Type 2 diabetes warning – sugar-free drinks could increase your risk of diabetes

This Morning: Type 2 diabetes can be 'devastating' says expert

Type 2 diabetes means the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not absorbed by the cells. Why some people carry this impairment is unclear but unhealthy lifestyle decisions are thought to play a role. Leading a healthy lifestyle therefore may act as a buffer against the chronic condition.

Choosing what to include and what to avoid can seem easy enough, but certain items are harder to classify.

As Dr Ian Braithwaite, CEO and co-founder of Habitual, explains to Express.co.uk, sugar-free drinks can seem healthy on the surface, but they often contain “sugar-free sweeteners”.

“Sugar-free sweeteners (and the products that commonly use them, such as diet soda) can seem healthy because they contain no calories,” says Dr Braithwaite.

However, calories are only one factor that matters, he notes.

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In fact, Dr Braithwaite cites studies that show the use of sweeteners such as sucralose may actually increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and metabolic disease.

What’s more, research shows that people who eat sugar substitutes tend to overeat in the rest of their meals — essentially undoing any positive impact you might have had on calorie intake, he reports.

What does Dr Braithwaite advise?

“If you’re trying to cut down on sugar but just can’t imagine life without chocolate (or whatever your sweet of choice!), consider allowing yourself to indulge only on certain days of the week,” he says.

“On the other days, find an alternative like dried fruit to keep on hand in case you’re really having a craving.”

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Dr Braithwaite adds: “Then, when your allowed day comes around, you’ll be even more excited for—and appreciative—that treat.”

Other hidden health risks to be wary of

Eating fruit provides umpteen health benefits but you should be wary of its fructose content, warns Dr Braithwaite.

Fructose is a natural sugar that is present in fruits, fruit juices, certain vegetables, and honey.

To ensure you maximise the health benefits while minimising the risks posed by fructose, you should opt for eating whole fruits as opposed to juicing, advises Dr Braithwaite.

“Whole fruits are unrefined and therefore are much better for you than other sweet snacks because of the fibre and nutrients they contain, which counter many of the harmful effects of fructose,” explains Dr Braithwaite.

“The obvious conclusion here is to try replacing dessert or sugary snacks with whole fruits.”

But, as he points out, there may be other opportunities to do this as well, such as swapping sugar in your cereal or porridge for dried berries, or having strawberries with a little chocolate instead of a chocolate bar alone.

“It should be noted, whilst juicing maintains some of the nutrients and vitamins in the fruit, it discards the fibre – leaving you with the same amount of fructose as you get in Coca Cola,” adds Dr Braithwaite.

Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it

Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  1. Peeing more than usual, particularly at night
  2. Feeling thirsty all the time
  3. Feeling very tired
  4. Losing weight without trying to
  5. Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  6. Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  7. Blurred vision.

According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

“The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better,” adds the health body.

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