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Debunking 10 diabetes myths

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

-  /  Sat, June 2, 2018  /  08:12 pm
Debunking 10 diabetes myths

Having accurate information on diabetes will help people understand and manage the disease. (

Diabetes can cause serious complications and is one of the leading causes of death in adults.

Diabetes could even double the risk of a heart attack, said Iman Asikin, acting director of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases at the Health Ministry.

"The disease is also the main cause of blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and other long-term effects that lower the quality of life," Iman said on Monday as quoted by

Iman straightens out some of the common myths surrounding diabetes in the report and lays out the facts for better public awareness about the disease and managing it.

Read also: Cut your risk of diabetes through these lifestyle changes

Myth 1: People with diabetes need to follow a special diet.

Iman disagrees with the idea that people with diabetes require a special diet, saying instead that a healthy diet is beneficial for everyone, including those with diabetes. A healthy diet comprises nuts and pulses, vegetables and fruits, and incorporates limiting or avoiding fats and processed carbohydrates, especially processed sugar.

Myth 2: Diabetes-friendly and sugar-free food is good for you.

The health official says that no foods are completely free of sugar, as all foods contain a certain amount of sugar, such as in the form of carbohydrates. Thus, there is no such thing as a 100% sugar-free food.

Myth 3: People with diabetes cannot donate blood.

People with diabetes can still donate blood, as long as they keep their sugar levels under control. 

Myth 4: Women with diabetes should not get pregnant.

The fact is that by keeping blood sugar levels under control, women with diabetes can still get pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby. 

Myth 5: Diabetes in pregnant women will disappear after giving birth.

About 50 to 70 percent of women with gestational diabetes, a form of high blood sugar that affects pregnant women, stand the risk of developing diabetes type 2 within five to 10 years after giving birth. Without treatment, their child will also have a risk of developing diabetes type 2 in adulthood.

Myth 6: Use of insulin during pregnancy has a negative impact on the fetus.

Insulin does not have a negative impact on the fetus. In fact, it is high blood sugar levels that could have a negative impact on fetal development. Only a slight amount of injected insulin can penetrate the placenta, unlike an oral tablet, so it is safe to use insulin injections to control blood sugar levels during pregnancy. 

Myth 7: Diabetic people can eat wheat, but cannot eat rice.

Wheat and rice both contain carbohydrates and have a similar glycemic index, which means they both increase blood sugar levels in a similar way. People with diabetes should therefore consume wheat and rice in limited amounts. 

Myth 8: People with diabetes cannot eat candy or chocolate. 

With a healthy diet and regular exercise, people with diabetes can eat candy, ice cream, cake and other confectionaries, but only in limited amounts and frequencies, such as during special occasions. 

Myth 9: Diabetic people cannot eat pasta, breads, potatoes or noodles.

Starch is a kind of flour that, among other things, functions as a natural preservative. Breads, noodles and pasta usually contain starch, as do potatoes. People with diabetes can consume them, but only in small amounts. 

Myth 10: People with diabetes cannot exercise too much, because it can reduce blood sugar levels excessively.

This is incorrect. People who take insulin must exercise in a balanced and regular way. People with type 2 diabetes who are not dependent on insulin but still take regular medication, will not experience a sudden drop in sugar levels from exercising. In fact, regular exercise is important in controlling diabetes, as is maintaining normal bodyweight. (liz/asw)

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