Diabetes: Lower your risk with sleep and wholegrains

In 2017, over 450 million people globally had diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help prevent Type 2 diabetes. Two newly released reports reveal how you can lower your risk of developing the disease.

The importance of a good night's sleep

In a study involving mice, researchers at Toho University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan discovered that losing only one night — or six hours — of sleep increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The group of sleep-deprived mice had much higher blood sugar levels, and the production of triglycerides in the liver also increased. Triglycerides are fats associated with insulin resistance, a hallmark of diabetes.

Read more: Myths and facts about diabetes

Additionally, sleep deprivation led to changes in liver enzymes that are responsible for regulating the liver's metabolism.

The researchers' results show that sleep deprivation is definitely a risk factor for diabetes. A good sleep routine is therefore important for preventing diabetes in people with an already increased risk.

Wholegrains against diabetes 

A daily dose of wholegrains, such as oats, wheat or rye, can reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

In a large study, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the Danish Cancer Society Research Center analyzed the eating habits of over 55,000 diabetes-free participants.

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These mice are lowering their diabetes risk by eating wholegrain bread

The participants were asked to list the types of wholegrain products they consumed each day. Items listed included bread, muesli and porridge.

Read more: Inactivity puts adults worldwide at risk of disease

After 15 years, the researchers followed up with the participants. The results showed that people who ate wholegrains each day had a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"When it comes to wholegrains, the research results are clear. Among the many studies which have been made, in varied groups of people around the world, there hasn't been a single study which has shown negative health effects," concludes Rikard Landberg, senior researcher of the study.

Sugar makes you fat!

Sugar is converted to fat in the body about two to five times more quickly than starches. In other words, when we consume sugar, we’re feeding our fat cells. The fructose in sugar is also metabolized by the liver, which can contribute to fatty liver disease. That can promote insulin resistance and lead to Type 2 diabetes – with a lifelong impact on your health.

Sugar affects your mood!

In small amounts, sugar promotes the release of serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood. But too much sugar can promote depression and anxiety. Sudden shifts in blood sugar levels can also lead to irritability, anxiety and mood swings.

Sugar contributes to aging!

We already know that sugar has a variety of health effects, but it also affects the skin. That’s in part due to glycation, the process whereby sugar molecules bind to collagen fibers. As a result, the collagen fibers lose their natural elasticity. Excess sugar also damages microcirculation, which slows cell turnover. That can promote the development of wrinkles, make you look older than your age.

Sugar is harmful to your gut!

The microflora of your gut promote digestion and protect your digestive system from harmful bacteria. Consuming too much sugar gets your gut microflora out of whack. Fungi and parasites love sugar. An excess of the Candida albicans yeast can lead to a host of annoying health symptoms. And sugar also contributes to constipation, diarrhea and gas.

Sugar can be addictive!

In overweight people, the brain responds to sugar by releasing dopamine, in much the same way that it responds to alcohol or other addictive substances. Test it yourself: avoid all sugary foods and beverages for ten days. If you start to get headachy and irritable after a day or two, and start craving sugar, then you could be suffering from sugar withdrawal.

Sugar makes you aggressive!

People who consume excess sugar are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior. Children with ADHD are also affected by sugar. For these children, too much sugar affects concentration and promotes hyperactivity. That’s why it’s a good idea for children to avoid eating sugar during school hours.

Sugar weakens the immune system!

Excessive sugar consumption makes it harder for the immune system to ward off disease. After consuming sugar, the immune system’s ability to kill germs is reduced by up to 40 percent. Sugar also saps the body’s store of vitamin C, which white blood cells need to fight off viruses and bacteria. Sugar also promotes the inflammatory response, and even minor inflammation can trigger numerous diseases.

Sugar promotes Alzheimer’s disease!

Studies have shown that excess sugar consumption increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2013 study showed that insulin resistance and high blood sugar values – both of which are common in diabetes – are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Sugar increases cancer risk!

Cancer cells need sugar to proliferate. An international research team headed by Lewis Cantley of Harvard Medical School is researching how sugar might contribute to the growth of malignant cells. He believes that refined sugar may be what causes cancer cells to develop into tumors. He’s still testing that hypothesis but recommends that even slender people consume as little sugar as possible.

Sugar makes you stupid!

Excess sugar consumption may have a negative impact on memory. According to a study carried out by Berlin’s Charité University Hospital, people with high blood sugar levels have a smaller hippocampus – the part of the brain that’s key to long term memory. In the study, people with high blood sugar also performed more poorly on tests of memory than those with low blood sugar levels.