MILLIONS of people are at risk of type 2 diabetes – a serious condition that needs lifelong management.
Often people need to make large adjustments to their daily habits to lower their risk, such as stopping smoking, drinking alcohol or losing weight.
But it could come down to simple tweaks in your diet – such as cutting back on your morning fruit juice.
Research has shown that while an orange or apple may help ward off type 2 diabetes, juices made from the fruits can have the complete opposite effect.
A study looked at fruit consumption among more than 187,000 men and women in the US over an almost 25-year period.
Some 6.5 per cent of participants developed type 2 diabetes – a condition driven by obesity – during the study period.
Those who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21 per cent.
But people who ate at least two servings each week of certain whole fruits — particularly blueberries, grapes, and apples — reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 23 per cent compared to those who had less than one serving per month.
The researchers found that swapping three servings of juice per week for whole fruits would result in a seven per cent reduction in diabetes risk.
Lead author Isao Muraki, research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, said: “Our data further endorse current recommendations on increasing whole fruits, but not fruit juice, as a measure for diabetes prevention.”
The study, published in the British Medical Journal in 2013, was the first to look at how individual’s fruit preferences were linked with disease risk.
But since, various studies have backed the idea that popular orange, apple, grapefruit and other fruit juices are best avoided to prevent type 2 diabetes.
A study in June of this year showed that two servings of fruit a day can lower type 2 diabetes risk by 36 per cent.
However, study lead author Dr Nicola Bondonno said they did not see the same beneficial effect for fruit juice.
She said: “Higher insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of diabetes was only observed for people who consumed whole fruit, not fruit juice.
“This is likely because juice tends to be much higher in sugar and lower in fibre.”
Isn’t fruit juice healthy?
You may be confused to discover that a drink made from fruit is linked to a potentially deadly condition.
When fruit is blended into a juice, the sugars are released and become “free sugars”.
“Free sugars” are those that are added to foods like cakes, biscuits and chocolate.
But they are also naturally occurring in fruit juices, as well as honey and smoothies.
Going over this amount could see you gain weight – and being overweight is a key contributor to type 2 diabetes.
The NHS says: “Limit the amount of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie you have to no more than a combined total of 150ml a day (one small glass).
“Have other types of fruit and vegetables for the other four (or more) portions.”
The benefit of eating whole fruit is that it contains all the nutrients and fibre without added sugars.
Fibre is an essential part of the diet linked with protection from type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, stroke and heart disease – but most Brits don’t get enough of it.
“Fibre which helps regulate the release of sugar into the blood and also helps people feel fuller for longer,” Dr Bondonno said.
“Furthermore, most fruits typically have a low glycaemic index, which means the fruit’s sugar is digested and absorbed into the body more slowly.
“A healthy diet and lifestyle, which includes the consumption of whole fruits, is a great strategy to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition caused by high levels of glucose – or sugar – in the blood.
Glucose levels are so high because the body is unable to properly use it.
All types of diabetes cause blood glucose levels to be higher than normal, but the two different types do this in different ways.
The distinction lies in what is causing the lack of insulin – often described as the key that allows glucose to unlock the door to the cells, and be used as energy.
With type 1 diabetes, a person’s pancreas produces no insulin.
In type 2, cells in the body become resistant to insulin, so a greater amount of insulin is needed to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range.
It can also be triggered when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease – accounting for between 85 and 95 per cent of all cases, according to Diabetes UK.
Typically, people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes from the age of 40, but there are some exceptions.
In people from southern Asia the disease can appear as early as 25.
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