When someone asks you “Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?”, you’re first thought is going to be… yep, definitely!
And so you’ve probably heard these sayings before…
Eat too much sugar, and you’re gonna get diabetes.
Eat too much candy on Halloween, you’re gonna get diabetes.
Eat too much cake for your Birthday, you’re gonna get diabetes.
I’m certainly not the ONLY one that has made this “joke” before. It always happens when you see someone eating MORE sugar than any human should probably be eating in one sitting.
And while we’re typically “joking” with the idea that you can ACTUALLY get diabetes from eating too much sugar in one sitting, the idea stems from one of the BIGGEST MYTH about the cause of prediabetes.
Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?
Most of us belief that eating too much sugar is the cause of diabetes. AND that if we continue to eat too much sugar, it will make it worse!
Well, the truth is… Sugar does not cause diabetes. Straight up!
The reason why we think this way is because prediabetes is diagnosed through a simple test which measures the amount of sugar in your blood. And so… if that level is high, it must mean that we eat to much sugar, right? Nope, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Our Blood Sugar Levels Are a SYMPTOM of Prediabetes, NOT the Cause
When we eat food, our blood sugar levels rise up, and when we don’t eat food, eventually they drop down again. So, if sugar doesn’t cause prediabetes and it only causes an increase in the symptoms that we measure, what is the actual cause? The answer… excessive saturated fat in the body.
Fat that builds up into the cells in your body that are not meant to be storing fat. Specifically, we’re talking about muscle cells, liver cells, and the cells within your pancreas. And what happens is, when we have more fat stored in these areas, things start to get clogged up, and the internal mechanisms stop working properly.
Most people know that prediabetes is related to insulin in some kind of way, right? But they might not know exactly how it’s connected.
Well, in short, insulin is a hormone that is produced in our pancreas and it is released as the key to unlocking the doors to our muscles cells so that energy (sugar/glucose) can make it through. This is how we are able to move our arms, and legs, it’s because insulin is allowing us to use the energy from the food we eat.
Insulin is the Key
Now, like with any key, you need to have a key hole or a lock in order to use the key, right?
So our muscle cells have highways that connect the blood in our arteries to the cells of our muscles, and those highways have a lock that stops the traffic of energy from getting in. So we use the key (insulin) that opens the lock (the highway) so that we can have energy flowing through our body. Simple enough right?
The problem is that when we have too much fat built up in our cells, those excessive fat cells block the keyhole. Which means the insulin stops working. Which means the sugars in the blood, get trapped in the blood.
This is called insulin resistance. Our muscle cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. Our muscles are no longer able to open the highways because the key doesn’t fit in the keyhole.
This is What Prediabetes is… and How It’s Caused
It is NOT caused from the sugar molecules floating around in your blood, despite what everyone thinks.
It’s caused by having fat stored in the areas of your body that it shouldn’t be. And obviously we don’t have control of where our fat is stored… the body kind of does that on it’s own. But we do have control over… is the food that we eat. AND the control of how much body fat we choose to live with.
Now, the point is not to make you go out and start avoiding fats, and exercising your butt off, in order to burn fats. The point is for you to understand the underlying reason why prediabetes develops so that you can create a solid awareness and to either help yourself or someone you know who might be prediabetic.
So next time someone makes the joke about “eating too much sugar causes diabetes”… enjoy the laugh… and comradery, and then when appropriate, share what you just learned, because you never know whose life you might be saving.