I get asked this question often since my diet is fruit-based. Obvious, I know, with all the grape photos I post on Instagram! Occasionally I’ll get comments from ornery followers (or people just passing through…) that I’m going to give myself diabetes with all the fruit I eat.
Well, now that it’s summer, I expect I’ll be eating even MORE fruit and forgoing my steamed veggie dinners. I might end up eating 100% fruit most days.
I’ll continue to eat my weight in grapes and have nothing to fear since fruit is not too high in sugar and eating fruit 24/7 will not cause diabetes!
Let’s look at two common myths related to this confusion surrounding fruit and diabetes.
Myth 1: Sugar causes diabetes.
False. There are two types of diabetes, neither of which is caused by sugar.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. It isn’t caused by too much sugar in your diet or any aspect of your lifestyle. Your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in your pancreas, a small gland essential to digestion located behind the stomach. The insulin-producing cells in your pancreas are damaged beyond repair. Without insulin, your body is unable to regulate your blood glucose levels. According to the NHS, around 10% of all diabetes is type 1. Type 1 diabetes usually appears before the age of 40.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body’s cells don’t react to insulin properly or when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This is caused by being overweight. Overweight individuals suffering from diabetes typically overeat high-calorie foods and drinks, laden with sugar, salt, and fat. These irresponsibly high calories that come along with sugary foods and drinks caused their weight gain, which in turn triggered their diabetes. According to the NHS, around 90% of adults with diabetes have type 2, and it tends to develop later in life than type 1.
Sugar itself isn’t to blame for the onset of diabetes in either case. Type 1 diabetes is caused by something completely out of our control. Type 2 diabetes is caused by excess weight, which most likely is due to the over-consumption of sugary, fatty processed foods.
Myth 2: Diabetics should avoid eating fruit.
Also false. Have you ever experienced a sugar high and the inevitable crash that follows after eating too much candy or sweet stuff? This never happens with fruit. Fortunately, eating fruit is much different than eating sweet refined carbohydrates (like cakes, cookies, and other snack foods). These refined carbohydrates lack significant amounts of fiber. When you eat these processed foods, you experience a sugar high since the sugar hits your bloodstream quickly. You won’t experience blood sugar spikes when eating fruit, even when eating large amounts because fruit is very high in fiber. The fiber in fruit slows the absorption of sugar into your blood stream.
Fruit is a healthy choice for anyone because it’s high in nutrients and fiber but low in calories. For diabetics carrying excess weight, a diet replete with fruit can lead to weight loss. Those with diabetes should be eating more of it! If you want to manage your blood glucose levels, cut out fizzy drinks, cakes, cookies, and processed snack foods. In fact, foods with added sugar should be avoided by everyone, not just diabetics. Reduce or eliminate any processed foods because these tend to be high in fat, sugar, and salt, none of which you need. Fruits and veggies provide plenty.
The natural sugars found in fruits and veggies are perfectly fine to eat in abundance for diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
For more information, please visit:
- Diabetes UK – Myth: sugar causes diabetes.
- Diabetes UK – Myth: I can’t eat fruit if I have diabetes.