There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding diabetes. Since the metabolic disorder is associated with high blood sugar, most people think that sugar is the primary cause of the disease. However, many other factors come into play in the development of diabetes. Your overall lifestyle, diet, and genetics also put you at a high risk of developing diabetes.

In this article, you will learn the role sugar plays in developing diabetes and the tips you can use to prevent the development of the condition.

Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?

There are types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Sugar does not cause type 1 diabetes, nor is it caused by lifestyle conditions. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder characterized by destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

A wide range of factors causes type 2 diabetes on the other hand. Though sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, you are more likely to develop the condition if you are overweight. Weight gain is caused by having more sugary foods and drinks in your diet than your body needs.

So having too much sugar in your diet can make you gain a lot of weight, putting you at risk of developing diabetes. However, it is essential to remember that type 2 diabetes is more complex, and sugar is not the only cause.

However, studies have shown that people who drink sugar-sweetened drinks are at a 25% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Drinking a sugar-sweetened drink daily increases your chances of developing diabetes by 13%. On top of that, countries with the highest rate of type 2 diabetes have the highest rates of sugar consumption.

How Is Sugar Metabolized?

When most people talk about sugar, they refer to table sugar, also known as sucrose which is made of sugar cane or sugar beets. It is made of one molecule of fructose and glucose bonded together. When you eat sucrose, the fructose and glucose molecules are separated by enzymes in the small intestines before they are absorbed into your bloodstream.

Once absorbed in the bloodstream, it raises blood sugar levels, which signals the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that transports glucose from the bloodstream to the cells to be metabolized for energy.

Only a small amount of fructose can be taken by the cells and used as energy; the remaining is carried to the liver, which is either converted to glucose for energy or fat for storage. Once converted to fat, it increases triglyceride levels in the body, increasing the chances of fatty liver and heart disease.

Having high levels of fructose in your diet is associated with high levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid can crystalize in your joints, causing a painful condition called gout.

Do Natural Sugars Have the Same Effect On the Body?

Consuming large quantities of added sugar is associated with the development of diabetes, but it is not the same case with natural sugars. Most natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables and have not been through any processing.

Natural sugars exist in water, fiber and antioxidant, and other nutrients. They are therefore digested and absorbed slowly, making them less likely to cause sugar spikes. Vegetables and fruits contain less sugar than many processed foods.

Can Natural Sweeteners Cause Sugar Spikes?

Natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and honey are not heavily processed sugars, but they are still pure sugars since they do not have any fiber. Ideally, these sweeteners should also be consumed in moderation, like the added sugars.

When shopping, look for other sweeteners in the market marketed as ‘natural,’ such as coconut sugar, agave syrup, and cane sugar, which should also be considered added sugar.

What About Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are manufactured sweeteners that the human body cannot metabolize for energy. They, however, provide sweetness without any calories, thus not spiking blood sugar levels. They are, however, still linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and insulin-resistance diabetes.


In conclusion, excessive added sugar consumption has been associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is likely due to its adverse effects on the liver and increase risk of diabetes.

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