The diabetes sugar myth
Linking diabetes and sugar intake is seemingly intuitive – after all, diabetes is about blood sugar levels, right?
Unfortunately, diabetes is much more complicated chronic disease that can occur for a variety of reasons. Sugar consumption doesn’t directly cause diabetes, but as we’ll discover, your sugar-consuming habits may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What causes diabetes?
Diabetes is a group of chronic diseases which affect your body’s ability to manage your blood sugar levels.
In a healthy body, the food you eat gets broken down into energy (glucose). This signals your pancreas to produce insulin, which signals your muscle, fat and liver to absorb the glucose, so it can be used for energy.
Type 1 diabetes is a genetic, auto-immune disorder, where your immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Type 2 diabetes can be caused by both genetics and lifestyle. In this case, your muscle, fat and liver have trouble absorbing the glucose, so the body responds by producing even more insulin until the insulin-producing cells are exhausted.
How do my snacks impact my risk of developing diabetes?
In America, over 90% of people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, while in Australia, eliminating obesity from the population could reduce instances of type 2 diabetes by 40%.
Depending on what you’re snacking on, and how often, can lead to being overweight or obese.
In terms of calorie intake, a chocolate bar can have anywhere between 200-300 calories. In contrast, that’s about as many calories as are in three apples. Again, a large cappuccino will have around 130-180 calories, whereas an espresso has 1.
How does sugar make me overweight?
To our bodies, processed sugars are pure energy, meaning it’s high in calories. When we don’t use the energy we consume, it turns into fat, and in turn causes us to become overweight or obese.
Natural sugars from fruit, on the other hand, also hold essential vitamins and nutrients that contribute to good health. If you’re still keen to snack, think about swapping your usual plastic wrapped treat for a fresh, juicy piece of fruit.
Want to find more on mental health?
Health.gov.au - Diabetes
Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council – Obesity and Overweight
Diabetes.org.uk – Myth: Sugar causes diabetes
Obesity.org – Your Weight and Diabetes
Diabetesselfmanagement.com – What Does Insulin Do?
Diabetes Australia – diabetes: the silent pandemic and its impact on Australia
Australian Bureau of Statistics: National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15
Genetics Home Reference – Type 1 diabetes
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