I am referring to type 2 diabetes which is by far the most common type and the one for which we have the most information on cause and risk.
I am writing about this today because I am disturbed by the attention processed foods are getting from certain sources, like news paper journalists. I provide information from vetted sources, researchers and endocrinologists as well as other medical specialists. The information I share is available from reputable websites like the NIH, CDC, AHA and ADA.
Here is what you need to know:
The link between diabetes and processed foods is not direct. It is not processed foods = diabetes. The link has to do with a common feature of processed foods - high levels of saturated fats and added sugar.
Consumption of saturated fats and added sugar is also not the direct link. But it gets us closer.
Processed foods, because they are higher in saturated fats and added sugar, make it easy if not likely, that persons will over consume calories.
Too many calories = weight gain. Overweight and obesity - and the above factors that led to them are all modifiable. We can change these parts.
Now - Overweight and Obesity ARE directly linked to metabolic dysfunction which leads to insulin resistance and if untreated >>> to diabetes.
There are two other parts to the diabetes picture. The next one, by order of importance, is physical inactivity. We have learned that sitting too long and too often also contributes to metabolic dysfunction.
Lastly, there is a link to genetic susceptibility - if people in your family have diabetes you may be more at risk than someone who does not have family members with diabetes. This is the smallest cause and also the one you cannot change. (it is not modifiable)
The thing you need to know about 'susceptibility' is this. I explain with an example, I am providing imaginary numbers. Let us say that being overweight or obese increases the risk of diabetes by 40%, and that being inactive increases it by 30%. Instead of everyone starting with a 0% risk, 'susceptible' people start with 5%. That means that it is even MORE important for those people to have a normal weight and to exercise and move a lot. Not less important, MORE important.
bottom line - processed foods are not the cause of diabetes - but eating a lot of them is a bad idea.