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The Link Between Diet & Diabetes

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
The Link Between Diet & Diabetes
Having type-2 diabetes requires dietary and lifestyle changes. Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

While type-1 diabetes is unrelated to diet, scientists have long discovered a connection between sugar intake and the incidence of type-2 diabetes. When you consume too much added sugar, the pancreas releases large amounts of a hormone called insulin to remove the sugar from your bloodstream. Consuming excess sugar regularly can set off a cascade of metabolic disturbances, including insulin resistance, which eventually can lead to type-2 diabetes.

Sugar Consumption and Type-2 Diabetes

Robert Lustig and his colleagues analyzed repeated cross-sectional data from 175 countries to determine the relationship between sugar intake and diabetes prevalence among different populations. The team found that no other food except sugar yielded a significant association between diet and diabetes prevalence. The researchers discovered that sugar intake influences diabetes risk independent of other risk factors such as obesity, calorie intake and alcohol consumption. The analysis is published in the February 2013 issue of the journal "PLoS One."

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Diabetes

Reducing or eliminating sugary drinks from your diet is the best place to start if you want to lower your diabetes risk. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 contributor of excess sugar in the American diet. University of Boston researchers followed 43,960 African-American women over the course of 10 years to examine the link between sugary drink consumption and diabetes risk. The team found that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption predicted the development of diabetes. Women who consumed two or more sugary drinks per day are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes, according to the study published in the July 2008 issue of the journal "Archives of Internal Medicine."

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