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Is eating a lot of sweets the cause of diabetes?

By Anonymous December 29, 2009 - 11:50am
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I've recently put on a lot of weight; which I had lost 19lbs in may; I have regained it. I eat a lot of sweets not bread or pasta. I was going to the gym. i will start back again in Jan. My weight is 224. i am back on my pressure medicaton and cholesterol medication.

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That is an interesting question!

In Type 2 diabetes, eating too much sugar may increase your chances of developing diabetes, but this is when an individual ALSO has other lifestyle-related factors that are attributable to developing diabetes as an adult, including being overweight and being physically inactive. A person is also at risk if they are in specific race/ethnic backgrounds or have a family history of Type 2.

And, as you mentioned, it is not just "sweets" that matter, but also simple carbohydrates in excess, that your body converts to glucose. Please note: your body turns ALL food into glucose...that's how your cells get their energy...and why it is important to chose your foods wisely so that you feel fuller, longer, without needing to overeat. What's perhaps MORE important than eating sweets is the absence of other foods...those high in fiber (fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates), as well as lean protein sources...that can serve as a protective factor against eating too many sweets.

Unfortunately, it is not a simple "yes" or "no" answer, as is the case with most health conditions. Wouldn't it be nice if we could say, "yes...you may be at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes because you are currently not exercising and overweight, but if you just stay away from "sweets", you won't develop diabetes". Unfortunately, all of these lifestyle choices go hand-in-hand in increasing your risk for diabetes (and other lifestyle-related health conditions), so, eating too many sweets, as you can see, does not really "cause" diabetes in and of itself. However, if a person only eats sweets and has other risk factors (which they likely would), then your body can have a difficult time producing enough insulin to "keep up" with the amount of glucose in your body, and then there is a build-up of glucose in your bloodstream. A person can be insulin-resistant and have their body (pancreas) not produce enough insulin and/or their cells are not using the insulin properly.

Lastly, eating too many sweets is worrisome more as a mediating factor than a cause itself, as a person who eats a lot of sweets is likely not eating other nutritious foods, is likely gaining weight from the excess empty calories in sweets, is less motivated to be physically active because they do not have enough long-lasting fuel from food, and then becomes demotivated to eat healthy, and is then may be more prone to eat more sweets...and the cycle continues. And, as mentioned early, it is the excess weight, inactivity, absence of fiber and other healthy foods that, combined, can cause your body to improperly produce/utilize insulin. Then...eating too many sweets puts an added build-up of glucose in your body, that can lead your body to become diabetic (Type 2). Does that make sense?

The key to eating sweets, while also trying to exercise and lose weight, is to find a way to eat them in moderation. I know...easier said than done. But, is it possible to choose a few certain sweet per week? Do you prefer the more decadent/quality sweets once per week, or less decadent and more quantity sweets throughout the week? Can you make sure you fill up on water, healthy foods and exercise first...then see if you can have a small piece of the sweet-of-your-choice afterward? All sweets are not created equal, as some chocolates with high percentage of cacao are healthier for you; some fruits are very sweet by themselves (or, dipped in a little chocolate or whipped cream) such as most berries, mangoes, etc. There are sugar-free candies that taste great, too!

Would you like any more tips on losing weight, eating healthier, or preventing diabetes? We would love to help!

December 29, 2009 - 1:16pm
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