One of the fastest-growing causes of death in the world, diabetes is especially prevalent in the United States as about 1 in every 11 people has been diagnosed with the condition. Medical costs for treating the disease are considerable, with worldwide costs reaching 548 billion dollars in 2013. The U.S. is responsible for around 35 percent of that figure, but despite that robust amount of spending, the numbers of those with diabetes are still rising. Traditional disease prevention and management strategies focus on being active, watching your weight, and eating healthy with a particular emphasis on avoiding sugar and paying attention to the glycemic index. But sugar isn’t the only villain in the diabetes narrative. Here are some of the other kinds of foods that can aggravate and contribute to your diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners don’t provide any actual health benefit. Instead, they serve as a way for people with diabetes to get a sugar fix. There are five artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States: saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, neotame and acesulfame K. While most of these are usually used by and marketed towards those with diabetes or people trying to avoid sugar, there is evidence to suggest that consuming artificial sweeteners, specifically saccharine, disrupts the bacteria in your gut. Gut health is especially important for people with diabetes since changes to the bacteria in the gut have been associated with a disposition towards diabetes. Artificial sweeteners frequently pass through the gastrointestinal tract without being digested, allowing the unaltered particles to wreak havoc directly on intestinal bacteria. If you have sugar cravings, do your gut bacteria a favor and check out healthy sugar alternatives before you reach for the artificial sugar packets.
Fructose & High Fructos Corn Syrup
Fructose occurs naturally in fruits, sugars, bread, and cured meat products. It has also found its way into the majority of pre-packaged foods with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars being routinely added to these products. A small amount of fructose, especially from whole food sources that provide other nutrients and enzymes, in of itself isn’t a bad thing, but problems occur with excessive fructose consumption. Fructose is only processed in the liver. Too much fructose causes insulin resistance in the fatty triglycerides in the membranes surrounding the cells of ourperipheral tissue. The more insulin resistant cells you have, the more likely it is that the levels of insulin in the bloodstream are too high since the insulin has nowhere else to go. This is one of the first steps on the way to diabetes.
Fruit is often seen as the biggest contributor to fructose issues, but fruit in moderation has a multitude of health benefits. It makes more sense to avoid manufactured fructose and eat real food, rather than packages of extra calories with potential health problems. The real problem is high fructose corn syrup. There is a direct correlation between the rise of HFCS use and type 2 diabetes.
Refined and Processed Foods
Refined and processed foods like white rice, most of the commercially available breads, and snack foods contain simple carbohydrates and they have had all of their natural nutrients stripped away. This leaves empty calories and easily digestible sugars, spiking insulin and blood sugar levels. People who consume a steady supply of these foods, rather than whole foods with their nutrients intact like brown rice or steel cut oats, are much more likely to be at risk for type 2 diabetes. Processed foods that contain chemicals to enhance their taste can also trigger inflammation, damage tissue, and cause insulin resistance.
Your Diet is Key to Avoiding and Managing Diabetes
Almost ten percent of the population in the United States has diabetes, and that number is on the rise, with even children and young adults developing the disease at alarming rates. Conventional wisdom touts the importance of diet and exercise as ways to manage the risk of diabetes, but the connection between a society facing a growing diabetes epidemic and a society that offers more packaged and fewer whole food options cannot be ignored. Eating a diet rich in fresh, raw, organic produce (mostly vegetables) and with minimal amounts of unhealthy packaged an artificial foods, can make keep you from joining the ranks of those dealing with diabetes.
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- Artificial Sugars May Cause Diabetes Risk – MedPageToday
- Healthy Sugar Alternatives – Organic Lifestyle Magazine
- Four Food Choices That Greatly Increase Your Diabetes Risk – Healthline
- How Triglycerides Affect Your Risk of Diabetes – Web MD
- 10 Reasons Why Fructose is Bad – Paleo Leap
- Diabetes Latest – CDC