The Diabetes Hypothesis

Sugar and candies do not cause diabetes, but contribute to the burden on the pancreas and so should be used sparingly. Carbohydrates are best taken in starchy forms: fruits, vegetables, and cereals. The absorption is slower and the functional strain minimal.

GARFIELD DUNCAN, Diabetes Mellitus And Obesity, 1935

A History Of The Diabetes Hypothesis In Historical Context

Of all the diseases of civilization that may have been linked to the consumption of sugar and the refining of carbohydrates, diabetes was certainly a prime suspect. Here is the diabetes hypothesis in which a conspicuous manifestation is the body’s inability to use for fuel the carbohydrates in the circulation better known as blood sugar. More technically known as glucose. This glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, effectively overflowing the kidneys, and spills over into the urine, causing a condition referred to as glycosuria.

One symptom is a constant hunger, specifically, for sugar and other easily digestible carbohydrates. Another is frequent urination, and the urine not only smells like sugar but tastes like it. For this reason, diabetes was often known as the sugar sickness. Hindu physicians, two thousand years ago, suggested it was a disease of the rich. Caused by indulgence in sugar, which had only recently arrived from New Guinea. India was introduced to flour and rice at about the same time.

“The ancient belief has a point in its favor,” noted the American Diabetologist Frederick Allen in his 1913 textbook, Studies Concerning Glycosuria And Diabetes.” It originated before the time of organic chemistry and there was no way for its authors to know that flour and rice are largely carbohydrate. They learned later that carbohydrates in digestion would be converted into the sugar which appears in the urine. This definite incrimination of the principal carbohydrate foods is, therefore, free from preconceived chemical ideas, and is based, if not on pure clinical observation.”

Enter The Pancreas

By the end of the Nineteenth Century, researchers had established that the pancreas was responsible for the disease. By the 1920’s, insulin was discovered and found to be essential for the utilization of carbohydrates for energy. Without insulin, diabetic patients could mitigate symptoms of the disease by restricting starches and sugar in their diet. And yet, Diabetoligists still did not understand the environment affecting health. One hundred years ago, these doctors would reject the notion that sugar and refined carbohydrates were responsible for the disease. Another example of powerful authority figures winning out over science.

Read a personal experience with diabetes here.

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