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   Sunday, August 02, 2015
  » Diabetes at a Glance
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  » Why Do People of Asian Descent Get Diabetes?
  » The Asian Diabetes Epidemic
  » Common Myths
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Common Myths

I will develop diabetes complications no matter what I do.

False. Having consistently high blood glucose is the most common cause for diabetes complications. Controlling your diabetes can greatly cut down your chance for developing eye, kidney, circulation and other diabetes related problems. A lowering of hemoglobin A1c (a blood test that measures the average blood glucose over the past 3 months) by 1 point can reduce long-term complications by 21%. So what you do matters a great deal!

I will be fine as long as I take the medications my doctor tells me to.

False. Taking medication as prescribed by your health care providers is very important. However, medication is only a part of the overall treatment for diabetes. Equally important is learning about lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, having regular physical activities, monitoring your blood glucose and meeting regularly with your health care providers, are things you can do to improve your health. In fact, according to Dr. William Hsu, Director of the Asian Clinic at Joslin, any individual can always “out-eat” the effect of any diabetic medicine. So making healthy lifestyle changes are as vital as taking medications.

Insulin will make me blind.

False. Some people believe taking insulin is bad for health. It is quite the opposite. Insulin is naturally produced in human body by an organ called pancreas. The body needs insulin for survival. It is the key hormone that lowers blood glucose in healthy individuals. Receiving insulin to control diabetes is safe and effective. Furthermore, insulin does not cause interaction with other drugs and can be given to patients with kidney and liver problems.  After 8-10 years of having type 2 diabetes, the body’s ability to make insulin decreases to a point where taking insulin may become necessary. Insulin used to be prescribed in the later stage of diabetes when eye complications have already occurred. That is why some came to believe it was insulin that leads to the eye problem. “Insulin taken in physiologic (normal) doses does not lead to complications. It is an essential treatment for diabetes” – Dr. George King, Director of Research at Joslin Diabetes Center.

I should follow a low carbohydrate diet because I have diabetes.

False. While low carbohydrate diet has been popular and seems to make sense for someone with a “high sugar”, diabetic patients should not all be on a low carb diet. Carbohydrates are essential nutrients. Vital organs such as the brain need carbohydrates to function well. You may have unique situations where a low carb diet may not be suitable for you. To better control your blood glucose, it is important to learn to eat roughly the same amount of carbohydrates at mealtime. Meet with a registered dietician to learn more about this.

Bitter melon and pumpkins cure my diabetes.

False. It is true that bitter melon and pumpkins are good vegetables and healthy food, but eating them does not cure diabetes. There are many health food commercials promising a cure for diabetes. Unfortunately diabetes is a complex disease that currently has no cure. Some foods such as vegetables that are high in fiber and low in glycemic index may help lowering blood glucose when eaten regularly. But lowering blood glucose is not the same as curing diabetes. When you stop taking the specific food item, more than likely, the higher blood glucose will return. That is the difference between a cure and a treatment.

Shrimp and lobster will raise my cholesterol.

False.  Many people believe that shrimps and lobsters contain high cholesterol content and therefore should be avoided in the diet.  The truth is, the amount of cholesterol in a 3-ounce shrimps (160 mg) and lobster (79 mg) is comparable to that of poultry meats (80 mg).  Thus, a moderate consumption of shrimp and lobster will not raise blood cholesterol.  The more important issue, however, is the method of preparation. Seafood is often prepared with added butter or cheese, which contain large amounts of saturated fats.  High saturated fats will increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and should be limited to less than 7% total calories a day (approximately 14-17 g daily).