How Fruit Can Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

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The CDC reports that 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes, with 90-95% of those having type 2 diabetes. Science has already shown that factors such as a poor diet can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Medication can help regulate blood glucose levels, but lifestyle changes that incorporate healthier eating are more effective. And a new observational study discovered that whole fruits, in particular, are highly beneficial for reducing the risk of diabetes.  

The pancreas makes insulin to transfer blood glucose to cells, but unhealthy diets and being overweight can interfere with this process. With type 2 diabetes, glucose is not efficiently taken up into cells. It remains in the blood, and over a prolonged period of time, these elevated blood glucose levels can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. 

As previous research has identified, a healthy diet can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. This diet includes whole grains, lean proteins, and vegetables and fruits, but there have been some concerns about fruit consumption in the past because of the natural sugars they contain. According to new research, whole fruits are an ally in the fight against diabetes. 

Researchers analyzed data from over 7000 participants in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study. Surveys were used to collect the data on the amount and types of fruit eaten and how much fruit juice was consumed. Lifestyle factors such as fitness level, alcohol consumption, and smoking were also taken into account to evaluate the influence fruit consumption had on diabetes risk.  

The study followed up with the participants after 5 years and then 10 years, and researchers looked to see how many participants had developed type 2 diabetes. 

Analysis of the data revealed that:

♦ Participants that ate at least 2 servings of fruit each day had a 36% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

♦ High fruit consumption was linked to better insulin sensitivity.

♦ The glycemic index of fruit is relatively low, so it has no adverse effect on blood sugar levels. 

♦ Fruit juice consumption was not associated or linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have shown a link between low-fiber diets and an increased risk of diabetes. The researchers of this current study believe that fruit’s high fiber content helps slow digestion, regulating blood glucose levels. Given that most of the fiber is removed from the fruit during the juicing process, this also explains why fruit juice consumption does not have the same benefits. 

It is no secret that healthy eating can protect you from chronic conditions like diabetes, and this study delivers supporting evidence. A nutrient-rich diet full of various fruits combined with regular physical activity and healthy living can help prevent type 2 diabetes. So, an apple (or two) a day can, in fact, keep the doctor away.

Journal reference:

Nicola P Bondonno, et. al. (2021). Associations Between Fruit Intake and Risk of Diabetes in the AusDiab Cohort, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism