does sugar cause diabetes
Nutrition
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Relation Between Sugar Consumption & Diabetes

Be it candies or cakes, chocolates or sugary drinks, people love consuming food and beverages high in sugar. But does eating sugar cause diabetes? It is a question most are interested to find out. If you’re a sugar lover and want to know more about whether eating sugar causes diabetes or not, this article is for you. Make sure you definitely read till the end to get all your sugar diabetes-related queries solved.

Sugar and Diabetes

As diabetes is a condition characterized by elevated concentrations of blood sugar, many people ask if eating sugar may trigger it. Although eating huge amounts of sugar could increase the risk of developing diabetes, sugar consumption is only one component of the puzzle. Numerous other factors -- such as lifestyle, diet, and genetics, affect your risk. Know about diabetes treatment.

How does sugar affect diabetes?

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to regulate glucose levels. Usually, type 1 is a result of autoimmune damage caused to the immune system which makes your body incapable of producing insulin which causes the inability to reduce sugar levels in your body. Likewise, in type 2 your body does produce insulin but the quantity produced is not optimum or the body is not able to efficiently use the insulin produced. 

If you have diabetes then intake of sugar should be your enemy as sugars and refined carbs are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and result in elevated blood sugar levels. Being a diabetic your blood has high glucose levels due to its inefficiency to transport it to the cells. Having diabetes if you fail to manage your sugar intake you become prone to severe complications that might even result in death.

What is Diabetes and Its Causes?

It is a condition wherein the body's ability to control your blood sugar level is diminished. It could occur when the pancreas stops making enough insulin, and your cells develop intolerance toward the produced insulin. Insulin is the primary hormone used for sugar absorption from your bloodstream into your cells in the form of energy. 

Blood sugar levels that are high for a prolonged period could cause complications, such as the increased risk of developing heart disease, kidney and nerve damage; therefore, it is essential to ensure they are in good order.

There are prime forms of diabetes, each having distinct causes:

Type 1: Occurs as your immune system attacks your pancreas, which destroys its ability to make insulin.

Type 2: Occurs when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels.

Type 1 sugar diabetes is rare, primarily genetic, and is only responsible for 5-10 % of all cases of diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is responsible for greater than 90% of all diabetes cases and is usually triggered by lifestyle and diet

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Does Eating Sugar Cause Diabetes?

 No, type 1 diabetes is not caused due to consumption of sugar or lifestyle changes. However, the consumption of sugar can be a reason for type 2 diabetes. As per studies, those who consume sugary beverages and foods that contain too much sugar have a 25 % chance of developing type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, type 1 is caused due to an autoimmune disorder where the body destroys insulin-producing cells. Added to that studies reveal that countries with high sugar intake have more type 2 diabetics as compared to a country with low sugar intake. 

Although, it is not established that sugar intake causes diabetes but there exists a strong link. The effect that fructose compound has on the liver increases the risk of developing diabetes due to sugar intake. These effects include increased inflammation, fatty liver, and localized insulin resistance which make you prone to type 2 diabetes. Weight gain due to increased sugar consumption leads to an increase in body fats and eventually type 2 diabetes. Studies also reveal that the consumption of excess sugar disrupts the signaling process of leptin, which is responsible for feeling full. This disruption can lead to overeating and weight gain. 

To avoid such disorders, it is suggested that not more than 10 % of your calories should be derived from sugar. Read more about diabetes causes.

Also read about benefits of dates for diabetes

Where sugar is found in your diet

You may not be aware but a lot of food items that you consume daily like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are a source of natural and processed sugar. You may also be adding sugar directly to your recipes and food-processing units add it to various foods and beverages. Such sugars are known as free sugars which are present in fruit juices, smoothies, honey, etc. Usually, free sugar become the topic of concern when we are discussing diabetes. These sugars include white sugar that we include in our drinks and cereals, caster sugar which is used for baking, sugar used in instant meals, sauces, cakes, fruit juices, smoothies and honey, syrups, etc. Sugar and diabetes are highly interlinked therefore having correct information about sugar becomes essential for a diabetic to manage diabetes.

Sugar Intake Recommendations

Now that your ‘does eating sugar cause diabetes’ question got answered, it’s time to check the daily recommended sugar consumption. The body requires glucose for Knowing how much sugar to intake will make you less prone to developing diabetes and for diabetics, it will help manage their blood sugar levels better. However, the ideal quantity of sugar must be consumed as our body requires glucose for energy. Sugar is present in most food items therefore, you shouldn’t be adding it further to your food items. Here are certain points to remember for optimum sugar consumption. 

Strictly avoid candies, sweetened beverages, processed foods, etc. 

Restrict all kinds of sugar including fructose corn syrup. 

You can prevent excessive sugar consumption by consuming only 10 % of your daily calories from sugar

Follow the recommended sugar intake particularly stated for men and women individually.

|--------------------|-----------------------|-----------|---------------| | Men                | 9 teaspoons or below  | 36 grams  | 150 calories  | | Women              | 6 teaspoons or below  | 25 grams  | 100 calories  |

Other Sugar-related Health Risks

While the relationship between diabetes and sugar isn't apparent, the relationship between sugar and health issues is undoubtedly clear. People who got more than 25 % energy intake from sugar are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who eat less than 10 % of their daily calories. Diabetes can increase the chance of CVD, and so those with the condition need to be aware of their sugar consumption.

Other dangers that are associated with eating excessive sugar are:

  • liver disease, which includes non-alcoholic fat liver disease
  • cancer
  • hormone changes
  • high cholesterol
  • Weight increase and weight gain and
  • chronic illnesses, including polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • persistent swelling and the immune system's dysfunction
  • tooth decay

Do Artificial Sweeteners Increase Diabetes Risk?

Artificial sweeteners are human-made and serve the purpose of adding sweetness to foods without contributing to calories. Although spiked blood sugar levels are not linked to artificial sugars, some reports show a link between the development of insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) and the intake of artificial sweeteners. However, the prime reason behind this is still being researched and there are several theories explaining it.  

Some theories suggest that consuming artificial sweeteners creates sugar cravings that result in the consumption of more sugary foods, weight gain, and eventually diabetes. Yet another theory explains that consuming artificial sweeteners affects your body’s capability to compensate for calories derived from sugar as the brain links sweetness with zero calories. There are many such different theories to prove the point and the accurate theory behind this condition is yet to be discovered by researchers. Also know about sugar free biscuits.

How to cut down on sugar

It is irrational to eliminate sugar from your diet. As it is found naturally in fruits, and vegetables that also have essential vitamins and nutrients needed by our body, therefore, these should be a part of your diet. Although be sure that you consume whole fruits and vegetables instead of juices and smoothies as the fiber content reduces and the only thing left to consume is certain vitamins and sugar. For managing diabetes, you need to eliminate the free sugar that is present in processed foods. Here are a few tips that will help you to do so. 

 

  • Switch to healthy snacking options such as nuts, protein bars, etc. instead of munching on chocolates, biscuits, etc. 

 

 

  • Reduce the intake of sugary drinks and go for diet drinks that have no added sugars. You can also consume flavored water like mint and lemon water. 

  • Read food labels so that you buy and consume only foods that have reduced fats.

How Sugar Is Metabolized

Sucrose or table sugar which is commonly known as sugar is derived from sugarcane or sugar beets and is a combination of one molecule of fructose and glucose each. On consumption of sugar, these molecules get separated by enzymes present in our small intestine before they can be absorbed into our bloodstream. This results in an increase in blood sugar levels which is a signal for the pancreas to release insulin. The hormone insulin commutes the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be metabolized and used as energy. A major amount of fructose is transported to the liver where it gets transformed into glucose for energy or is stored as fat. A small amount of fructose is also used by cells as energy. 

On overconsuming sugar than what is needed by your body to produce energy, the extra sugar is stored as body fats. These high levels of sugar get converted into fat and result in elevated triglyceride levels which makes you prone to heart and liver diseases. Added to that, high fructose levels will spike the uric acid levels in the body and if this acid settles in your joints you might have to go through the pain of gout.

Alternatives to Sugar

If you're thinking of adding some sweetness to your favorite drinks or foods, you might want to think carefully about the sweetener that you are using. If you’re wondering is jaggery good for diabetes, is palm sugar good for diabetes or is coconut sugar good for diabetes, we’ve got the answers. 

The majority of Americans consume a lot of added sugar in the form of refined sweeteners such as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These sweeteners are frequently added to drinks with sweetened drinks, sugary cereals, sweet snacks, and even desserts. Although sweets can be delicious, overeating sugar can have hurt your overall health.

For instance, diets high in sugar added are associated with medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, overweight, and fatty liver disease. Hence to help you cut down on refined sugar, we’ve listed the best alternative to sugar below:

  • Stevia
  • Dates
  • Honey
  • Sugar Alcohols
  • Apple Sauce & Other Fruit Purees
  • Maple Syrup
  • Allulose
  • Molasses
  • Yacon Syrup
  • Monk Fruit Sweetener

Fruit juice & natural sweeteners

As per research, there exists a link between consuming fruit juice and getting diagnosed with sugar diabetes. This happens as fruit juice is high in sugar and low in fiber content. Similarly, natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, etc. are comparatively less processed as compared to table sugar but they are still sources of sugar, and their fiber content is negligible. Other natural such as coconut sugar, agave syrup, etc. should also be considered as sugar and be consumed wisely. These should contribute less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. Also know about sugar treatment.

Reading food labels

An optimum way to monitor your sugar intake is to read food labels. The food labels are informative to know the total sugar content of that food but do not reveal whether the sugars used are natural or processed. Added to that, certain food items do not have the sugar content printed on its label, instead, you will notice other names printed such as honey, glucose syrup, fructose, dextrose, maize syrup, etc. on it but you must know that these are sugar sources. 

Remember that brands print those ingredients first that are used more in quantity. So if you see that the sugar content is among the first few things printed on the food label then it is implied that that particular food item has a high proportion of sugar in it so you must avoid it. Also know more about diabetes diet chart.

Bottomline

Is invert sugar good for diabetes? Can I have sugary sodas regularly? If you had similar questions in mind, they probably got answered by now. As you may have heard, anything in excess is bad, and the same goes for consuming sugar. If you love consuming sugar, make sure you consume it within the range mentioned in this article to stay healthier and safer from diabetes.

FAQs

Can you get diabetes from sugary foods?

Though sugar is indirectly responsible for diabetes, it is not the only reason behind the lifestyle disorder. Moreover, sugar consumption within the permissible limit doesn’t account for diabetes risk.

Is palm sugar good for diabetics?

Palm sugar has a low GCI, meaning it’s less likely to cause a blood sugar spike. Although research is going on, some studies suggest it is suitable as a sugar alternative. 

Is coconut sugar good for diabetics?

The glycemic index in coconut does not rise beyond 35, meaning it doesn’t cause the blood sugar to spike and crash. So people with diabetes can have coconut sugar.

Which foods cause diabetes?

Food is not the primary reason behind having diabetes, many other factors like lifestyle, genetics, etc. play a huge role in increasing the risk of a person getting diagnosed with diabetes. Although having foods that have excessive sugar content makes you prone to diabetes. Foods like sugary beverages, sweeteners like sugar, maple syrup, processed food like chips, biscuits, instant meals, trans fat food like fried items, dairy items, etc. can make the person taking these at a higher risk to get diabetes. In short, food that is high in carbohydrates can cause diabetes.

Why does sugar cause diabetes?

Having an ample amount of sugar daily increases your risk of getting diabetes. As per the studies, too much sugar intake makes a person prone to type 2 diabetes. The fructose compound present in sugar has bad effects on your liver like inflammation, insulin resistance, etc. These effects hamper the production of insulin as they tend to make the pancreas non-functional which increases your risk of having type 2 diabetes. Sugar also increases your body weight and fat levels which can again cause diabetes.

How much sugar causes diabetes?

Diabetes doesn't need to be caused entirely due to sugar. Type 1 diabetes is caused due to many reasons. Having some amount of sugar won’t affect your health to a larger extent but if your sugar level is beyond 600 milligrams per deciliter then you are ought to be diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Luckily, if your sugar levels are controlled then you can have up to 25g of sugar daily.

Can natural sugar give you diabetes?

Not all-natural sugar leads to diabetes. However, for instance, natural sugars like agave do have a low glycemic index which means they will not spike blood sugar levels extremely as compared to table sugar but it has more calories than table sugar due to its high fructose content which can eventually increase the risk of developing diabetes. 

Does sugar cause type 2 diabetes?

Yes, studies reveal that people who consume excessive sugar are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consumption of sugar leads to weight gain and increases body fats which eventually leads to type 2 diabetes. To reduce the risk of developing diabetes, sugar should be consumed in a quantity that only adds up to 10 percent of the total daily calorie intake.

Can sugar from fruit cause diabetes?

Fruits contain natural sugar but this does not mean that you should eliminate them as they are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. To reduce the risk of diabetes, consume fruits that are low in glycemic index and high in fiber content. Added to that, it is recommended to eat whole fruits rather than fruit juices.

References

  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-sugar-cause-diabetes#artificial-sweeteners

Disclaimer

This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.