Can you get diabetes eating too much sugar? The short answer is NO. People often think that because in diabetes, blood sugar levels are high then it automatically means when you take in a lot of sugar you will get this disease. This is not true.
However, there is more to be discussed from this NO. Sugar does play an indirect role in diabetes causation. The main problem with eating too much sugar is that it can lead to obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for type-2 diabetes. That being said, there is a number of other risk factors that are associated with type-2 diabetes.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a class of carbohydrates called simple carbohydrates. It is a carbohydrate that tastes sweet. Once ingested, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in your body. It is this glucose that is used by the cells of your body to provide energy to the cells. Though it is needed by the body, too much of sugar can increase your risk of several health problems.
There are different types of sugars. Examples of these include glucose, sucrose, fructose, galactose and many more. It is important to note that regardless of the type, these sugars once inside your body are broken down into glucose in order to provide energy to the body.
Sources of sugar
There are two main sources of sugar, namely
This is the sugar that is found naturally in fruits, vegetables and dairy food. Natural sugars are found in food sources that have many other health benefits. An example of this is that fruits are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits, vegetables and dairy products will make you fuller for longer, thanks to the fiber and protein they contain. They keep your metabolism stable. They also provide a steady rise in your blood sugar as opposed to the processed sugars.
Also known as free sugars or added sugars, they are found in syrups, smoothies, baked good, ice cream, energy drinks, honey etc. It is sugar that has been added to the processed foods. It is found in just about anything that has been packaged.
Unfortunately, processed sugars only provide us with the sweet taste that many of us really love. They do not have any other nutritional value to your body. The more we take these foods, the more we crave for them. With excessive intake over a long period, they may increase your risk of having a number of health problems.
Importance of sugar
Sugar has many positive benefits to your body. It has been blamed for so many health problems, but without it your body cannot function properly.
The sweet taste of the sugar adds flavor to your food making them taste better and become more enjoyable.
Sugar proves instant energy to your body. Your body can not function without this energy.
Sugar uplifts your mood. It brightens you. However, too much of it can have a negative impact on your mood.
Your body does store excess glucose for future use. It is stored as glycogen and once it’s needed, your body breaks it back to glucose. This prevents dangerous drops in your blood sugar when you are fasting, when exercising or when sleeping.
Naturally occurring sugars sources come with many added benefits to your body. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that are good for your body. They also have fiber which is digested slowly and provides a steady rise in blood sugar levels. The protein found in dairy products makes you fuller for longer.
Sugar and diabetes: What is the link?
There are several types of diabetes, but the two main types are type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
In type-1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose to enter into your cells. Insulin is produced by an organ called pancreas. The immune system destroys the insulin producing cells in your pancreas. Without insulin, your body can not use glucose and it remains elevated in your blood. This type of diabetes cannot be caused by too much sugar in your diet. The exact cause is not known and there is no known way to prevent it.
Type-2 diabetes however is different. In this type of diabetes, the cells stop responding to the insulin. This results in glucose not being used up by the cells and hence remains elevated in the blood. There are a number of factors that can make your body not to respond to insulin.
Though too much sugar cannot cause type-2 diabetes directly, it does cause weight problems. The more sugar you consume, the higher your chances are to be overweight or obese. Increased body weight is one of the risk factors to developing type-2 diabetes. However, since type-2 diabetes is a complex disease, it has many factors associated with its development. Hence, weight issues are just part of the problem. Some people do have healthy weight and still develop diabetes. This shows the complexity of the disease.
Eating too much sugar when you have diabetes may lead to constantly high blood sugar levels. This will lead to uncontrolled diabetes which is associated to a number of complications. Having diabetes whoever does not mean you have to remove sugar completely from your diet. Balance is the key. Your body does need sugar to function as earlier mentioned. You might need glucose tablets or sugar drinks to manage instances of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
Other harmful effects of too much Sugar
Too much sugar is however associated with many health problems, some of which include the following:
- Increases your risk of being overweight or obese
- Increases your risk of heart disease
- Increase your risk of metabolic syndrome
- May damage your liver
- May cause blood sugar spikes in diabetes
- May decrease the function you’re your immune system
- Causes tooth decay and cavities
- May increase your stress levels leading to increased risk of depression
- May cause skin problems like acne
- Increase your risk of certain cancers
- May cause you to age faster
- May drain your energy
- Is associated with high level of cholesterol
- Is associated with increased levels of Uric Acid
How much is too much?
Sugar is not all bad as long as it is taken in moderation. It can even be overwhelming to try to eliminate sugar on every single thing that you eat. But how much is too much? One may ask. It is generally recommended that men should take less than 36 grams (9 teaspoons or 150 calories) per day, and women less than 25 grams (6 teaspoons or 100) per day.
To avoid over consumption, keep in mind the following:
- Be mindful of the foods you choose to eat
- Avoid processed, packaged foods and drinks such as soda (soda already contains 9 teaspoons of sugar)
- Add more fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Read food labels
- Stick to water and limit drinks
- Choose unsweetened cereals
You don’t have to eliminate sugar completely out of your meals. The key is balance and moderation. Plan you meals. You can have a healthy meal without having to eliminate every single source of sugar.
Naturally occurring sugar has more nutritional value than refined sugar because it comes with added benefits as discussed earlier.
You don’t have to deprive yourself from a piece of chocolate. Instead, have a balance of what you eat and when to eat this.
You cannot completely avoid sugar. In fact, you need it for energy.
However eating too much sugar will not do you any good. It will just add more calories to your meals and come with many other health problems. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
If you have questions or comments, please leave then in the comments section below.