Instead of dishing out the answer to this question right away, it is important to highlight some key terms such that before reading to end, you would be able to answer the question yourself.
The first thing to understand is that diabetes is not really a problem of sugar but instead malfunctioning of insulin.
This is concerned with tither the way insulin is produced or the way it is being used.
So then, what is insulin, and its functions?
It is most likely you have heard of insulin before. But one more thing, have you heard of hormone too? Very possible!
Hormones are regulatory substances produced in the body and transported through the body fluids (like blood) to the site or part of the body where they manifest their effects.
Insulin is a typical example of hormone and it is mainly concerned with maintaining blood glucose levels. It is secreted in the pancreas (an organ in the body).
Glucose is what scientists refer to as sugar. In a literal explanation, it is the body’s sugar. And not the type of sugar many people think. Some people think when the correlation between sugar and diabetes is being discussed, it is their table sugar or sugary drink that is being referred.
Difference between Sugar and Glucose
Before listing the differences, a quick one. Both sugar and glucose have something in common, they are both carbohydrates.
Sugar is a generic name for sweet-tasting edibles, mostly derived from and used in foods (depending).
On the differing part, glucose is the only sugar recognized by the body. Some of the normal sugars we refer, (those added to drinks, cakes) may contain glucose along with other types of sugar. When ingested, the body separate them and withdraw the glucose to itself because that is the only thing it can make use of.
What is the connection between glucose and insulin?
Glucose is derived from the foods we eat, majorly carbohydrate foods. Foods, when ingested and digested are extracted from the stomach into the bloodstream.
It is the responsibility of insulin to collect the glucose from the blood and get it into the body cells for energy, and when in excess, stores them.
It is the inability of insulin to perform the above function effectively that leads to the manifestation of diabetic symptoms.
The beta cells in the pancreas (the organ responsible for producing diabetes), are responsible for producing insulin. When the immune system of the body sees these cells as an invader and thus destroys them, it results in what is called Type 1 diabetes.
It is more common in children, reason why it was initially referred to as juvenile diabetes.
Maybe you have come across the term “Secondary diabetes”. In this case, the beta cell was not destroyed by the immune system but by another thing such as disease or injury to the pancreas itself.
Type 2 diabetes on the other hand is caused by the inability of the body to efficiently make use of insulin. In this case, it is not that insulin is not produced by the pancreas but in spite of its produce, it is not available for use by the pancreas.
The body cells develop resistance to insulin thus preventing blood sugar (glucose) from permeating their membranes.
To compensate for this resistance, the body increases its level of insulin production to force it way into the membranes to keep the cells functioning.
Over time, the pancreas will be unable to continue this counter offence and thus, more accumulation of glucose in the blood since they will eventually be unable to get into the cells.
Therefore, to answer the question, “Can sugar cause diabetes?”, the answer is that IT DEPENDS.
As a diabetic patient, should I stop eating sugar?
No. You don’t have to. You only need to be cautious of how much you consume. Moreover, too much sugar is not good for both diabetic and non-diabetic persons. It is even bad for your teeth.
Instead of consuming sugary drinks such as soft drinks; snacks such as chocolate bars (although occasionally allowed), treat yourself to fruits and vegetables instead.
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