Diabetes is caused by intake of excess sugar is a widely held belief. It has made some people stop adding sugar to their tea or other food, where it is necessary to do so.
Diabetes is not directly caused by sugar. In fact, almost all the foods we eat eventually become sugar. However, the quantity of sugar in each food item differs from each other.
There is also difference in the rate at which the sugar contents of the food get into the blood stream from the gut.
For those who have intact mechanism of sugar regulation through the release of insulin from the pancreas, whatever the source of the sugar, the body takes care of it with time.
However, for those who have defect in body response to sugar in the blood, there may be difficulty in response when excess quantity of sugar enters the blood stream suddenly.
Even with gradually increasing blood sugar level, controlling it may still be difficult for people with weak insulin response to blood sugar.
When solid food such as yam, beans, rice etc. is eaten, the body takes time to digest it and release the sugar content from the complex carbohydrates, from where it is stored.
This sugar content does not get released all at once but gradually. Thus, this allows the body to control the quantity of sugar released into the blood.
Any excess sugar is stored in the liver and fat cells for future use by the help of insulin, which is produced from the pancreas.
However, when food taken contains simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, sucrose (glucose + fructose) etc, this causes the blood sugar to rise suddenly.
This is because these sugars need no further digestion; they are absorbed directly as soon as they are ingested. Controlling this excess sugar level is more difficult than controlling the relatively normal level that results from eating complex carbohydrates.
Those with risk factors for diabetes such as family history of diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle may have difficulty with blood sugar control when exposed to any source of these simple sugars.
This category of people and those who already have diabetes are discouraged from taking raw sugar or any source of raw sugars such as energy drinks so as to help their blood sugar control.
For the general population, what is advocated is moderation when taking sugar (whenever it is necessary to do so) and not total abstinence.