1 February 2006

Dispelling Some Myths About … Diabetes

Myth: Sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: There is an absolute consensus that sugar in food does not cause diabetes. Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes) is an auto-immune condition triggered by unknown environmental factors such as viruses. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) is strongly inherited, but lifestyle factors such as a lack of exercise or being overweight increase the risk of developing it. Because diabetes treatment in the past involved strict avoidance of sugar, many people, wrongly, believed that sugar was in some way implicated in the cause of the disease. But while sugar is off the hook, high GI foods are not. Studies at Harvard University indicate that high GI diets that produce high blood glucose levels increase the risk of developing both diabetes and heart disease.

Myth: Sugar is the worst thing for people with diabetes.
Fact: For a long time strict avoidance of sugar was the mainstay of diabetes diets. Health-care professionals were taught that simple sugars were solely responsible for high blood glucose levels. But research shows that moderate consumption of refined sugar (around 40 grams/1½ oz or 2–3 tablespoons) a day doesn’t compromise blood glucose control. This means people with diabetes can choose foods that contain refined sugar or even use small amounts of table sugar.

What should you do? Try to spread your sugar budget over a variety of nutrient-rich foods that sugar makes more palatable. Remember, sugar is concealed in many foods—a can of soft drink contains about 40 grams of sugar—your entire daily allowance! Most foods containing sugar do not raise blood glucose levels any more than most starchy foods. Kelloggs Cocopops™ (GI of 77) contains 39 per cent sugar while Rice Bubbles™ (GI of 87) contains very little sugar. Many foods with large amounts of sugar have GI values close to 60—lower than white bread. Sugar can be a source of enjoyment and help you limit your intake of high fat foods, but the blood glucose response to a food is hard to predict. Use GI tables and your own blood glucose monitoring as a guide.
—Source: The New Glucose Revolution

© ® & ™ The University of Sydney, Australia


Tholzel said...

I disagree that you can say sugar does not cause Type-2 diabetes. Let's look at the issue from another angle--the advent in the past 50 years of Coca-Cola and Krispy-Kream (donut shops), coupled with a significant reduction in the amount of physical labor of the population.
Whether the battering the pancrease takes into adulthood is the actual cause of diabetes is less important than the "fact" that under the a life-time of this new sugar onslaught, the cause (whatever it is) is so often triggered by the sugar-rich environment.

Or, to put it another way, if you could raise a population of kids who did not have daily access to soft-drinks and pastry, would many of these kids develope Type-2?

I'll wager not.

GI Group said...

Hi - this is incorrect. As we mention, there is no scientific data to support that sugar per se causes diabetes. You're observations are anecdotal. Excess fat in the diet leading to overweight and/or obesity is the main problem. There is also strong epidemiological evidence linking lower GI to a reduced risk of diabetes and insulin resistance.

Anonymous said...

My opinion on this matter is that fat not sugar is more responsible for Type-2 diabetes. Because you have too much fat surrounding the cells that uptakes the insulin, your body now cannot receive enough insulin to lower your blood sugar. The necessary quantity of insulun is there but now you have become insulin resistant meaning that the surface of your cells are no longer sensitive enough to take in the insulin to lower your blood sugar. By reducing fat content and therefore making the surface of your cells sensitve to insulin uptake again,your blood sugar levels will decrease.