Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Diabetes?
Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Diabetes – I am often asked what are the best sweeteners for people with diabetes and what can be used as a sugar substitute that does not raise blood sugar. That’s why I’ve created this in-depth guide to natural and artificial sweeteners for people with diabetes.
I get a little frustrated when I read or hear false claims and marketing spin about how certain natural and artificial sweeteners affect your blood sugar.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Diabetes
As someone with diabetes, I want to know exactly what will happen to my blood sugar when I eat or drink something, and I don’t take kindly to half-truth marketing claims.
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I decided to focus on natural and artificial sweeteners that are good for people with diabetes in terms of blood sugar effects, rather than healthy choices in general that I feel are out of my realm and plenty. Which is already covered by others.
The FDA defines sweeteners as: “…commonly used as sugar substitutes or sugar substitutes because they are much sweeter than sugar but add few or only a few calories when added to foods”.
This means that regular sugar, honey and agave nectar/syrup do not fall into the category of sweeteners. But before we get to the actual natural and artificial sweeteners, I want to address these quickly, since I’ve seen claims that honey and agave won’t affect blood sugar the way sugar does.
Let’s start with honey because, let’s face it, it’s sugar in liquid form (82% honey is sugar, the rest is water and small amounts of pollen, etc.).
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That’s delicious, but a 2015 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that when subjects were given honey, cane sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup, they didn’t see a significant difference in blood sugar spikes.
The only advantage honey has over regular table sugar when it comes to blood sugar is that honey is a little sweeter so you can use a little less of it and still get the same sweetness. But it is not a good option for people with diabetes!
I think the corporate marketing machine was very good at declaring that agave nectar is a health food, as Dr. Johnny Bowden said “..it’s basically high fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food.”
Agave nectar may have a lower glycemic index than sugar or honey, but is still up to 90 percent liquid fructose.
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At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. Honey or agave nectar may be slightly better for you than pure white sugar in terms of overall nutrition, but don’t assume they’re blood sugar-friendly alternatives.
None of the natural and artificial sweeteners I’ve listed below will affect your blood sugar in their raw form, but you should make sure the manufacturer hasn’t added anything else like fillers or flavorings to the product.
With the exception of aspartame, none of the sweeteners can be broken down by the body, so they won’t affect your blood sugar. Instead, they pass through your system undigested, so they don’t add extra calories.
New low-calorie, low-carb natural sweeteners have hit the market in recent years, which is exciting if you’re trying to lower your carb intake but still enjoy a sweet treat.
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Here we’re going to talk about 3 different natural sweeteners that won’t affect your blood sugar much
I am often asked if stevia is good for people with diabetes. And I love that I can say yes! Stevia is great for people with diabetes and does not raise blood sugar levels. It’s actually my favorite sweet.
So what is stevia? Stevia is an all-natural sweetener because it is simply an extract from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Most grocery stores carry it, and you can buy it as a powder, extract, or flavored drops.
In its purest processed form, stevia is about 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar, but the products on the market have varying levels of sweetness, so it’s important to know the sweetness of the product you’re using.
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Stevia Powder: I used to buy the standard supermarket brand of stevia powder until I found out they mix it with fillers (mainly dextrose) to make it act like sugar. If you consume large amounts, it actually has few caloric effects and minimal impact on your blood sugar.
The nutrition label will claim that it is a zero calorie food, but that is only because the FDA allows any food with less than 0.5 grams of sugar to be classified as zero calorie.
That said, I still use powdered stevia to replace sugar in baking because it responds well to heat. If you use a brand like raw stevia, it replaces sugar one-to-one, and I admit it may have a minimal/negligible effect on blood sugar.
Stevia extract: In general, I recommend buying stevia extract instead of powdered stevia because it is pure stevia without anything added.
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This extract has a stronger taste, but you get the sweetness without any calories or blood sugar impact. In my opinion, if you need a natural sweetener to sweeten your morning coffee or oatmeal, this is a winner. I use NOW brand Stevia Extract.
Flavored Stevia Drops: If you have trouble drinking enough water (or find regular water boring), you might want to try Liquid Sweet Leaf Stevia Drops. Just rub a few drops into your water and it tastes like lemonade, but without the blood sugar effect.
Monk fruit is another good option for people with diabetes because it is a natural sweetener that does not affect your blood sugar.
I’ve tried it, but it’s not a product I really use as I prefer the taste of stevia (mank fruit has a slightly fruity aftertaste). But that’s a personal preference, many people like monk fruit.
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If you’re looking for a natural sweetener but don’t like the taste of stevia, this is a great alternative.
Always read the nutrition label carefully when purchasing monk fruit extract, as some brands combine monk fruit with erythritol or even sweeteners such as sugar and molasses. I recommend Monk Fruit from the brand Raw.
Allulose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) and should not affect blood sugar because the body does not burn it.
It is a naturally occurring sweetener that can be found in small amounts in a variety of foods such as maple syrup, brown sugar, wheat and fruit (eg raisins, dried figs). However, these substances affect blood sugar and add calories to what you eat or drink, but allulose does not and is virtually calorie-free.
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Allulose is about 70% as sweet as regular sugar, so if you’re substituting regular sugar in a recipe or if you’re sweetening tea or coffee, you’ll need to use a little more.
The FDA evaluated allulose and found it to be a very low calorie sweetener (ie, no more than 0.4 kcal/g). Carbohydrates in allols are listed on the nutrition label of foods containing allols (unlike many low-carb sweeteners that do not contain carbohydrates), but that’s only because the FDA determines carbohydrate counts based on chemical labeling rather than blood. Effects of sugar.
What’s exciting about allulose, and what makes it different from other natural sweeteners, is that clinical studies have shown that it can help control blood sugar. The study was very small, but it showed that when people without diabetes as well as people with pre-diabetes ate allulose with carbohydrates, the effect on blood sugar was not as great as when allulose was not included.
Neither should affect your blood sugar, but there is much debate as to whether they affect long-term health. I won’t go into that in this post, but my personal preference is to stick with natural ingredients. I mean, why take a chance if it tastes exactly the same?
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Other sweeteners are sugar alcohols, which are often used in diet foods, foods labeled “sugar-free” and sugar-free chewing gum.
According to the American Association for Nutrition: “Sugar alcohols contain slightly fewer calories than sugar and do not promote tooth decay or cause sudden spikes in blood sugar.”
The most common sugar alcohols are Maltitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, Erythritol and Isomalt (these are too many names to remember so I usually just classify them as ‘ols’).
They actually affect your blood sugar less than regular sugar, but their main problem is that they also act as laxatives. This means they give you gas or are prone to bloating. I can eat small amounts, but my body reacts badly to Xylitol.
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Sugar alcohols provide approximately 2.5 calories/gram vs. 4 calories/gram for regular sugar, so if you can tolerate them (as intended), you can reduce your blood sugar impact by 50% by eliminating some of these sweeteners. For me, it’s not really worth the health problems and possible side effects.
In general, there is no reason not to choose one of the natural sweeteners
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