Myths about Diabetes and Diet - Top 3 Myths Busted

Myths about Diabetes and Diet - Top 3 Myths Busted

When it comes to diabetes and diet there so much conflicting information. This makes it extremely difficult for people with diabetes to understand what healthy choices is best to lower blood glucose levels towards normal levels.

Many people with diabetes eat a very restrictive diet where they give up all their favourite foods or give up and depend on diabetes medication to keep their blood glucose levels under control.

A simple Google search will leave you confused and overwhelmed. Today, we address three common diabetes diet myths, which people with diabetes can benefit from.

  1. Can diabetics eat fruits?
  2. Should diabetics avoid carbs?
  3. Is diabetes age related with diet having little or no role to play?

This is just the tip of the iceberg for people with type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus.

Today we bust these three popular diabetes myths and talk about what the facts actually are.

What is the root cause of Diabetes Mellitus

Before you get into each of these myths, understanding the root cause of diabetes is necessary.

  • The commonly held belief is sugar causes diabetes. So avoiding sugar in all forms, is presented as a solution.

This is why, to keep blood sugar control, people with diabetes are told to completely avoid fruit, cut out carbs and lower sugar intake to a minimum.

  • Many of you are also told that genetics is what causes diabetes. So if you have a family history of diabetes, it's only a matter of time before you get it too, because it runs in your genes.

No matter what you, what your overall lifestyle is, if it is in your genes you cannot avoid it.

  • You may have also heard that diabetes is age related. It is presented as a consequence of getting old.

"Eat all the sweet food you want now when you're young, enjoy your ice cream, chocolates and other sugary foods. Anyway once you're diabetic you will have to avoid sweets and sugar intake"

This is something you may have heard from your older relatives or people with diabetes as a joke.

  • The good news is that none of these are true. Diabetes is actually a long-term (chronic) disease, a chronic lifestyle disease, which is caused by fat accumulation in the muscle cells and insulin resistance as a consequence.

Why is this good news?

It's because your lifestyle, not your genes, not your age, determinants whether or not you will get Diabetes.

And your lifestyle is in your hands.So you can actually do something about it today. You can not only prevent, lower your risk for diabetes, but also better manage and even potentially reverse type 2 diabetes.

  • If you are not diabetic but have a family history of diabetes, changing your lifestyle today can actually lower your risk for diabetes and even keep yourself from ever getting diabetes. You can lower risk of other chronic lifestyle diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, and even cardiovascular disease with the same lifestyle changes.
  • If you are diabetic or have borderline diabetes, you can make better lifestyle choices today and lower risk of side effects, better manage your sugar levels, potentially reduce medication and even potentially reverse diabetes.
  • Your diabetes diagnosis is not a life sentence. You can improve your health by leaps and bounds, get your sugar in control, even achieve normal blood sugar levels. The trifecta of a balanced meal plan, regular exercise and stress management is the place to begin when it comes to your lifestyle.

What's more?

You can do all this while still enjoying your favorite foods, without eating unrealistically small portion size of food, and enjoying a wide variety of delicious dishes.

Diabetes - Common Myths

Now let us take a look at each of these myths in detail.

  • Carbohydrates Are Bad for Diabetes

    "Oh! its the carbs! Just cut it out and you'll lose weight"
    "Diabetic? Stop having carbs. That's the main culprit!"
    "Don't eat carbs at night!"

    You have probably heard one or all of these. Low-carb diets are becoming popular and further pushing these myths.

    Did you know?

    Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy. They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. ๐Ÿคฏ

    The problem is not carbs, its the SOURCE of carbs, the type of carb that you eat determines your health outcomes.

    If the main sources of carbs is your daily diet are from refined foods like:
    ๐Ÿš White Rice
    ๐Ÿš Maida (including bread, pasta, biscuits, noodles)
    ๐Ÿš Rava
    ๐Ÿš Semiya
    ๐Ÿš White Sugar
    ๐Ÿš Jaggery
    ๐Ÿš Honey

    then, yes, you must work on reducing and replacing them with healthy, complex carbs - unrefined high-carb foods like:
    ๐Ÿ  Brown/Red/Black Rice
    ๐Ÿ  Unpolished Millets
    ๐Ÿ  Legumes
    ๐Ÿ  Whole Wheat
    ๐Ÿ  Starchy Vegetables
    ๐Ÿ  Whole Fruits
    ๐Ÿ  Dates and other dry fruits

    The solution is not to cut out carbs or replace it with more fat or protein, but to replace refined carbs with whole plant sources, like carbohydrates from vegetables, whole grain bread instead of white bread, whole fresh fruit instead of fruit juices, sugary drinks can go a long way for diabetic patients in the treatment of diabetes. ๐ŸŒพ

    โœ… These whole plant foods rich in carbs give your body the energy it requires to fuel your vital organs on a daily basis.
    โœ… They are also high fiber foods that ensure that you have steady blood sugar levels.
    โœ… They are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that boost overall health unlike sugar and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.

  • Diabetics Should Avoid Fruits

How true is this?

The reasons why Diabetics are advised against fruits are:

๐Ÿ“ˆ Fruits have high sugar content and are more rapidly absorbed leading to higher spikes in blood sugar
๐Ÿ’‰ Fruits have too much sugar which can contribute to weight gain, which may lead to higher blood sugar

Is this true? ๐Ÿค”

๐Ÿ‡ While fruits do have natural sugars in them - Glucose and Fructose, they are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and most importantly, fibre. This is important because fibre not only slows absorption, keeping blood sugar levels stable, but also has most of the phytonutrients bound to it. So eating whole fruit has actually found to be beneficial for people with Diabetes.
๐Ÿ Whole fruits and smoothies with the fibre intact are recommended. Fruit juices and extracts without the fibre are to be avoided, especially for people with Diabetes

What's more?

๐Ÿ“‘ A recent meta-analysis showed that eating 600 grams of fruits a day reduces risk of developing metabolic syndrome by a whopping 34%! Metabolic syndrome is characterised by abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, high BP and insulin resistance. Reduction in risk of metabolic syndrome in turn reduces risk of diabetes and heart disease. Fruits and other whole plant foods can help both in prevention as well as treatment of diabetes

๐Ÿฅญ Even Fruits like Mangoes are not only safe for Diabetics, but have also found to be helpful! Give diabetics some freeze dried mango every day for three months without any change in their diet or exercise, and their blood sugar drops by 4 points.

  • Diabetes is age related with diet having little or no role to play?

Diabetes is not age related, it is a lifestyle related disease. In fact in India, the average age of onset of diabetes has been reducing rapidly since the early 90s.

A retrospective evaluation study show that the average age of onset of diabetes was 48.53 years between 1991 - 1995. It decreases to 42.70 years between 1996 - 2000. It has been continually decreasing since and was down to 36.14 years between 2016-2018.

In 2018 another study put Indians between the age group of 18 to 35 most vulnerable to type 2 Diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic lifestyle disease. This means that it has its roots in your lifestyle. This is why we see the average age of onset of diabetes reducing. Over the last few decades our lifestyle has taken a turn for the worse. With the steep increase in consumption of animal foods and processed foods, sedentary lifestyles and heightened stress levels - today, we are seeing an increase in the number of diabetic patients under the age of 35.

Not only does diet have a role to play, it may be one of the most important factors in whether you get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or not.

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Video Transcript: Myths about Diabetes and Diet -Top 3 myths busted

Hello everyone and welcome to today's live on Sampoorna Ahara. My name is Shyamala and I'm Dr. Achyuthan and we're the co-founders of Nutritionscience.in at SampoornaAhara.com.

In today's live, we'll be talking about something that we get asked very often that is myths about diabetes. There are several myths when it comes to type 2 diabetes and today we will be addressing three of the most common myths and Dr. Achyuthan will be giving us the facts that will help you and your family manage and treat diabetes in a much more effective way.

If you are diabetic today, you would have heard something from your doctor, you heard something from your relatives, from your friends, something from the internet, something from newspapers. There's so much of information and misinformation out there, it can be quite confusing not knowing what to do. Not knowing can you treat it? can you manage it? can you reverse it? So today we're going to be talking about some of these and exploring the science of diabetes reversal so if you have diabetes or some of your family members have it, I hope this video is useful for you.

Yes, so without any further ado, let's get started. The first myth and this is one of the most common ones that we get asked all the time is - "Diabetics should avoid fruits" there is a myth and then there is a lot of misinformation around this many of us, many of them feel that you know if you have diabetes eating fruits will result in a blood sugar spike because of the sugar in the fruit itself so many of the diabetics including people I know in my own family have completely avoided fruits for years after diagnosis. Even people who like eating fruits and want to eat fruits are so afraid to eat fruits because they're so afraid that their diabetes is going to worsen. Now what is what are the facts? What does the science say about eating fruits when you're diabetic?

Sure, you can imagine why this would be something that seems logical right? because fruits are sweet, anything sweet has sugar, diabetics have high sugar so don't eat fruits. The problem is, it's not just the sweetness that the fruits have they have a lot of other nutrition in them that's what makes the difference. So if you like if you need a spoon of sugar, yes your sugar levels might spike up. If you eat gulab jamun, or mysore pak or sweet, then if it's made from sugar or made with even with jaggery or even with honey, your sugar levels might spike up. But with fruits, that's not the case in fact when you eat fruits your sugar levels don't spike up as much as - even say eating white rice - because of the fiber content of fruits, because of the fructose content of fruits, and because of so many phytonutrients that are there in fruits that protect your body from the negative effects of any glucose that it contains. So when scientists researched this, they studied diabetics and they told half of them you know you eat maximum two fruits in a day or two pieces of fruit in a day, don't eat more than that and to the other half they said you eat minimum at least two pieces of fruit then you can eat as much as you like. They found that there's actually no difference in the people who avoided fruits - they don't have any better sugar levels than the people who didn't avoid fruits. So a lot of research studies like this have found that we should not be restricting fruits if you're diabetic and you should be consuming them and especially because of all of the other nutrition that the fruits have, which give you a protective benefit from so many other diseases, which are complications related to diabetes.

So, you know if you're diabetic, and you've been avoiding fruit, when you reintroduce it to your diet do it slowly. Do it step by step. It's the same thing as eating let's say if you're eating raagi or if you're eating a chapati or brown rice right those contain starch as well but all of them are healthy because they are whole plant foods. So the same way same way as eating brown rice introduce fruits also into your meals. We recommend starting your meal with fruits, so when you start your meal eat one fruit and then just continue with the rest of your meal see what happens test your sugar levels and find out you know what is the effect of this on your sugar levels. A majority of people who have signed up for our nutrition science master class and who take our Sampoorna Ahara meals find that the sugar levels actually start reducing when they do this. Our every Sampoorna Ahara meal that's meant for a diabetes diet for diabetes prevention and potentially reversing it, has one cup of fruits in it. There's a box of fruits, there's a box of vegetable salad, and then there are all the other meal dishes whether it's roti or rice or idli dosa with your sambar chutney or dal or palyas or sabji. All those dishes come second, the fruits and vegetable dishes come first. So you know feel free to try this out at home or you can subscribe to a meal from Sampoorna Ahara and practically experience it, but make sure to test your sugar levels and if you have any questions about this consult with your doctor or with your nutritionist before making these changes. I hope that helps you to bust that myth. Now let's move on to second myth of diabetes.

So, the second myth is "Diabetics should avoid carbs" now this is something that has low-carb diets have become very prevalent in today's world. Not only with people among people who have diabetes but also the general population, everyone is recommended to cut carbs to go low on carbs and we know that research has indicated that this may not be healthy for us. What about diabetics? Is there merit in saying that diabetics should avoid carbs completely? or should cut them down to you know below a certain amount every day? So what is the science behind that.

Sure, so this is the problem with the reductionist approach to nutrition. Like Dr. Colin Campbell says in his China Study and on his e-Cornell Plant-based Nutrition Course, when you have a reductionist approach that paradigm of nutrition makes you lose out on a lot of the bigger picture. So, when you talk about carbs, you know even strawberries have carbs, blueberries have carbs, acai berry has carbs, brown rice, raagi, red rice, black rice, millets, whole wheat, oats all of these have carbs in it. Even Isabgol, which is psyllium husk, that fiber - that's a carbohydrate. And when you want to cut out all carbs from your diet, that's fruits, grains, and even many dals - pulses and legumes going out of your diet. That's you know now it sounds like something huge! But when you think of carbs as just the granulated white sugar then it sounds like a good idea (to cut out) right. The reason for this confusion is because all these foods when you categorize them together as carbs - that's the problem that doesn't really work. Instead if you look at the whole food, you look at the whole package, then you have a much deeper understanding of nutrition it's not just the carbs but everything that's included in that food. It's whole grains, it's fruits, it's vegetables, it's dals, it's a food based approach rather than a reductionist nutrition based approach. So that holistic approach gives you a much better solution and researchers also found that yes, when you cut out sugar from your diet and any sugar or carbohydrate containing foods, yes, your blood sugar level will go down. It's natural, if you're not eating glucose it's not there in the bloodstream right so when you take a blood test your sugar level is going to be normal or low but the problem is that's only a symptom of diabetes so your problem is not solved. The problem is still there you know, so the root cause of diabetes which is insulin resistance actually gets worse when you go on a low carbohydrate diet especially if it contains animal products in it. So not just the diabetes itself, but even your risk of atherosclerosis and an earlier death - all of those risks also increase - when you go on a low carbohydrate diet based on animal foods or ketogenic diet especially if it's based on animal foods. So rather than going on a low carbohydrate diet researchers found that when you adopt a whole food plant-based diet including carbohydrates and all of the other fantastic nutrients it has like phytonutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, you know in its whole packaged form the way it grows in nature then that gives you much better results.

Over time your sugar levels come down and not just that, your insulin resistance actually reduces. Even your, so your pancreatic function the number of beta cells that produce insulin only when those cells start dying and the number of remaining cells reduces below 50 percent that's usually when time it is first diagnosed. So that first blood test when your sugar level is high that means half your beta cells may already be dead, right, but when you adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle within two years your pancreatic function can return almost back to maximum levels which is fantastic something that we thought was impossible but it was made possible with a healthy enough lifestyle. So Diabetics should avoid carbs is a myth diabetics should avoid unhealthy food sources of carbohydrates is true but you know and also it's true that you need to avoid unhealthy sources of any foods not just carbohydrates. So, when you shift your lens from nutrient-centric to a holistic food-centric perspective, that gives you a lot of clarity here.

Wonderful, I think that's how the diabetes diet at Sampoorna Ahara is designed right? So, it is designed with all of these various food groups that are necessary for great health to help you potentially even reverse diabetes so you can check it out on our website, SampoornaAhara.com, where you can subscribe to meals that will be delivered to your doorstep every day, that are diabetic-friendly and have all the elements of a healthy diet that Dr. Achyuthan just spoke about. And can you give us, do you have people who with diabetes who are taking meals from us at Sampoorna Ahara?

Absolutely! so we had last week one call from a person who has diabetes for over 10 years their sugar levels was consistently about 170 after food, but they eat one meal from Sampoorna Ahara, with a single meal their post prandial sugar - the sugar level after food - was just 140 milligrams per deciliter. 140 is the upper end of normal and he was so happy, so surprised by it, he actually called us and said "hey, my sugar level has reduced in just one meal, that's fantastic! I'm going to continue eating like this for a long long time" especially you know the reason we started this - the diabetic diet delivery - is because we wanted to make it easy for people to reverse diabetes. It shouldn't be so hard.
When you have when you need treatment for an infection or an emergency or an accident all you need to do is get to a hospital and they will take care of you completely right? But when you want to prevent diabetes, it feels like it's so difficult to do it, that shouldn't be the case. We wanted to make it easier to prevent disease to reverse disease wherever it's possible and to achieve an optimal health that's why we created the diabetes diet that helps you to bring your sugar levels down, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance, improve pancreatic function, potentially even reverse diabetes. There have been some people who have even been able to stop their diabetes medications after shifting to a Sampoorna Ahara diet. That's fantastic, almost unbelievable each time it happens, but those are the happiest stories that inspire us to keep going in our journey.

Amazing! so moving on to the last myth of today - "Diabetes is an age-related disease". This is something that is a very strongly held belief among a lot of people especially Indians. It's a little surprising also because today we are seeing younger and younger people developing type 2 diabetes. So, you know we've had we have we have people in their 20s people in their 30s non-smokers who are developing diabetes. People who are even within their weight range who are developing diabetes. So, where does this myth come from that diabetes is an ease-related disease? and what is the fact?

Sure. So you think of, like I get patients who say doctor my parents have diabetes it's only a matter of time until I also develop it is there something I can do to prevent that? I don't want to get diabetes and I tell them "look if your entire family is diabetic your parents your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins even if all of them have type 2 diabetes, it's still not 100 certainty that you're going to develop it because diabetes is not a genetic disease. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease." The name itself gives it away a lifestyle disease is one that comes because of an unhealthy lifestyle. So if you change that, if you remove the root cause for diabetes, then the body has the fantastic ability to heal itself, the body can reverse many of its health issues to a significant extent and sometimes even completely, and if you don't yet have diabetes you can actually prevent it. Diabetes is not hard encoded in your genes, diabetes is kind of suggested by your genes when you go on an unhealthy lifestyle, then it starts playing up but even if you do have the genes that predispose you to diabetes as long as you're living a healthy lifestyle you need not develop it and you may not develop it as well. So diabetes is not a you know a death sentence it's not a sure fire "I'm definitely going to get diabetic when I grow older" and we can't use that excuse anymore because we now know that diabetes whether we develop it or not is mostly within our control, it's in our hands, we can decide whether we fall sick or stay healthy and that decision is happening next when you eat your next meal. What you eat for your lunch, dinner, breakfast, your snacks what you eat every day may be the most important decision that decides whether or not you develop diabetes and maybe even whether or not you reverse it if you already have it.

Wonderful! I think you know there's there's just so much information that you've given in this video which are busting all these myths and it's it's the need of the hour, given that diabetes is a growing concern in India and you know reports suggest that over half of all Indians may have diabetes at some point in their lives which is quite alarming. All of us should be informed of what diabetes is, why we get it, and what we can do about it, especially given that we can actually do something about it, it's not as if, you know it's completely out of our hands as well. Head over to SampoornaAhara.com if you or someone you know is diabetic and you are looking to manage it in an effective way our meals our diabetic meals are designed to help you achieve a balanced nutrition - making sure that you're having all food groups. Making sure that you're having every single macro and micronutrient that you need while also optimizing for potentially helping you reverse diabetes as well. It's the same with other lifestyle diseases like hypertension and obesity, we have meals for that as well. If you are someone who's watching this video and saying okay I don't have diabetes but I have a family history of diabetes but I want to prevent it, we have a balanced meals that will help you prevent and reduce your risk of many of these lifestyle diseases so head over to Sampoorna Ahara and have at our meals, we have several options for you to choose from and we also have special meals almost every Sunday and for festive occasions just to spice things up a little bit.

Yes, I hope that these resources help you, if you're someone who wants to learn more about how to prevent, manage, and potentially even reverse diabetes you can head over to nutritionscience.in we have courses that will help you understand the role of nutrition in lifestyle diseases like diabetes we have a free course with over 200 whole food plant-based recipes, in our plant-based diet kickstart so you can have a look at it you can sign up for it, it's free, you can try out these recipes at home and start the process of getting healthier right from the comfort of your home.
We also have the Plant Based Diet Masterclass which is an intensive program where you learn the root causes of these lifestyle diseases and be a part of our community, so you know we will help you reach your health goals one step at a time so you can look at that as well.

If any of you are diabetic we strongly suggest that you work with a lifestyle physician and make changes under their guidance. Dr. Achyuthan is available for consultations you can book it online on SampoornaAhara.com as well and you know we can look he can look at your individual records, individual case history, and guide you effectively.

We do not recommend that you start or stop any medication without the guidance of your physician and please note that anything that we've said in this video is not substitute for medical advice by your physician. So yes, I think with that we come to the end of today's video. Thank you so much everyone for joining us and listening to us, if you have any other myths that you've heard or if you're not sure if something that you've heard is a myth or a fact, please leave it in the comments and we'll be happy to answer it or maybe even make a part two of this video with more myths out there. Thank you so much for answering these questions and for clarifying what the actual facts are when it comes to diabetes.

Yes, I think with that we will say goodbye and we will see you in our next video.

Thanks again for joining us, Be Blessed

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