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Sugar and Diabetes

For years, people have touted the widely popular theory that sugar can cause diabetes types one and two. While the United States has seen diabetes cases rise dramatically from 1990 through 2010 (cases have tripled), the link between the disease and sugar consumption isn’t valid. The fact is, obesity is one of the biggest causes of diabetes, and sugar can cause unwanted weight gain.

About Diabetes

Types one and two diabetes are medical conditions that have a negative impact on the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels. People with type one diabetes suffer from an autoimmune disease in which the body actively attacks healthy insulin-producing cells. Insulin is a hormone that plays a crucial role in allowing glucose to enter blood cells, thus giving the cells the necessary energy to function.

Those diagnosed with type two diabetes have a more common form of the disease. With type 2 diabetes, sufferers have developed a resistance to insulin, which causes the body not to utilize the hormone enough. Obese individuals need to keep in mind that there is a higher risk for type two diabetes, and should watch their sugar intake.

People with either form of diabetes will have to carefully monitor their sugar intake for the rest of their lives. Because the body will have a much more difficult time managing glucose levels, too much sugar will make the symptoms worse. Furthermore, the body stores excess sugar and can eventually turn into fat. Overweight individuals are more likely to develop diabetes.

Research suggests that fructose, a fruit sugar that serves as a sugar additive found in processed foods, can be more harmful than other sugars. The liver doesn’t regulate the intake of fructose when it absorbs the sugar, causing an increase in fat cells to develop around the organ. The result is a decrease in insulin sensitivity and an increase in blood sugar levels. Low insulin sensitivity limits the ability of cells to remove glucose from the bloodstream, which causes high blood sugar levels.

Insulin Sensitivity

For those who may find insulin sensitivity levels concerning, there are ways to improve insulin sensitivity. High insulin sensitivity means that the body can utilize glucose more efficiently and keep better blood sugar levels.

  • Sleep. Getting a good nights’ sleep may be the best thing someone can do for the body. Poor sleeping habits have a direct link to low insulin sensitivity. Doctors recommend at least eight solid hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
  • Exercise. A good exercise regimen is also a great way to keep insulin sensitivity levels high. The body burns sugar during exercise, thus lowering blood sugar levels. A good amount of exercise also transfers sugars in the body into the muscles for storage.
  • Diet. Insulin sensitivity levels rely heavily on the way that a person eats. Foods with added sugars have proven to increase insulin resistance and raise blood sugar levels. Reducing the intake of carbohydrates also helps improve insulin sensitivity because carbs are converted into sugar by the body. Foods rich in soluble fiber are also great for insulin sensitivity. Drink green tea regularly has also been proven to help.

Diabetes and Alcohol

There have been many questions about diabetics and alcohol consumption. After all, the production of any alcohol requires a certain amount of sugar to react with the yeast. Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, the chemical can either increase or decrease blood sugar levels. Either way, people with diabetes should take extra caution when considering a drink.

Alcohol makes it harder for the liver to function, so it is harder for the organ to regulate how much glucose is in the blood. Alcohol also can alter the way that certain diabetes medications manage blood glucose levels. Drinking alcohol while on certain blood glucose-lowering medications may lead to insulin shock, which leads to a medical emergency. People with diabetes should speak with a healthcare professional before consuming alcohol. If someone with diabetes does decide to have a drink, it is crucial for him or her to check blood sugar levels before doing so.

Regardless of how sugar affects the body, it is still an essential part of a healthy diet. Sugar provides the body with the energy needed to perform everyday functions. The healthiest way to provide the body with sugar is from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables.  As with most things, sugar intake in moderation is good for the body, and does not pose a threat to overall health.

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