We are all being told to eat more healthy – consume less processed foods and take-away, and eat more lean meat, fruits and vegetables – but could we be doing more damage to ourselves than good; could we risk getting diabetes from eating too much fruit?
It’s a crazy thought! So many of us have taken the time to count calories on food packets, stay away from evil fast-food outlets, reduce our alcohol consumption, exercise more, and eat more fresh fruit. The notion that we may, in fact, be poisoning ourselves or placing ourselves at greater risk of long-term disease – after we listened obediently to all the health messages – is enough to make your blood boil.
Is There Any Truth to Rumours You Can Get Diabetes from Eating Too Much Fruit?
One of the most persistent tales currently doing the rounds in health mythology is the idea that eating fruit can make you a diabetic.
The gestation of this idea comes from the association between sugar and diabetes. Diabetics have problems with blood glucose (sugar) levels, where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells of the body in the bloodstream no longer recognize insulin, and as a consequence too much sugar persists in the bloodstream.
Beyond this understanding, higher blood glucose levels lead to fatigue in the diabetic patient and, unable to burn the blood glucose in cellular activity, the energy is stored in body fat. Obesity can be a very obvious visual sign that someone may have diabetes.
The myth comes into play because people attribute being overweight as being a causal factor for having diabetes. In other words, you have excess weight therefore you have caused diabetes.
The next step in this mythology looks at the food that a newly-diagnosed diabetic eats. Under this scenario it is the food you eat that causes you to be overweight, and then that causes you to become diabetic. Re-stated in the under-educated public’s myth language, because of the food you eat you are overweight and this has given you diabetes.
From these ideas comes the cultural memes that tend to go with obesity and diabetes. You may be told by the under-educated that you eat the wrong food, or, you eat too much. For anyone who may have been diagnosed with Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes and is on a calorie-restricted diet, this advice from those with little clue about the disease can be maddening.
In fact, one problem that comes with having Type 2 Diabetes or Insulin Resistance is the poorly understood dynamic between diet and exercise programs and these serious health conditions. Inability to lose weight despite calorie-restricted diets and intense exercise programs is a symptom of the condition. This doesn’t make sense to the under-educated public that doesn’t have a clue regarding the disease pathologies involved in these conditions.
Diabetes is a Progressive Lifelong Disease
The other point to know about this is, the longer someone has diabetes the worse the condition becomes, so that a diabetic patient is even less likely to lose weight after having the disease for 10 years than they would be after only one. Diabetes physicians know this and more often advise a stable, varied, low-fat, high lean-protein diet, rich in vegetables and fresh fruits.
Due to the body being unable to process sugar properly physicians also recommend that diabetic patients limit carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates include foods that are dense in sugar; especially sucrose, but also pasta, rice, many sauces that people cook with, pastries, cakes, confectionary and savoury snacks.
Diabetics will typically be asked to monitor foods for their Glycaemic Index rating. Something that is high in the Glycaemic Index is something that either should not be eaten at all, or consumed in extreme moderation. Diabetics aim to stack their diet with foods with a low Glycaemic Index rating.
The Glycaemic Index rates foods according to how carbohydrate dense they are. That is, how rich they are in sugars. More particularly concerning for diabetics is the sucrose sugar rather than the fructose sugar.
While sucrose is processed in the bloodstream and needs insulin to send the energy from food to cellular tissues, fructose (the kind of sugar found in fruit) is handled by the liver first, and is then sent to the bloodstream in a form the body is more able to deal with.
If you are a diabetic, however, eating a fruit such as an orange could see a momentary elevation in blood glucose levels which should dissipate in 1-2 hours. Caution is advised for diabetes patients with uncontrolled high-end blood sugar levels.
But as the under-educated public strive to be able to find a label and a mythology for the diabetic patient they tend to latch on to the wildest food myths. Ideas that blame sugar, or fruit, for being responsible for a patient’s diabetes are woefully lacking in any real understanding of how this progressive disease works.
Diabetes Occurs in the Body
For those of you reading who still may be worried about ‘catching’ diabetes, you can now rest easy. Unlike the flu or a cold you can’t catch diabetes. So, if you have been keeping a good distance from diabetics recently because you have feared getting the disease, you can now be friends without the worry.
The other great news for people is that you can’t ‘catch’ diabetes and insulin resistance from the food you eat. Unlike salmonella poisoning, which can be traced to the food one has eaten, diabetes and insulin resistance doesn’t come from food.
You also cannot get diabetes from eating too much fruit. In fact, experts from Britain and Singapore, in conjunction with a team from Harvard found that eating blueberries, raisins, grapes and pears actually reduced the risks associated with getting Type 2 Diabetes. Fruit juices can, however, increase the risks for acquiring Type 2 Diabetes since they are especially dense in carbohydrates.
According to the Harvard Health Letter “the nutritional problems of sugar and fructose only come when they are added to foods. Fruit, on the other hand is beneficial in almost any amount.”
In another study, a group of seventeen people were told to eat 20 servings of fruit per day. Even though the diet had an extremely high fructose content of approximately 200 grams per day the study found that the diet was beneficial for lowering blood glucose, insulin, blood pressure, and lipid levels after 3 to 6 months of following it.
For the obese; you can also breathe a huge sigh of relief. Studies show that a clear majority of overweight people NEVER get diabetes. Yet diabetics can often have obesity as symptom of the disease. Diabetes and insulin resistance make it easier for weight to plague the diabetes patient, and also frustrate diabetic and insulin resistant patients in their efforts to lose weight.
Physicians will often tell patients that unless they can get their blood glucose levels under control – between 3mml and 8mml – the weight won’t budge!
If you have not caught on yet, let me spell it out for you.
Diabetes occurs within the body of the diabetic and concerns a number of systems of the body failing to work correctly.
If you have the diabetes gene this will show-up sometimes in family history; mother, father, uncle, aunt, or a grandparent with diabetes severely increases your risk. If you have a family history of diabetes, and you live an unhealthy lifestyle consisting of high-carbohydrate food and drink, and little to no exercise, the risks of developing diabetes vastly increases.
If you don’t have the gene you will NEVER get diabetes!
The Best Solution – Life a Healthy Lifestyle
Overwhelmingly, the best way to minimize your own risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance is to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The best tips for doing that include:
Balanced Lifestyle Tip #1 – Drink Plenty of Water
In our modern culture we often work in air conditioned offices that suck the humidity out of the atmosphere leading us to become dehydrated. Combined with this is our appetite for soft-drinks and caffeine. Don’t we just love our coffee!
This all contributes to us being chronically dehydrated.
For an average adult we need to take-in 3 litres of water per day. That seems like a lot. If we like to drink coffee, tea or soft-drink we will need to drink an extra 2 glasses of water for every non-water drink we consume on top of the 3 litres of water we need every day.
If you happen to be a diabetic keeping up your hydration is very important. Diabetics often experience a symptom of the condition called polyuria, where frequent urination can lead to dehydration. This can make other diabetes complications worse.
Balanced Lifestyle Tip #2 – Eat a Balanced Diet
A well-balanced diet that has plenty of fruit and vegetables in conjunction with lean meat is the best eating plan you can have.
Lean meat from fish and seafood in particular is good as it is rich in complex B Vitamins such as B6 and B12 plus Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids. These are required for healthy functioning brains, heart, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, blood, lymph system and stress responses.
For a diabetic in particular, a connection has been established between Vitamin B12 deficiency and diabetes. Diabetes can attack the nervous system leaving patients with painful symptoms like neuropathy, where someone can have painful burning sensations in the feet and hands. This is also a symptom of B12 deficiency.
As a result physicians often recommend diabetes patients consume a minimum of 5 seafood meals a week. Lean protein also seems sate hunger which is also an unfortunate symptom diabetics must contend with as low cellular energy in-take leaves the body craving carbohydrate dense foods.
Balanced Lifestyle Tip #3 – Get a Minimum 60 Minutes Exercise Every Day
Most community health messages recommend a minimum 40 minutes of exercise per day as part of a healthy lifestyle. As we age, though, it is normal to add around 1 kilogram to our frame each year after we reach the middle of our lifespan. If 40 minutes were adequate this would not happen for normal, healthy people.
It is recommended we start resistance training as soon as possible so we can avert the problems associated with osteoporosis. Resistance training is also terrific for diabetes patients because it can change body shape, directing areas of the body to grow at the expense of others. Biceps instead of buttocks and tummies!
A good exercise program to follow would include 40 minutes of cardiovascular fitness – walking, jogging, boxing, swimming, aerobics, for example – along with 20 minutes of resistance training.
Your resistance training program should include approximately 3-4 exercises per muscle group rotated around a split program. This allows you to divide your exercise routine up over the week.
For example, you may work out your back, shoulders and chest first day of the week. Next day, you could train your legs, arms and core – that is your back and stomach areas. Your mid-week may include a rest day from the weights followed by going through your training plan again.
Even if you struggle to lose weight; even if you are diabetic or insulin resistant, you will be amazed at what you can achieve over an eight week period – which is the optimum amount of time you should give to your work out plan before assessing whether it has been effective or not.
After one week’s complete break re-start your exercise program aiming to increase your weights by 10%, either by doing more repetitions or increasing the load by adding more weight.
Don’t worry! Unless you have a highly-specialized diet you won’t end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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Can You Get Diabetes From Eating Too Much Fruit? More Myths About Diabetes Dispelled