Has happen to many of us, you are ready to get your hands into a the candy jar and someone said: "Don't eat that, it will give you Diabetes!
The notion there's a direct link between eating sugar and developing diabetes is a myth.
The reality is that eating too much of any unhealthy food can make you fat, which can cause diabetes. And having a sweet tooth can lead you to overweight and obesity, a key trigger for the most common form of diabetes: type 2. But so can eating too much of many other unhealthy foods, not just those high in sugar.
Diabetes is a disease where there's too much glucose — a type of sugar — in your blood. But just because you have high blood sugar doesn't mean that eating a lot of sugar is what got you there,
However, eating too many sugary foods can lead to weight gain, a key trigger for the most common form of diabetes: type 2. But so can eating too much of many other unhealthy foods, not just those high in sugar but also high in fats.
Body fat and insulin
Overweight can lead to diabetes because extra body fat causes chemical changes in your body. Fat is not only storage tissue, but now we know that it's an active tissue which produces hormones — chemical messengers that influence processes in the body, these hormones produced by fat influence the activity of another hormone, insulin, which controls the uptake of glucose from your blood.
Glucose is the body's main source of energy and it comes from carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice, fruit and milk. Also sweet foods, soda drinks, sugar.
After food is digested, the glucose is released and absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it's transported into cells under the control of insulin, which is released from the pancreas.
As you gain weight, hormones produced by the extra body fat may mean you start to need more insulin to process your blood glucose effectively. Eventually your need for insulin may be so high your pancreas cannot supply enough of it. The result is diabetes.
As we continue absorbing the sugar produce from the food we eat, the body has not been able to reduce the high level of sugar existing in the blood.
This build-up of glucose in the bloodstream eventually damages blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and problems with the kidneys, eyes, feet and nerves.
Diet and diabetes
Of course many foods high in sugar are also high in calories and therefore may make you gain weight. Sugar combined with fat for instance results in "energy dense" foods like biscuits and cakes. And it's easy to overdose on calories drinking high sugar drinks like soft drinks.
A study of more than 90,000 women tracked for eight years by researchers at Harvard University found those who had one or more servings a day of sugar-sweetened soft drink or fruit punch were twice as likely to have developed type 2 diabetes during the study compared with those who rarely had these drinks.
It is easy to gain weight. To gain 2 kg a year, you only have to eat 100 calories a day more than you need. That's about five teaspoons of sugar. So it's not much.
To prevent type 2 diabetes, it's better to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet than focusing specifically on avoiding sugar, also try to be active for 30 to 60 minutes a day — not just to help manage your weight but exercise helps insulin work effectively.
Some more specific dietary measures that help prevent diabetes include:
eating a bit less
eating more fibre
eating less salt
eating less fat, particularly saturated fat
There is also some evidence suggesting eating slowly-digested carbohydrate foods — that is foods with a low glycaemic index or 'low GI' — can reduce your risk. Low GI carbohydrates include wholegrain breads, oats, lentils and beans.