked to the development of type 2 diabetes.
4) Diabetes can cause heart, kidney, skin, dental, vision, and pregnancy complications
TRUE. Consequently, blood glucose control is essential. The sooner the disease is controlled, the better the evolution, with fewer chronic complications. Prolonged periods of hyperglycemia can affect organs, nerves, and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as neuropathies, arterial problems, amputations, kidney failure, pregnancy complications, glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathies, greater chances of skin infections by fungi and bacteria, mood swings such as anxiety and depression, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation problems.
However, the risk of developing these complications is drastically reduced with the proper management of blood glucose levels.
5) Some foods help control blood glucose levels
TRUE. Consumption of foods high in dietary fiber and low in glycemic indexes, such as whole wheat flour, legumes, and vegetables, is linked to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. This is because soluble fiber can bind to fat and sugar molecules, eliminating them in the feces.
According to the WHO, for every 8 grams extra of dietary fiber ingested per day, there is a 5% to 27% reduction in the risk of developing coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer.
6) Diabetes is a risk factor for worsening Covid-19
IT DEPENDS. People with diabetes are not at a greater risk of infection but instead of developing the severe version of COVID-19. This risk is considerably reduced if blood sugar levels are controlled.
7) The consumption of alcoholic beverages by diabetics can lead to episodes of both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
TRUE. In addition to being very caloric, alcoholic beverages interfere with the action of insulin, insulin secretagogues, and glucagon, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia in individuals who use these substances to control diabetes.
According to the Brazilian Society of Diabetes Guidelines, daily alcohol intake for adults with diabetes should be limited to one drink or less for women and two drinks or less for men.
One drink = 150 ml of wine (one glass), 360 ml of beer (one small can), or 45 ml of spirits (one dose with the standard dispenser).