Over the past little while I’ve been in on some interesting situation with diabetics of both the 1 and 2 type. I had not really thought much about it until these rather dramatic health situations. My parents and siblings have not experienced it and my only direct experience with it is watching an aunt give herself insulin shots. As an adult I look back and laugh at this darling lady who was very game about having kids watch her roll down her stocking and insert the needle while she merrily chatted away.

Yes, we know of families with diabetic children and how difficult daily life can become. And yes, like nearly everyone, I know many people who are “pre-diabetic” or diabetic. Still, I haven’t given it much thought. Other than knowing that weight management, exercise and healthy eating is a huge part of controlling it, until the past few days I was pretty uninformed and unconcerned. Through the years we have been sharing our herbal detox here at Meridian, I’ve had many diabetics report that it has helped with their blood sugar levels, but I still didn’t spend the time to learn much about it. 

In James 1:22 we read: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

I think that applies to more than spiritual life-giving principles of the gospel, but also the life-giving principles of health, especially about a disease that affects 25.8 million of us, and another 7.0 million of us that don’t even know we have it!  The “doing” consists of learning and preventing.

All learning starts with questions: Is it really that serious? What are my own chances of getting it? How did my brother get it? Can I prevent it? Can his be reversed? What are the long-term implications? Will he need to give himself shots like Aunt Ann? What about you? How much do you know, or even need to know?

A Good Place To Start

Thankfully, all the answers for those of us who are ready to be does is readily available at www.diabetes.org. The most important thing at the site for newbies like me is:

1. An entertaining, informative, interactive, and easy to follow video makes it easy to understand diabetes and its complications- “Link for Life – American Diabetes Association.

2. An online test you can take to see if you are at risk: Take the Test Here

What Do You Know About Diabetes? 10 Myths and Facts

There are many myths that make it difficult for people to believe some of the hard facts – such as diabetes is a serious and potentially deadly disease. These myths can create a picture of diabetes that is not accurate and full of stereotypes and stigma.

Myth 1: Diabetes is not a serious disease.

Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Myth 2: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

Myth 3: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.

Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages i.e. soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks energy drinks, other sugary drinks. These will raise blood glucose and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving!

Myth 4: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth 5: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.

Fact: Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan. What is important is the portion size. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. The key is portions. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods per meal is about right. Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.

Myth 6: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.

Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.

Myth 7: You can catch diabetes from someone else.

Fact: No. Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes.Lifestyle factors also play a part.

Myth 8: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

Myth 9: If you have Type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

Fact: For most people, Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.

Myth 10: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.

Fact: Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan.

Like most of us, I have much to learn and much that I can do to prevent it for myself, and after last week, I’m ready to be a “doer” when it comes to diabetes knowledge and prevention. How about you?