Type 2 Diabetes: The Reason You Should Avoid Fruit Juice

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Millions of people are at risk of type 2 diabetes - a serious condition that needs lifelong management.

While some risk factors can’t be changed, such as age and ethnicity, the condition is largely preventable.

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 percent 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 percent. 

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 percent 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 percent 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 an 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 percent.

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 fiber."

Isn’t Fruit Juice Healthy?

You may be confused to discover that a drink made from fruit is linked to a potentially deadly condition.

Emma Elvin, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “The sugar found naturally in fruit and vegetables is known as fructose, and that found dairy foods is known as lactose.

"It’s also added to food and drink by food manufacturers, or by ourselves at home. These types of added sugars are called ‘free sugars’ and they are also present in pure fruit juices, smoothies, syrups, and honey.

“Sugar found in whole fruit doesn’t contribute to your intake of free sugars, whereas the sugar present in fruit juices and smoothies does.

"This is because juices and smoothies have most of the fiber removed and so it’s very easy to drink large quantities in a short space of time, meaning you could be drinking a lot of extra calories, carbs, and sugar.

"Eating too much free sugar can contribute to weight gain, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"We also know there is a link between having full-sugar fizzy and energy drinks, and an increased risk of 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 fiber without added sugars.

Fiber 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."

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