What is Sugar in Relation to Diabetes?


sugarDiabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high because of the hormone known as insulin produced by part of the pancreas, a large gland located behind the stomach. Insulin helps move the glucose into the cells of our body, to give them the energy they need. Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in our blood. If we don’t have enough insulin, or the insulin we produce isn’t working properly, the glucose isn’t moved into the cells of our body. Instead, glucose builds up in our blood. This means the cells in our body aren’t getting the energy they need. A build-up of glucose in the blood can also damage tissues and arteries, and lead to other serious health problems. There are two main types of diabetes, these are referred to as type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. It is more common than type 1 with about 90% of people with diabetes having type 1 and they are usually aged 40 years and over. Type 1 diabetes which occurs when the body doesn’t produce any insulin at all. This is because the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. This causes insulin deficiency and your glucose levels increase, which can seriously damage the body’s organs. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. elderly-man-diabetes-glucose It is important diabetes is diagnosed as early as possible. Diabetes cannot be cured, but treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible to control your symptoms and minimise health problems developing later. What is sugar? All sugars are carbohydrates found naturally in most foods. Their main nutritional value is in providing energy. However, sugar is also added to lots of foods such as sweets, chocolate, cakes and some fizzy and juice drinks. Sugar is known as many different things it may be called: glucose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, honey, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, and fructose. Look for the carbohydrates in foods as these are the body’s main source of energy.  They are easily digested and broken down into glucose, which the body uses to perform its numerous functions. But be forewarned, almost all fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy products and processed and packaged foods have some amount of sugar. Many foods that contain added sugars are also high in energy, so eating these foods often can contribute to you becoming overweight. Sugary foods and drinks can also cause tooth decay, especially if you eat them between meals. The longer the sugary food is in contact with the teeth, the more damage it can cause. The sugars found naturally in whole fruit are less likely to cause tooth decay because the sugars are contained within the structure of the fruit. But when fruit is juiced or blended, the sugars are released. Once released, these sugars can damage teeth, especially if fruit juice is drunk frequently. Fruit juice is still a healthy choice, and counts as one of your recommended daily five portions of fruit and vegetables. But it is best to drink fruit juice at mealtimes in order to minimise damage to your teeth. When we eat starchy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes, or sugary foods such as chocolate or cakes, the digestion of these foods produces a form of energy called glucose.