Can a Poor Diet Cause Diabetes?

Sugar lumps
Excessive sugar consumption can create insulin resistance, which can lead to type-2 diabetes. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

There are two different types of diabetes: type-1 and type-2. While the exact cause of type-1 diabetes is unknown, research has shown that poor diet and a lack of exercise are key factors in the development of type-2 diabetes. To avoid type-2 diabetes, consume a diet low in fast foods, trans fats, saturated fats, sugars and processed foods.

Type-2 Diabetes

Pensive blond woman drinking water
Excess thist may be a symptom of type-2 diabetes. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

About 95 percent of those affected with diabetes have type-2 diabetes, a slow-developing disease that can occur at any age. People with either type-1 or type-2 diabetes have excess glucose, or blood sugar, in their blood that is not removed by the hormone known as insulin. In type-2 diabetics, an insulin resistance develops, and fat, liver and muscle cells no longer respond correctly to insulin. Symptoms of type-2 diabetes can include fatigue, hunger, increased thirst, blurred vision, erectile dysfunction, increased urination and slower healing. MedlinePlus notes that most people diagnosed with type-2 diabetes are overweight because excess fat makes it more difficult for the body to correctly utilize insulin.

Fast-Food Factor

Young Woman Eating a Delicious Burger
Diets high in fast food put you at risk for type-2 diabetes. (Image: matthewennisphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

Several studies have shown that fast-food consumption can further the development of type-2 diabetes. A 2013 study published in the "European Journal of Nutrition" set out to clarify the role of dietary patterns in the onset of type-2 diabetes in overweight people. The study found that diets high in soft drinks and french fries, and low in fruit and vegetables, were associated with a greater risk of type-2 diabetes in overweight participants, particularly among those who are less physically active. A 2005 study published in "Lancet" concluded that fast-food consumption has a strong positive correlation with weight gain and insulin resistance, implying that fast-food intake may promote obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Watch Your Sugar

Fresh vegetables
Eating a healthy diet full of vegetables can help to reduce your sugar consumption. (Image: mythja/iStock/Getty Images)

A 2013 review published in "Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care" notes that high-sugar diets not only promote weight gain but insulin resistance, which leads to a predisposition for type-2 diabetes. In addition, the review notes that having type-2 diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. The researchers concluded that dietary modifications can greatly reduce the risk of both type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

Quality Matters

Raw salmon steaks
Olive oil and fish are both good sources of healthy fats. (Image: Lilyana Vinogradova/Hemera/Getty Images)

A 2001 study published in "Diabetologia" notes that it may be more important to focus on the quality of the fats and carbohydrates consumed, rather than the amount alone, to prevent type-2 diabetes. High intakes of trans fatty acids, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and other processed foods increase the risk for type-2 diabetes, whereas whole grains, polyunsaturated fats, fiber-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids and other minimally processed foods can lower your risk.

Don't Skip Breakfast

oatmeal with apples
Eat a healthy breakfast. (Image: Dejan Lecic/iStock/Getty Images)

Poor diet can be categorized by more than simply eating unhealthy foods. Breakfast is an important meal that, when missed, can result in health consequences. A 2012 a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that skipping breakfast increased the risk for type-2 diabetes, even after adjusting for body mass index. Snacking between meals was also found to increase type-2 diabetes risk.

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