Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes by Adding Fruit to Your Diet

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Last Updated: October 5, 2021

It might seem counterintuitive, but research has shown that people who eat at least two servings of fruit every day may have higher levels of insulin sensitivity than those who do not. The study was found in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, and it shows that a diet that includes whole fruits may be able to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

In the United States

  • 25.8 million people have diabetes. 
  • That means 8.3% of the population. 
  • Of these cases, 7 million cases are undiagnosed. 
  • In 2010, there were about 1.9 million new cases of diabetes over a 20-year period. 
  • If this trend continues, it could mean that 1 out of 3 Americans would have diabetes by the year 2050. 

 

What is Type 2 Diabetes? 

When a person gets diagnosed with diabetes, it means that they have problems with their blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is controlled by insulin, which is made in the pancreas. 

Some people may not be able to produce enough of it (usually type 1 diabetes), while others may produce excessive amounts, but their bodies are resistant to it (usually type 2 diabetes). This is called insulin resistance, and it is a classic indicator of type 2 diabetes. 

Insulin plays a vital role in controlling the body’s blood sugar levels. Insulin helps to move sugar from the blood and into the cells, where it can be used for fuel. When there is not enough insulin, type 2 diabetes can quickly develop. 

According to the CDC, more than 34 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. As many as 95% of those cases are type 2. 

 

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes? 

Type 2 diabetes can be genetic in nature, which means that it is a medical condition that commonly runs in families. When a person is diagnosed with it, it usually means one or both of the following things has occurred: 

  • Their body’s cells in the fat, liver and muscles are resistant to insulin and the cells do not take in enough sugar. 
  • The pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels stable. 

People who are overweight or inactive have a much higher risk of being diagnosed. Other possible risk factors can include: 

  • Having a lot of fat in the abdomen area. 
  • Being Hispanic, Black, Asian or Native American. 
  • Low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides. 
  • Age – the risks increase after the age of 45. 
  • Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy. 
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

 

What is Prediabetes? 

Some people are fortunate enough to catch their blood sugar problems before they develop into type 2 diabetes. This is called prediabetes, and it is also a serious health issue that should not be ignored. 

In a person who is prediabetic, their blood sugar levels are often higher than normal. But they are not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, more than 84% of people with this condition are completely unaware that they have it. 

People with prediabetes do not respond to insulin in the normal way. The pancreas works hard to make even more of the hormone in an attempt to get the cells to respond. But over time, the pancreas is no longer able to keep up with the demand, which causes the blood sugar to increase. 

Regular medical appointments are a must for anyone who might be at risk for type 2 diabetes. If it is caught early, it is possible to reverse it and even prevent it from fully developing. 

 

How Does Eating Fruit Daily Reduce the Risk of Getting Diabetes? 

The study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed some very interesting results. It took a look at the relationship between the types of fruit people consumed and their glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity

7,675 people participated in the study. Researchers examined the effects of whole fruit and fruit juice on fasting plasma glucose levels, two-hour post-load plasma glucose, fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance and sensitivity. They also checked back with participants to determine if they had been diagnosed with diabetes after five and twelve years. 

Their findings showed that:

  • People who had moderate fruit intake showed a 36% reduced risk of being diagnosed with diabetes at the five-year mark. 
  • Whole fruit – and not fruit juice – was responsible for this reduced risk. Fruits included bananas, oranges and apples. 

Every year, more than 2 million people die from type 2 diabetes worldwide. This simple, yet incredible discovery may help save many lives in the years to come. 

 

What are Some Other Ways People Can Reduce Their Risk of Diabetes? 

Considering the fact that so many people die from type 2 diabetes every year, preventing it and reducing one’s risk should be a priority. Adding more fruit into one’s diet is a good first step, but there are many other things that people can do as well, such as: 

  • Removing sugar and refined carbs – People who are insulin resistant may experience high blood sugar levels when they eat too much of these foods. 
  • Getting regular exercise – Exercising can stimulate the insulin sensitivity of the cells. This, in turn, can help people keep their blood sugar levels better controlled. 
  • Drinking plenty of water, and mostly water – Soda and other sugary drinks have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Water has been shown to both lower blood sugar and improve the body’s insulin response. 
  • Losing weightResearch has shown that for people with prediabetes, losing just over two pounds can decrease their risk of diabetes by as much as 16%. This percentage increases as more weight is lost. 
  • Giving up cigarettes – It is not easy to stop smoking, but those who do may reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by 13% after 5 years. After 20 years without a cigarette, their risk is the same as that of a person who has never smoked. 

 

What Happens if a Person is Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes? 

Sometimes people are not aware that they are heading toward a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. In cases like these, people need to know that there are various forms of treatment available that can help them. 

Doctors will typically recommend for their patients to make significant dietary changes and start exercising regularly. They may also prescribe medications for them, such as: 

Diabetes is treatable, and many people do quite well when they are consistent with their medication, diet and exercise. 

 

Do You Need Help Paying for Your Type 2 Diabetes Medications? 

We hope that now that you are aware of how to prevent getting type 2 diabetes, you are able to avoid having to take medications for it. But if you are diagnosed, the financial burden of having to cover the cost of monthly prescriptions can be very real. 

At The Rx Advocates, we want you to know that help is available to assist with paying for your type 2 diabetes medications. We work with many patient assistance programs and can help with any of the medications on the list above, as well as others. 

To learn more about our program, please contact us today.

 

Sources: 

 

JCEM. Associations Between Fruit Intake and Risk of Diabetes in the AusDiab Cohort. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/advance-article/doi/10.1210/clinem/dgab335/6290732. June 2, 2021. 

News Medical Life Sciences. What is Diabetes?. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Diabetes.aspx. February 26, 2019. 

CDC. Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html. August 10, 2021. 

Mayo Clinic. Type 2 diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193. January 20, 2021. 

CDC. Prediabetes – Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html#:~:text=Prediabetes%20is%20a%20serious%20health,1%20in%203%E2%80%94have%20prediabetes. June 11, 2020. 

News Medical Life Sciences. Eating at least two servings of fruit per day reduces diabetes risk by 36%. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210604/Eating-at-least-two-servings-of-fruit-per-day-reduces-diabetes-risk-by-3625.aspx. June 4, 2021. 

Healthline. 13 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes.  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/prevent-diabetes. January 29, 2017. 

NCBI. Effect of Weight Loss With Lifestyle Intervention on Risk of Diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1762038/. September 29, 2006. 

Diabetes Education Online. Table of Medications. https://dtc.ucsf.edu/types-of-diabetes/type2/treatment-of-type-2-diabetes/medications-and-therapies/type-2-non-insulin-therapies/table-of-medications/. 2021. 

World Health Organization. Diabetes. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes

CDC. Diabetes Fast Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html#:~:text=More%20than%2034%20million%20people,(and%20may%20be%20underreported)

National Library of Medicine. Smoking as a modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes in middle-aged men. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11522704/

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