Many people in the world love sweet foods. They cannot resist when a sugar-laced food is in front of their eyes.
There are fears of different kinds linked to the consumption of sweet foods. One of that fear is the increased risk of diabetes type 2 with an increased intake of sugary foods. How true is this?
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is a medical condition in which the individual is unable to maintain blood sugar within the normal range. His or her sugar levels are above normal range during fasting and/or post-meals.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus. In the first type, the body has low levels of insulin hormone. This hormone pushes glucose into the body cells and controls blood sugar.
When its level is less, the blood sugar shoots up. In this type, fluctuations of blood glucose are wide and it requires insulin injection for control.
In type 2 diabetes, there is insulin insensitivity. The body cells show a diminished response to insulin and hence blood sugar rises.
Eventually, the patient gets side effects of this raised blood sugar in the heart, brain, kidneys, arteries, etc.
Sweet foods and diabetes risk
People who have a family history of diabetes are worried about eating too much sugar. They fear that they too might get diabetes. While this is partly true, it is not the total truth.
Diabetes risk depends on several factors including genes, lifestyle, diet, etc. Obesity increases the risk.
Sugary foods have sucrose in them. Sucrose has one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. In the intestine, sucrose is digested to produce glucose and fructose that are absorbed.
Insulin secretion is stimulated and it pushes glucose into the body cells. Fructose goes to the liver and is converted to glucose for energy production or into fat and deposited in the body.
Therefore with excessive sugar intake, the excess is converted into fats. This adds to body weight and flab. This causes cells to get insulin resistance and diabetes sets in.
Thus, high sugar intake and sweet foods increase blood sugar indirectly over time by increasing obesity and insulin resistance.
Triglycerides in the blood also rise and increase the risk of heart disease and fatty liver.
Studies on this aspect
Various studies have tried to solve this puzzle and the link between high sugar intake and diabetes.
One study showed that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increases the risk of diabetes by 25%. Countries with high sugar consumption have a high number of cases of diabetes.
This risk, in some studies, was still high after controlling for calorie intake, weight, alcohol intake, and exercise. Though it directly does not cause diabetes, the association between high intake of sugars and diabetes is strong. It cannot be ignored.
Some researchers feel that sugars increase diabetes risk both directly and indirectly. Whatever the case, it is best to not consume too much sugar. Keep it in moderate amounts.
WHO recommends that added sugars should not provide more than 10% of daily calorie intake. But natural foods found in foods such as fruits are okay. These are not linked to increased diabetes risk.