Type 2 diabetes has long been regarded as a lifestyle disease. Lifestyle diseases, unlike infectious diseases, are ones that are caused by daily habits including poor eating, physical inactivity, and disturbed biological rhythms. These have become a huge concern around the world, not only in the United States. Type 2 diabetes has become a global epidemic and has had a long-standing link to sugar consumption, but it is not that simple. For those professionals who deal with diabetics, type 2 diabetes is a complex disease.
Carbohydrates Are Not Created Equal
Because of diabetes’ long-standing connection with the consumption of sugar, the scientific community has pointed a finger at carbohydrates in general. But all carbohydrates are not created equal. Although both simple and complex carbohydrates are metabolized as sugar, the way that they do so is very different from one another.
Simple carbohydrates are metabolized very quickly causing instability in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates take much longer to go through the digestive system because of its more complex chemical makeup and fiber content.
Simple carbohydrates take the form of processed sugars and are found prolifically in packaged foods and drinks. They are also found in the lactose of milk and the fructose found in fruits. Complex carbohydrates are the ones found in vegetables, whole grain foods, and legumes and contain not only necessary fiber but also vitamins and minerals.
The Standard American Diet and Sugar
The Standard American Diet, with the aptly-named acronym SAD, contains a huge amount of sugars, both simple and complex. This is being seen at an alarming rate throughout modernized countries around the world. Often, what happens is food that contains added sugars also contains fats. When it comes to this combination of components, insulin resistance is a by-product. And this is what leads to type 2
Insulin’s Job in the Body
Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for moving blood sugar to the body’s cells for energy or for storage for later use. In diabetics, cells have become resistant to insulin and, consequently, blood sugar accumulates. It has also been found that risks for diabetes can be linked to family history, not only of diabetes but also obesity, heart disease, and depression. Diabetes is also more prevalent in those who exercise less than three times a week.
Limiting Sugar Intake
Even though sugar is not the only cause of type 2 diabetes today, it is a substantial influence. It is important to limit sugar intake as much as possible while prioritizing good nutrition, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight.
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