If you do only one thing to reduce your risk of diabetes, do this: Cut out sugary drinks
02/13/2019 // Rita Winters // Views

Almost everyone in the world today knows a friend or family member who has a chronic disease, including diabetes. This disease is defined as a lack of produced insulin which regulates blood sugar. It is a symptomatic condition that heightens the risk of contracting another related disease like cardiovascular disorder or stroke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 422 million individuals were diagnosed with diabetes in 2014.

When the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas, Type 1 diabetes occurs. It may be provoked by viral or bacterial infections, chemical toxins in food, or even genetics. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes is mainly caused by one or more of the following: genetics, smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle, aging, an unhealthy diet and obesity. While medical treatments for diabetes are accessible even in developing countries, some studies show that these symptom-controlling treatments may cause more harm than good. Many users report gastrointestinal and blood-related complications with the use of Metformin, alpha-glucosidase inibitors and other diabetes treatments.

One of the solutions proposed by an Australian National University (ANU) study is to reduce the intake of sugary drinks such as sodas and processed juices. Keren Papier, the lead author, states that the study reinforced the global campaign for a sugar tax. These processed sugars do not have any nutritional value, nor do they provide protection from diseases.

Findings from Mexico and the U.S. show that sugar tax decreased the purchases of sugary beverages by 21 and 17 percent, respectively. In Mexico, the sugar tax was able to raise over $2.6 billion. The sugar tax could reduce the number of cases of Type 2 diabetes in Thailand if people stopped drinking sugary drinks daily, and over 4,000 cases of the disease could be prevented. From 1983 to 2009, the average Thai person's consumption of sugar increased from 13 kilograms to 31 kilograms. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the recommended sugar intake annually should be 9 kilograms for women and 13.7 kilograms for men.


The study, entitled “Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in Thai adults: results from an 8-year prospective study”, was published in the Nutrition & Diabetes journal in June 2017. It was conducted together with the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in Thailand. The results came from the Thai Cohort Study, involving 40,000 adults from 2005 to 2013. A new statistical technique, called the mediation analysis, was used to determine that the consumption of sugary drinks increased the risk of type-2 diabetes, independent of obesity and weight gain.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to manage Type 2 diabetes. By avoiding highly-processed food and maintaining regular exercise, the symptoms of the disease can be managed easily. Individuals who have a family history of diabetes and cardiovascular disease can also benefit from a reduced consumption of sugary foods and beverages, and will significantly decrease the risk of contracting those diseases. While processed sweets may stimulate a feeling of happiness or content, daily intake of these unhealthy foods may only hasten the onset of Type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

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