Myths: Eating a proper diet is one of the main axes to keep this chronic disease under control, but some widespread myths and errors about the nutrition that people with diabetes should follow are worth reviewing.
If these pauses are followed, it is possible to drastically reduce the complications that can derive from this chronic disease, which significantly improves the quality of life of those who suffer from it.
However, taking care of your diet does not mean that people with diabetes should follow a strict diet or eliminate any specific product from their menus. Instead, they should eat a balanced diet and eat in moderation those products that can raise blood glucose levels.
1. Myths and Truths About Diet in Diabetes
The controversies of diet in this type of patients were discussed, and some myths, errors, and truths were revealed, making an evaluation of the benefits and limitations of superfoods, fasting intermittent or the Mediterranean diet, among others.
One of the professionals who have participated in this Congress, specialist of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service of the University Hospital of Leon, assures that “there are no superfoods” and that no exceptional food or diet “goes to cure diabetes.”
2. No to a Special Diet for Diabetics
There is a belief that it is especially widespread and assumed by the population that people with diabetes should eat a special diet.
“Is undoubtedly a super myth.” The endocrine defends that “there is no single healthy way to eat so you do not have to choose a similar dietary pattern for everyone, but adapt it to the characteristics of each person.”
“Each person with diabetes has peculiarities, present comorbidities, and risks to avoid. And that’s where the personalization of each patient’s diet begins”.
You do not have to choose the same dietary pattern for everyone but adapt it to each person.
This customization is not only on calories but also on the distribution of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, the number of vitamins and minerals, the timing of intakes, etc.
And all these characteristics are not rigid either but must be adapted to life situations, work, leisure, and other circumstances.
For this reason, eating correctly requires learning advised by specialists, flexible, changed, and easily adjusted from day to day.
3. Yes to the Mediterranean Diet
According to experts, adopting the Mediterranean Diet is the best dietary advice for people with diabetes and the rest of the population.
“It is the best adapted to our culture and is associated with a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and degenerative diseases.”
He recommends avoiding sugary soft drinks or ultra-processed foods that are rich in sugars, salt, or saturated fat as much as possible.
4. The False Belief of Superfoods
Periodically, some ‘superfood’ with alleged near-miraculous properties is highlighted. Individually, “in the case of diabetes, the idea is sold that these foods can cure the disease, which is outrageous.”
We should not confuse the term superfood with something that contains a magic remedy.
Some of the so-called ‘superfoods’ promise benefits that, in many cases, are not sufficiently demonstrated. This has been the case with stevia, goji berries, buckwheat, oats.
In any case, about superfoods, the endocrine indicates that “we should not confuse the term superfood with something that contains a magic remedy, but rather they are products that a diabetic should incorporate into their menus due to their high content of nutritional elements that are scarce in other foods.”
Foods that contain calcium, magnesium, fiber, omega 3, vitamins, and pre and probiotics are recommended. Among them are nuts, oily fish, whole grains, tomatoes, or fermented dairy products.
5. The Dairy Myth
Another of the false beliefs that exist related to the diet of diabetics is that they should eliminate dairy from their daily diet.
Dairy intake not only increases the risk of type 2 diabetes but also reduces it.
“Cow’s milk does not cause type 1 diabetes, and it has been shown that dairy intake not only does not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but it reduces it.”
And it is that according to the latest studies, it has been shown that people who consume dairy products regularly are less likely to suffer from diabetes and hypertension and, therefore, to develop associated diseases.
“It is also a myth that we should choose skimmed dairy in people with diabetes because the consumption of the whole dairy can reduce the risk of obesity and even cardiovascular risk.”
6. The Possible Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Many people with diabetes have great difficulties losing weight due to the presence of high plasma insulin levels in the fasting state that prevents lipolysis (mobilization of fats).
Currently, there is new evidence that could support the benefit of so-called intermittent fasting, which is based on caloric restriction.
With this type of fast, there are improvements in weight, lipid profile, and insulin resistance.
At the moment, the studies that have evaluated the effect of intermittent fasting are scarce, “practically all of them find improvements in weight, fat percentage, lipid profile, insulin resistance, and some inflammatory markers; however, the differences are not very significant compared to standard low-calorie diets.”
Therefore, according to the specialist, “it is postulated that a prolonged fast could improve insulin sensitivity and improve metabolic control, weight, and other risk parameters.”
However, any intermittent fasting modality in people with diabetes always requires a therapeutic adjustment advised by a specialist.