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The Myth of the Diabetic Diet

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc.* -
The Myth of the Diabetic Diet

Diabetes, a medical condition in which the body doesn't produce or use enough insulin, has become one of the most serious health problems facing the Hispanic population of the United States and Latin America. Although those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes must use insulin and some with type 2 diabetes require oral medications for better glucose management, proper nutrition and a disciplined exercise program are the key components of diabetes treatment.

For many years, there was a special diet for diabetics that severely restricted foods with a high content of carbohydrates or sugars, such as bread, rice, pasta and root vegetables. This prompted many diabetics to increase their consumption of foods of animal origin, which are rich in fat, to satisfy their energy requirements, many times under medical supervision. As expected, this type of diet brought about even more health complications.

These days it's no secret that diabetics can consume the same amount of carbohydrates as non-diabetics, with the only exception being that diabetics must pay special attention to their consumption of refined sugar. This is not that difficult, given the enormous variety of alternatives available in the marketplace today.

This is why it's feasible for diabetics to adopt a balanced diet, thereby reducing the risk of complications caused by unstable blood sugar levels. Furthermore, many people today are aware of the key role that regular physical activity plays in helping body cells process sugars more efficiently, thus attacking the basic problem of diabetes. This is so true that it's not rare to see how a good exercise program can help type 1 diabetes patients reduce their insulin dosages.

The "diabetic diet" is a thing of the past. The above-listed dietary changes can contribute greatly to improving the quality of life of those affected by one of the most prevalent chronic illnesses of our times.

* Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango, Inc.


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