Sweeteners and Diabetes
By Nina Nazor
Can you eat sugar if you have diabetes?
You can include some sugar in your diet if you have diabetes, as long as you stick to the diet
plan your nutritionist draws up for you. What you need to know is that sugar is absorbed very quickly and can raise your glycemia
(blood sugar) immediately. That is why sugar is the ideal treatment for the hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that can occur
quite frequently in people with diabetes.
For several years now, however,
several different kinds of sugar substitutes (sweeteners) have been available on the market. Some of these do not raise blood
sugar, while others do. It is therefore very important to know which is which and how to take advantage of them when you want
to eat something sweet without running the risk of raising your blood sugar.
What are sweeteners?
Sweeteners, or sugar substitutes,
are products used to sweeten food.There are nutritious ones and non-nutritious ones, in other words, ones that contain calories
and others that do not.
Generally, the ones that contain calories (the nutritious
ones) come from natural sources. They include sucrose (regular white sugar), honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, and fructose
(fruit sugar). With the exception of fructose, all of these will raise your blood glucose, which is why we recommend you limit
your intake of these foods.
Calorie-free sweeteners (the non-nutritious
ones), on the other hand, are industrially processed products. They include saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, and acesulphame
Are they safe to use?
Saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, and ace-suphame K have all been approved by the FDA, and you can use them quite
safely. Others, such as stevia and the cyclamates, have not been approved. You should also be aware that some sweeteners,
such as sorbitol and mannitol, which are used in many products for people with diabetes, can cause diarrhea if you eat large
quantities of them.
In short, sweeteners add taste to food, but remember
that if you have diabetes, you should avoid the natural ones like sucrose or white sugar, because they raise your blood glucose
levels. Opt for artificial sweeteners instead, such as sucralose, which in addition to providing a good taste, can help you
control your weight and your glucose levels.