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According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) statistics, globally every seven seconds someone is estimated to die from diabetes or its complications. Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to produce enough insulin, resulting in higher blood sugar levels in the body. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. It processes the glucose from food and allows the cells to absorb it which with time uses the processed glucose for energy. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin then the glucose stays in your blood instead of going to the cells. That’s when a person is diagnosed with a high blood sugar level; hence, that condition is called diabetes.

World Health Organization (WHO) marks diabetes as a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar), which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

Each year, World Diabetes Day is celebrated on 14th November.  It has become a globally-celebrated event that spreads the message about diabetes and raises awareness about the condition. People often consider sugar and diabetes to be the same, which is not true. So, here let’s talk about how sugar and diabetes differ, the do’s and don’ts of eating for diabetic people.

What is the difference between sugar and diabetes? Or are they the same?

Sugar and diabetes: Is there a difference?

Photo: Pixabay/ Isuru Prabath

While diabetes is a disease condition, sugar is a composition of the food. Clearly, a disease and a food composition are not the same. Diabetes and sugar are often confused as the same. It is because people use sugar as a colloquial term for diabetes in some parts of Nepal and India. However, they are different terms.

MYTH: Consuming sugar causes diabetes.

FACT: The body’s inability to produce insulin or not producing it enough causes diabetes, rather than sugar consumption. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Thus when insulin is not enough produced, sugar accumulates in our blood and that is how we get the condition “diabetes”.

MYTH: Once diagnosed with diabetes, you shouldn’t consume sugar at all.

FACT: At times, your glucose level may drop to less than the required level that you may fall down and not be able to get up. At that time, your body is in need of sugar. It is advisable to always carry candy or something sweet in your pocket so as to save you from such situations.

Over time, the deposited glucose in your blood can cause serious health problems. Although diabetes has no specific cure, you can adopt several measures to keep your diabetes in check and stay healthy. You have to be always careful of your eating habits, do exercise and follow your diet regime. Especially, diabetic people need to maintain their blood sugar level constantly. Even a rise in a certain level may invite a lot of risks to your health. The following are a few of the things to consider and to completely avoid so as to manage your diabetes.

Sugar and diabetes: Is there a difference?

Photo: Unsplash/Alexander Mils

WHAT TO AVOID?

  1. Do not eat processed grains, such as white rice or white flour, and white bread, French fries and fried white-flour tortillas.
  2. Avoid butter, cheese, regular jam, jelly and any food item that has added sugar, and canned vegetables with lots of added sodium.
  3. You must avoid deep-fried items like meats, tofu and higher-fat cuts of meat, such as ribs.
  4. Avoid regular yogurt, regular cheese, and regular ice-cream.
  5. Avoid table sugar as much as possible.

WHAT TO EAT?

    1. Eat whole grains, such as brown rice, oatmeal, millet, amaranth, and baked sweet potato.
    2. Have lots of fresh green vegetables. You may eat them raw or lightly steamed, roasted or grilled.
    3. Eat fresh fruits or plain frozen/canned ones without added sugar or other preservatives.
    4. Drink flaxseed (Aalash in Nepali) tea, which is known to be one of the best ways to lower down the blood glucose levels. Or you may add the seeds by grinding it and sprinkling it to your daily meal.
    5. Doctors highly recommend aloe vera juice for diabetic patients. You may intake it daily.
    6. Okra or lady’s fingers have a positive effect on the blood sugar levels in the body.
Sugar and diabetes: Is there a difference?

Photo: Pixabay/ Marijana

ALTERNATIVES TO SUGAR

  1. Honey is the perfect sugar substitute which reduces the risk of increased glucose levels. Furthermore, it proves to be beneficial for weight loss as well. A study suggests that adding cinnamon to the raw honey cleans your body system from bad cholesterol. Also mixing raw honey and yogurt and eating them on empty stomach helps the intestines to work better. It helps to produce the right amount of hormones for overall metabolism.
  2. Coconut sugar has the same amount of calories as regular sugar, but it doesn’t lead to fluctuations in blood sugar. It is coarse in nature; hence it is recommended to put in a blender before using it.
  3. Date paste is another easy sugar alternative that can be easily prepared at home. It is sweeter than sugar but doesn’t have the same effect as the latter.
  4. You may use artificial sweeteners like sugar-free tablets. There may be some side-effects, but they do not always occur.

From this, it is quite clear that sugar and diabetes are different terms. Diabetes is a condition that does not has a proper cure but maintaining your blood sugar level is in your hands. If you eat well, maintain your diet and exercise properly, diabetes can not limit you. Take care of your health!

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