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Can you get diabetes from eating sugar?

Many people believe that sugar causes diabetes. This comes from the fact that the disease manifests itself through an elevated content of sugar in the blood. But sugar has not been established as a cause of diabetes. Like fat, protein and other carbohydrates, sugar provides energy. If you take in more energy than your body expends, over time you may become obese, which is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease. This means that the development of the disease is closely linked to the individual’s overall lifestyle. The biggest risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are being overweight, not exercising enough, genetic factors and age. Type 2 diabetes develops gradually when the body can no longer produce enough insulin and/or has an impaired capacity to react to insulin. Type 1 diabetes develops when the body loses the ability to produce insulin and is thus unrelated to lifestyle. Type 1 diabetes is predominantly genetics, and not preventable.

People used to believe that diabetics could not tolerate even the tiniest bit of sugar. However, dietary advice for people with diabetes has changed over the past few decades. The latest scientific advice in guidelines provided by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes support that a moderate intake of “free sugars” can be part of a healthy balanced diet. Diabetics with satisfactory blood glucose levels can consume up to 50 grams per day of “free sugars”, divided between various meals. For individual dietary advice, people should consult their healthcare professional.

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