Written by Thomas Rothwell
Tom is a qualified sports nutritionist and mental health first aider.
Myth 1: "A healthy diet can prevent type 2 diabetes"
If you look at the definition of ‘diet’ it’s simply defined as ‘the kinds of food that a person habitually eats’. More recently however, the word ‘diet’ is perceived to be a way of eating or a diet plan that restricts certain foods or food groups with a view to lose weight, whether that’s for body image or for medical reasons.
There is no one perfect diet that completely prevents diabetes. For example, you can have a diet rich in ‘healthy foods’, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and wholegrains, but if these healthy foods are increasing your calorie intake, causing you to gain weight, then your diabetes risk will increase.
When looking at our diabetes risk, it really is multifactorial. Yes, diet is important to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but there are also other risk factors to consider, such as:
- how active or sedentary we are
- the amount of fat we carry around our middles
- sleep quality and quantity
- how stressed we are
- how much alcohol we drink
- our genetics
Thomas Rothwell, physiologist and nutritionist, says:
“Make sure that the calories you’re eating don’t exceed your recommended calorie allowance for the day, and opt for whole unprocessed produce where possible“.
Myth 2: "Diabetes only affects people who are overweight"
For many of us, when we think of someone with type 2 diabetes, we typically picture someone who is overweight, but this isn’t always the case. Overweight people are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but as we’ve seen above, type 2 diabetes is multifactorial. It’s possible, and common, for people who are a healthy weight to develop type 2 diabetes, because they fall under the category of some of the other risk factors, such as having high stress levels, not getting enough sleep and their genetics.
Georgina Camfield, physiologist and nutritionist says:
“If we don’t get enough quality sleep, the hormone which manages blood sugar (insulin) isn’t produced, or is produced but doesn’t work properly - and that’s a problem. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies produce a stress hormone (cortisol), and that can limit insulin production in our bodies, which means our blood sugars aren’t processed properly.”