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Debunking diabetes myths for a healthier Philippines

Debunking diabetes myths for a healthier Philippines

Local hybrid rice company address misconceptions on diabetes to promote a healthy Filipino lifestyle with a goal of a diabetes-resilient Philippines


MANILA, Philippines, 4 August 2022— Filipinos are notoriously known to have a sweet tooth, adding more sugar than necessary to a lot of savory dishes. While people may attribute excessive sugar to the growing cases of diabetes in the country, this is actually one of the most common misconceptions about one of the most serious diseases in the country. Recent data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has shown that 1 in 14 Filipino adults are diagnosed with diabetes due to unhealthy habits such as excessive smoking, alcohol intake, caloric intake, and carbohydrate intake.

SL Agritech Corporation, the pioneer in local hybrid rice production, with Dr. Michael Gan of the Alliance of Clinical Endocrinologists – Philippines, is raising awareness on diabetes by addressing misconceptions and recommending alternatives for a healthier lifestyle. Dr. Gan has led seminars and symposiums amongst his peers and other organizations through the years to help raise awareness on diabetes in the country. Currently, he is an attending physician at Makati Medical Center, and like SL Agritech, he envisions a population that is equipped with accurate knowledge on how to effectively manage or prevent the development of diabetes.

“Diabetes must be taken seriously as this disease has continued to be one of the top ten leading causes of death in the Philippines through the years,” says Michelle Lim-Gankee, Executive Vice President of SL Agritech. “We’ve onboarded the help of Dr. Michael Gan as we are keen to highlight this disease even beyond nutrition month and diabetes awareness week because we believe that we can work towards providing the right solutions for the unserved and underserved communities across the country. As a former president and active member of the Alliance of Clinical Endocrinologists, Dr. Gan has in-depth knowledge with regard to this disease that we believe must be shared with the general public.”

What is right and wrong about diabetes

Dr. Michael Gan shares that a common misconception about diabetes is that it is usually one’s fault for having too much sugar in their diet. While too much sugar is definitely unhealthy, too much carbohydrates brought about by too much sugar is what spikes the blood glucose levels which can cause diabetes. By switching to healthier food alternatives such as brown rice, Filipinos may mitigate the risk of diabetes. A study by the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rice Research Institute shows that brown rice has proven to improve the digestive system and help regulate blood sugar levels due to its low glycemic index (GI) while providing antioxidants, fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and vitamins B1, B3, and B6.

SL Agritech locally produces high-quality brown rice varieties that are distributed in supermarkets here and abroad through Doña Maria and Willy Farms. Their two rice variants are known for being soft, delicious, and easy to cook: Jasponica Brown rice—a variety that combines the aroma of Jasmine and the softness of Japanese rice; Miponica Brown rice—a combination of the Philippine Milagrosa and Japanese rice. By incorporating brown rice into the daily diet of Filipinos, the company hopes to see a decrease in diabetes cases in the years to come.

Another misconception according to Dr. Gan with regard to diabetes is that the disease only applies to overweight individuals as opposed to those who are underweight. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease which means that there is a cluster of conditions such as elevated blood pressure, excess body fat, and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels that lead to this disease. This proves that diabetes can apply to any individual no matter what their weight is. In that case, it is not advised to skip meals altogether but rather, to choose the right dietary options and couple this with proper exercise.

“More than raising awareness, this initiative with SL Agritech allows us to take concrete steps to ensure that Filipinos across the country have access to the right tools that allow them to live a healthier life. While genetics is a factor, remember that proper lifestyle choices still play a more important role in managing diabetes,” Dr. Gan shares.

Understanding nutrition every month of the year

SL Agritech’s push for research and development is not limited to the overall operational process of the company but also to the health benefits the seed and rice products have to offer. From supporting farming communities to ensuring the products are available across the country, the company understands that nutritious food options must be accessible to all in an effort to address the food safety and security issues in the country. The company hopes that the serious issue of nutrition will be addressed for years to come as this also helps boost the economic development of the country.

“SL Agritech believes when we invest in our research and development capabilities, we are also investing in the health and nutrition of the Filipino people. We believe that we must take on the serious role of empowering Filipinos to make healthier lifestyle choices,” concludes Lim-Gankee.

To read more about SL Agritech’s efforts and initiatives, you may visit their website at