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Foods That Increase Your Diabetes Risk, Says Expert

A registered dietitian advises avoiding two drinks and we suggest steering clear of two foods.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

More than 34 million Americans (1 in 10) have diabetes, with 90 to 95% specifically having type 2 diabetes, which is the type of diabetes that's thought to be caused by poor diet choices and lack of exercise over time. Even more concerning, about 1 in 3 American adults are believed to have prediabetes, and 84% of them don't even know they have it.

Someone with prediabetes has higher than average blood glucose (sugar) levels however, they're not quite high enough to hit the type 2 diabetes range. If you're diagnosed with prediabetes, that means the cells in your body don't respond to insulin properly and as a result, your pancreas overcompensates by making more insulin in an effort to get your cells to respond to it. If this cycle continues, your pancreas becomes exhausted and can no longer produce enough insulin to mediate glucose uptake in cells, where it can be transported to essential fat tissue and muscles within the body.

However, if you're diagnosed with prediabetes, you have the opportunity to reverse the condition and prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. This can be achieved through making better food choices, increasing exercise, and losing weight, for example. Below, we included just four beverages and foods that are known to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, so you know what to consume in moderation. Then, don't miss The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now!


Pouring whiskey drink into glass

"Chronic consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes due to alcohol's negative effect on the pancreas," says Sydney Greene, MS, RD, and member of our medical board. "When the pancreas is inflamed, its ability to produce insulin is lowered putting individuals at risk of diabetes."

Learn more healthy tips from our expert board with these 17 Healthy Eating Habits To Start Today, According To Our Medical Experts.

Sugar-sweetened beverages

soda glasses

"According to the American Heart Association (AHA), men and women should consume no more than 36 grams and 25 grams of added sugar per day, respectively. To put this into perspective, one 8-ounce glass of bottled sweetened iced tea can contain more than 15 grams of sugar per serving," says Greene.

"This amount of sugar consumed often and all in one sitting will cause a major spike in blood sugar putting stress on insulin response. Consume sweetened beverages in moderation and be mindful that all sugar is processed in the body as sugar, regardless of the type."

Highly-processed, refined carbs.

white bread

White bread, pasta, rice, and pastries all contain have a high glycemic index meaning they release glucose (sugar) rapidly, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. In fact, people who already have type 2 diabetes need to eat these foods in moderation as consuming large quantities of simple carbohydrates such as these could send them into a hyperglycemic state. Hyperglycemia is described as the state in which blood sugar levels are too high. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can become severe, leading to several complications including immediate side effects such as diabetic coma and also long-term health issues, such as kidney damage and cardiovascular disease. In general, limit your consumption of these foods to avoid frequently elevating your blood glucose levels.

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Full-fat ice cream.


You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream. However, that doesn't mean we should eat it all the time. Not only can a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream contain over 100 grams of sugar, but it can also pack over two day's worth of saturated fat. Full-fat ice cream options are often loaded in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, says the American Diabetes Association. Our advice? Enjoy one serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream at a time and limit to once or twice a week, especially if you have prediabetes.

For more, be sure to check out This One Eating Trick Can Lower Your Diabetes Risk, Says New Study.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne
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