Diabetes misconceptions clarified!

Clear up common mix-ups concerning diabetes

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When it comes to health and wellness, there’s always people telling you what to do, how to eat well or be free from an illness. However, how would you know if it’s a fact or myth? 

The best way is to speak to a healthcare professional. Here, we address some common misconceptions on diabetes as we speak to Medical Consultant from Iswanah Wellness and Klinik Dr. Aziz Al-Safi in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Safi Ismail. 

 

1Twenty80: Is diabetes reversible? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Safi Ismail: To be honest, this is one of my favourite topics to speak about. Yes! Diabetes is definitely reversible.

 

About 10 to 15 years ago, people believed that diabetes was a lifelong disease. However, it is not! Diabetes is a lifestyle disease. Type 2 diabetes can easily be reversed through lifestyle changes such as improving your diet.

 

Quote: Type 2 diabetes can easily be reversed through lifestyle changes such as improving your diet. 

 

1Twenty80: If a parent is diabetic, will their children be diabetic too? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: This is another common misconception that people seem to have about diabetes.

 

When parents have diabetes, about 30 percent of individuals may inherit the disease. For example, if your parents have 10 children, about three of them are at risk of diabetes. Despite that, it isn’t necessary for all three individuals to inherit diabetes. The concept of DNA can be changed. Although you have inherited the disease in your DNA, you’re still able to alter it by changing your way of life through these two factors:

  • Internal factors – A proper diet plan of foods and drinks that you consume. 
  • External factors – Environment plays another role for example the lack of exercise and pollutants can affect your lifestyle.

Every lifestyle change that you make can contribute to modifying your DNA from being diabetic despite having a family history of the disease.

Quote: Every lifestyle change that you make can contribute to modifying your DNA from being diabetic despite having a family history of the disease. 

1Twenty80: Fruits are generally sweet. Can a diabetic enjoy fruits and which are best? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: Diabetics are able to enjoy fruits that are low in glycemic index (GI) levels. Glycemic index refers to figures from zero to 100 assigned to a food that relatively represents the increased level of glucose in the blood after consuming that specific food.

There are fruits that are best to avoid eating because of its high glycemic index. Fruits that you should try to stay away from include watermelon, pineapple, mangoes, bananas, grapes and durians. Some fruits may be sweet like rambutans, but you can still take them because it’s low in glycemic index.

 

1Twenty80: Is it true that a diabetic can stop medical treatment once their blood sugar level is controlled? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: They can stop medication provided that they change their manner of living. Medications only contribute to 20 percent in the management of diabetes, while the remaining 80 percent depends solely on lifestyle changes.

Regular check-ups are a must! Constant blood glucose monitoring should be done every three months to ensure that the blood sugar level sugar is below 6.5 mmol/l.

Individuals should not judge the disease based on symptomatic relief that can indicate that they might no longer have diabetes. Symptoms such as frequent urination, constant feeling of thirst, inflammation or itchiness around genital areas may fade away at times. Despite the fact that they don’t have these symptoms but their blood sugar level is higher than 6.5 mmol/L, then it indicates that their diabetes is not well controlled. 

1Twenty80: Is it also true that with medication, a diabetic can enjoy anything he or she wants to eat?

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: Enjoying food is one thing but not controlling the intake or the type of food that you eat is another issue.

Have a “happy day” once a week where you’re able to give in a little to temptation. Though, at the same time, you’ll need to control the amount of sugary and high-carbohydrate food that you consume. For example, if you’re tempted to drink coconut water, have it without the added sugar.

Too much of everything or anything will not help to control diabetes.

1Twenty80: Can health supplement play a role in controlling diabetes? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: Definitely! Supplements do play a role in diabetes. It is a must to have supplements to help control your blood sugar levels. Having said that, please ensure the supplements you’re consuming are natural and organic as some of the supplements contain more synthetic chemicals than organic ingredients.

1Twenty80: Is there such a thing as a ‘diabetic diet’? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: (Laughs) There is no such thing as ‘diabetic diet’. 

The ideal diet for diabetic patients is to eat foods that will keep them healthy as well as meet the calorie requirements. Consume a lot of fruits and vegetables and cut down on carbohydrates.

1Twenty80: Could you share with us one of two misconceptions on diabetes that you commonly see in your practice? 

Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz: There are plenty of misconceptions that I’ve came across throughout my 30 years of experience. Some of the most common ones are how diseases affect the patients’ way of thinking. Patients have set their mentality in thinking that diabetes is a lifelong disease and medication is the only way to control diabetes. Nonetheless, they fail to understand that type 2 diabetes is basically due to an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Quote: The ideal diet for diabetic patients is to eat foods that will keep them healthy as well as meet the calorie requirements. 

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