Approximately 420 million people in the world have Type 2 diabetes. In the United States alone, it is believed that in the next few decades, as many as one out of three Americans will develop the disease.

You have heard it before, and you’re about to hear it again: Much of this blame can be placed on sugar (and refined carbs, for that matter).

A crazy stat about sugar: The processed food industry is a $1.5 trillion industry!

Some of the biggest problems with the industry is that many of these foods are being marketed as “healthy,” fooling people into consuming even more sugar than they realize. Gummy vitamins are just gummy bears, folks, and there’s no such thing as a “healthy breakfast muffin.” It’s just cake. And fruit juice? Just sugar and water.

Why is sugar so bad?

It’s time for a quick science lesson: I’m paraphrasing this information from a super informative TED TALK by Dr. Jody Stanislaw. You can watch the full talk here if you’re interested: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tic7X3ET4gE).

Her basic message is that sugar is killing us slowly, and we have all been brainwashed to think it’s OK to consume sugar on a daily basis. Or, “Sugar is not a treat. …Sugar has become a gradual death sentence,” was how Stanislaw put it.  According to her, more people die from diabetes and diabetes-related complications than car accidents, and this number is only going up.

So back to the science lesson: Basically, it comes down to the pancreas.

Inside your pancreas are beta cells. Beta cells are crazy important. Without them you’d wither away and die within a few weeks. Any time you eat sugar, or highly-refined carbohydrates, sugar enters your blood and beta cells act as security guards for the blood. They do this by releasing insulin, whose job it is to either pick up the sugar and use it, or store it.

The problem is that you can overwork your beta cells by eating too much sugar, or things like cereal, bread, pasta, alcohol. Any time you eat these types of food, your beta cells make more insulin. But there’s a limit. Eventually, you’ll wear out your beta cells: Beta cell burnout is essentially pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. At this point, you start to have to shoot yourself up with insulin because your body is too tired to make it.

The good news is, it actually is reversible by some simple diet changes—namely by reducing your sugar intake. According to Stanislaw, it really IS that simple. Less sugar and refined carbs (and processed foods) = a healthier, non diabetic, you!

Here are three tips Stanislaw gave for helping you combat your sugar addiction:

  1. Protein for breakfast

You don’t need orange juice or cereal for breakfast!

Start the day instead with protein, which will put you on track to have balanced blood sugar levels through the morning. It also puts you on track to avoid sugar cravings later in the day when you feel tired.

2. Drink more water

Stanislaw explained that when you’re feeling hungry and/or are craving sugar, down a glass of water first. Dehydration can feel like hunger, she said, and even a 5 percent decrease in hydration can feel like a 20 percent decrease in energy, which might be what’s triggering your sugar addiction in the first place.

3. Low-Carb replacements

Get creative in the kitchen with your cooking and start looking into healthier, lower-carb replacements for traditional carbs that you and your kids crave. Cauliflower rice instead of rice, spaghetti squash instead of noodles, zucchini lasagne, turnip gratin, the list goes on.

If you’re not interested in being one of the 420 million people with Type 2 diabetes, why not make those changes?