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Diabetes Myths Just Keep Coming

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This morning as I read the amazing "Doughnuts for Diabetes" story by Jessica Apple over on A Sweet Life, I would have dropped my own donut, had I been eating one. However, having diabetes, I keep my daily sugar and fat consumption low and spread my treats out over the week.

What was amazing about this story was its bedfellows, Krispy Kreme and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Krispy Kreme was sponsoring a run to raise money for the premiere search-for-a-cure type 1 diabetes organization. O.K., I'm sorta with you so far. But then comes the part that amazes: Participants ran a measly mile, then ate a dozen doughnuts and ran the mile back to their starting point.

Apple posts the nutrients in a single glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut, 12 of which amounts to 2,400 calories, 264 grams of carb and 144 grams of fat. If you were a man in the Krispy Kreme Challenge you consumed 2,400 calories and burned about 210!

The organizer of the run, Annette Peery, said in her defense while being interviewed by a local news station, that while a diabetes event centered around doughnuts might seem ironic, that's a misconception because "Type 1 diabetes is not related to obesity and physical inactivity (as opposed to type 2 diabetes). Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder and people have to live on insulin as their life support and we want to find a cure so they no longer have to live on that life support." Wow, so eating a dozen donuts is O.K. 'cause I have to take insulin and I'm not obese. Hmm...

As Apple points out, eating high-sugar, high-fat foods are not just plain unhealthy, it makes it more difficult to manage blood sugar, whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. I would add, that while type 1 diabetes is not characterized by obesity, if you have type 1 and gain weight, you may become like your type 2 brethen, overweight and insulin-resistant, requiring increasing amounts of insulin to manage your diabetes.

After I finished reading the story and closed my mouth, I thought perhaps it time once again to help both those suffering from a high sugar, high fat-fog, and those who may have been confused by Oprah Winfrey's show last month on diabetes and Dr. Oz's fear-based inaccuracies, to debunk a few common diabetes myths. After all, I wrote a book about it, "50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And The 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It."

MYTH #1: I have to follow a "diabetic diet"
TRUTH: There is no longer any such thing as a "diabetic diet." Today, the same dietary guidelines recommended for all Americans are also advised for people with diabetes: Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, healthful fats, and fiber in appropriate portions. Sweets are permissible as long as they're worked into your meal plan, and for weight management, best if used as occasional treats.

MYTH #2: Healthful foods won't raise my blood sugar
TRUTH: Foods that are healthful may also contain a lot of carbohydrates, which raise blood sugar. Carbohydrates have the greatest impact on raising blood sugar and many foods that are considered healthful, such as fruits and fruit juice, potatoes, corn, pasta, grainy breads, and even energy bars, contain high amounts of carbohydrate. Whether you're eating a piece of triple chocolate cake or pineapple slices, your blood sugar level will rise appropriate to the amount of carbohydrates in the food.

MYTH #3: I must lose a lot of weight for my diabetes to improve
TRUTH: Losing between 5 percent and 10 percent of your body weight may decrease insulin resistance, help normalize blood sugars, and lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. It may also lessen medication requirements or eliminate the need for medication altogether, and reduce the risk of short-and long-term complications.

MYTH #4: Type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1
TRUTH: Both types of diabetes are serious because they can cause the same debilitating and life-threatening diabetic complications, including heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, amputation, gastro-paresis, and sexual dysfunction. In both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels over time can damage large and small blood vessels throughout the body, resulting in complications.

MYTH #5: There's nothing good about having diabetes
TRUTH: Many people use diabetes as a wake-up call to change their poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle and become healthier. Many families use diabetes as a wake-up call to engage the whole family in more healthful habits. Many people also find something positive in their diabetes on a spiritual level: diabetes has opened their hearts to the blessings they already had and has prompted them to create an even richer and more satisfying life.

While I appreciate where Ms. Peery's heart was and her contribution to the JDRF, her message likely added to the confusion that abounds about diabetes. And while having diabetes doesn't rule out the occasional doughnut, a dozen isn't healthy for anyone, whether you run one mile or twenty, or have diabetes or not.

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