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Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?

Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?

Diabetes is a common health condition that affects nearly 1 in 10 people.

Because diabetes affects how the body uses sugar, many people wonder if eating too much sugar can cause diabetes.

This article answers the popular question — does sugar cause diabetes?

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a health condition that stops the body from using carbs properly. 

There are many different types of diabetes, but the two main types are (1):

  • Type 1 diabetes: an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your pancreas, destroying its ability to make insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Occurs when your pancreas can’t make enough insulin or your body’s cells don’t respond to insulin properly, or both.

When most people talk about diabetes, they refer to type 2 diabetes, which accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases. That’s why this article will focus on type 2 diabetes.

Normally, when you eat carbs, the body breaks them down into glucose — a type of sugar — that enters your bloodstream. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas makes the hormone insulin, which helps move sugar into your cells to be used for energy.

Unfortunately, for people with type 2 diabetes, their body cannot use sugar properly. 

Rather than being used for energy, the sugar will stay in the bloodstream for much longer. If left untreated, high blood sugar levels over a long period of time can increase your risk of heart disease, nerve damage, and eye damage, so it’s important to keep on top of it (2).

Summary Diabetes is a health condition that stops the body from using sugar properly and raises blood sugar levels. If left untreated, it can increase the risk of severe health problems.

Does sugar cause diabetes?

While diabetes affects how your body uses sugar, sugar is not the sole cause of diabetes.

Instead, type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of factors such as (1, 3, 4):

  • Genetics: people with a family history of diabetes are more likely to get it.
  • Bodyweight: carrying too much body fat can increase your risk of diabetes.
  • Exercise: less active people are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Diet: people that eat processed meats, sugary drinks, deep-fried foods, and not enough veggies have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Lifestyle factors: people that smoke, sleep too little, drink alcohol, or are constantly stressed have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Although sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, eating sugary foods too often can raise your diabetes risk because they are high in calories and can quickly pack on the pounds.

Also, eating too much sugar may increase the risk of other health conditions, such as (5, 6):

  • Heart disease.
  • Some cancers.
  • Liver diseases.
  • Tooth decay.

If you eat a lot of sugar, it’s a good idea to cut back for your long-term health and wellbeing.

Summary: Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, but eating sugary foods too often can add to your waistline and increase your diabetes risk in the long run. If you eat sugary foods often, it’s a good idea to cut back for your long-term health and wellbeing.

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Blog written by
Ryan Raman MHSC, RD

 

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