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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 1 May 2006 Referencing Hub media

    Type II diabetes is caused by a malfunction in the way our bodies process sugar. This malfunction in the digestive system can be triggered by our diet. Lynn Ferguson from Auckland University and Jim Kaput from the University of California explain what this means.


    Thames High SchoolWhat is the role of nutrition in Type II diabetes?

    Jim Kaput (The NCMHD Centre of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics)

    Yeah, well it’s largely in the interaction with your genes and with what you eat, but clearly if you have too many calories in your diet and you have too much sugar and too much fat.

    So you probably don’t know that when a can of regular soda - now your cans are a little smaller than in the States - but in the United States, there could be between 10 and 12 teaspoons of sugar inside of each can of soda. And it's raw sugar, and it is the type of sugar that once you drink it, it goes right into your blood stream. So there is sugar in fruit, too, right, like apples and bananas and oranges. But that sugar is in a different form, it’s in a more complex form, and it takes the intestines a little bit longer to break it up to absorb it.

    So the sugar when you eat fruit gets into your blood stream too, but it comes in at a slower pace. So every time you drink a can of soda you are just getting a big huge bolus, they call it, of sugar going right in. And then your pancreas has to respond to that, and try to put all the sugar away into different parts of your body. And as you keep doing that, essentially your body gets tired - that’s the simplest way to say it.

    The big problem is not only can’t the glucose get into the cells so that the cells can use it, but it also starts changing the structure of proteins because the glucose gets put onto different proteins. And what happens is that you have something called neuropathy, which is nerve damage; you can have renal damage - a lot of diabetes patients die of renal failure, which means your kidneys stop working, and that’s not much fun.

    So if you have a can of soda a day of normal sugar soda, that is probably not too bad, but I know from my family, I’ve had brothers and nephews and nieces which have 6 or 7 cans of soda a day. That’s a lot of soda.

    Facilitator: Should everyone be avoiding those softdrinks?

    Jim Kaput

    ctually, for the most part that would be true, simply because they have too much sugar in them. You know, take an apple and an orange.

    Lynn Ferguson (Nutrigenomics New Zealand)

    t’s the way they are drunk, though. If you’re having them occasionally as a treat, go for it. What I don’t want, is there are some food police out there who want to remove these things from the market and stop access but, you know, you’ve got to have some pleasures in life. And I remember kids’ birthday parties where you have all the sick making foods, and all the soda and all that sort of thing. You can’t completely eliminate them, but have them occasionally as treats, not seven times a day.