Sugar-free Labels Can Be Deceptive
The only thing I thought I knew about diabetes in the beginning was that I was not supposed to have sugar anymore. Other than that I was completely ignorant. The idea of never eating another chocolate-covered almond threw me into a real pity party. Then one day I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for a prescription. Looking around I saw rows of candy with “sugar free” in big letters on the packages. People with diabetes could still have candy? Wonderful! I grabbed a chocolate bar and stuck it in the bag with my diabetes medicine. That candy bar did not make it home. I ate it in the car. It was delicious, with no bitter aftertaste and no guilt. If you have tried sugar-free candy, you know what happened later. In a few hours I had awful stomach pains and gas. My first thought was, “what is diabetes doing to me now?” The problem was not diabetes. It was maltitol. Maltitol and sugar-free labels Many of us with diabetes have learned the hard way about sugar alcohols like maltitol. These modern sweeteners are usually made from sugar by fermentation or chemical reactions. Because it is no longer considered sugar, maltitol can be added to things like candy and other desserts to make them “diabetes friendly.” The makers can claim their product is sugar free. Sugar alcohols are popular because they have no bitter aftertaste like most other artificial sweeteners. But I’ve stopped buying sugar-free candy with maltitol. Here is why: At 2.1 calories per gram, maltitol has a little over half the calories of sugar (which is 4 calories per gram). But maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52, which is not that much better than table sugar’s glycemic index of 60. What does that mean to you? Your pancreas perceives maltitol as sugar, raising your insulin needs. Continue reading >>
Erythritol: What You Need To Know About This Natural Sugar Substitute & The Better Choice Available
Eating healthy does not mean avoiding sweets completely. Find out about the best natural sugar substitute for your healthy diet. Erythritol is not your average sugar alcohol. Used as a natural sweetener, erythritol is about 60 – 80% as sweet as sucrose (sugar). It is used primarily in chewing gum, baked goods and beverages and occurs naturally in pears, soy sauce, wine, sake, watermelon and grapes. In fact, erythritol has even been found to exist naturally in human tissues and body fluids.1 After much toxicology and clinical studies, erythritol has been found to be safe for consumption as a sugar substitute, even when consumed on a daily basis and in high amounts.2 While Body Ecology does not recommend eating any sweetener in high amounts, we do believe that the sweet taste is a natural part of our diets. Sugar Alcohols are NOT to be confused with artificial sweeteners. While sugar alcohols do contain fewer calories than sugar, they occur naturally in plants, like fruits and vegetables. In the case of sugar alcohols (also known as polyols), part of their structure resembles sugar and part resembles alcohol. However, there is no ethanol in sugar alcohols, so it is not the same thing as alcoholic beverages.3 Sugar alcohols, like malitol, sorbitol and xylitol, are often used as sugar substitutes because they provide a sweet taste that does not raise blood sugar to the degree that sucrose does. This is because they convert to glucose more slowly in your body and do not require much insulin to metabolize. In addition, sugar alcohols do not cause tooth decay, which is another plus to their use. However, many people report experiencing gas, bloating and diarrhea when eating sugar alcohols (typically only when eaten in excess, but this varies from person to person). From a Bo Continue reading >>
All About Erythritol Sweetener And Type 2 Diabetes
As a diabetic you may already be aware that consuming sugar will do no favors for your A1C or blood sugar levels. But when it comes to the world of sweeteners, there seems to be so many choices, so which one is safe to eat? That is a very good question. Because although majority of ‘sugar free' or ‘diet' food products contain a sugar substitute, it is more common to see artificial sweeteners. Rather than help (which is what you'll hope they do), these have been shown to worsen obesity, diabetes and other health conditions. On the other hand, sugar alcohols such as erythritol appear to provide a safe alternative that you can use to sweeten your recipes – without any negative side effects. So let's explore a bit more about this sugar substitute now. What Is Erythritol? Erythiritol is a hydronated form of carbohydrate used as a replacement for sugar. It's 60-80% times the sweetness of sugar. Erythritol is one of the ‘sugar alcohols.' You might have heard of xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol – these are sugar alcohols, too. These aren't really alcohol at all, they are just termed a sugar alcohol because of their chemical structure. Erythritol is claimed to be a “natural” sweetener because it can be found in nature in food sources such as seaweeds, fungi/mushrooms, and fruits like melons, grapes and pears. The erythritol metabolite can also be found in fermented foods like soy sauce and miso, wine, beer, and cheese. Since erythritol is now used as a sweetener on mass scale, it gets produced in large amounts using a chemical and fermentation process. The fermented solution is then purified and crystalized into a pure polyol (sugar alcohol) and used as a replacement to sugar. Erythritol is often found in combo with other sweeteners such as stevia. Erythritol Metabol Continue reading >>
How Natural & Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar
I have wanted to write a post about sweeteners for a while now. Mainly because I get a little frustrated when reading or hearing outright incorrect claims about how some of the natural and artificial sweeteners affect your blood sugar. As a person 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-true marketing claims. I’ve decided to focus on how natural & artificial sweeteners impact blood sugar rather than on whether they are healthy or not, since I think that is somewhat out of my domain and because plenty of others have already covered that. What are natural & artificial sweeteners? FDA defines sweeteners as: “…commonly used as sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives because they are many times sweeter than sugar but contribute only a few or no calories when added to foods”. This means that regular sugar, honey, and Agave nectar/syrup don’t fall into the sweetener category. However, I do want to address these shortly before moving on to the real artificial sweeteners, since I’ve seen claims of how honey and agave won’t impact blood sugar in the same way as sugar. Honey and agave nectar Let’s start with honey because, let’s face it, it’s sugar in liquid form. It’s delicious, but an October 2015 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that when subjects were given honey, cane sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup, they saw no notable difference in blood sugar increase. As for agave, I think that the corporate marketing machine has been very clever when declaring this a health food, for as Dr. Jonny Bowden points out“..It’s basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as healthy food.” Agave nectar may have a lower glycemic index than sugar or honey, but Continue reading >>
Confused About Sugar Alcohols? What Every Diabetic Should Know
Confused about sugar alcohols? Many people with diabetes hear that sugar alcohols are not sugar, they don't raise your blood sugar, and you can subtract them from your carbohydrate count. What is the real scoop on sugar alcohols? In the past, diabetics were told they should not have any sugar whatsoever in their diet. Today, diabetics can have "certain" sugars in their diet and still meet the goals they set for themselves or by their health care professionals. One of the more confusing topics you'll run across is sugar alcohols and how it relates to Type 2 diabetes. What Are Sugar Alcohols - Sugar alcohols are Not Created Equal Sugar alcohols are a kind of reduced-calorie food sweetener often seen in sugar free or no sugar added food content; they are actually carbohydrates. The intention of these sweeteners is to prevent rapid rise of diabetics' blood sugar to dangerous levels, which will generally happen with regular sugar. You can find sugar alcohols in all kinds of products like sugar free candy, cookies, ice cream, fruit spreads, gums, etc. You can also find sugar alcohols in medicines and dental cleaning products like toothpaste and mouthwash. This type of carbohydrate energy ranging from 0.2 to 3 calories per gram compared to 4 grams per calorie of regular sugar and many carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols do not contain ethanol, which is used in alcoholic drinks so you won't get drunk from it. Make sure to look for products that contain the following sugar alcohols (carbohydrates). Below, we have listed some of the more popular sugar alcohols with the calories they deliver and their Glycemic Index. Note: in the United States 1 Calorie = 1 kilocalorie in the metric system Glycemic Index (GI) High Intermediate Low Very Low GI Values Greater than 70 55 to 70 40 to 54 Les Continue reading >>
Erythritol: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly With This Common Sweetener
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol like xylitol that I’ve spoken about before in my article titled “The 5 Worst Artificial Sweeteners.” A lot of people think it’s awesome because it decreases the amount of sugar and calories in what they’re consuming. You’ll commonly find it as an ingredient in low-sugar and sugar-free foods, but there are some very concerning and common erythritol side effects — even when it’s used in low amounts, erythritol consumption can cause diarrhea, stomachache and headache. The reason why it doesn’t provide calories or sugar to its consumer is because the body actually can’t break it down! That’s right — even though erythritol travels through your body, it doesn’t get metabolized. (1) Is erythritol a safe and smart substitute for sugar? If it’s made from GMO cornstarch, then absolutely not. I definitely don’t recommend it, especially when there are healthier, safer options readily available. If you’re talking about non-GMO erythritol, then it can be a better choice than some other artificial sweeteners, but I still think there are better options out there. Erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine, but it’s poorly metabolized, has absolutely no known functions in the human body and is excreted through the urine unchanged. As we’ve seen before, just because a sweetener doesn’t have calories and doesn’t appear to affect blood sugar, it does not mean that it’s good for your health. What Is Erythritol? If you’re a label reader (and I hope you are!), you may have noticed erythritol becoming more and more prominent in ingredient lists lately, especially in energy and sports drinks, thinking to yourself, what is erythritol? It naturally occurs in some fruits and fermented foods, but the variety being Continue reading >>
Counting Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are still a form of carbohydrate. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label. Some Nutrition Facts labels may also list sugar alcohols under total carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols may be found in products that are labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.” This can include sugar-free candies, chocolate, and energy bars. But don’t be fooled – sugar alcohols are still a form of carbohydrate, and they still affect your blood sugar levels, if not as dramatically. Understanding Sugar Alcohols Examples of sugar alcohols include: Sorbitol Xylitol Mannitol Isomalt Maltitol Lactitol Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates Here’s what you need to know: Because sugar alcohols are hard for the body to digest, the effect on blood sugar levels is less than standard sugar. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate. Remember that because sugar alcohols are harder for your body to digest, eating too many sugar alcohols may cause digestive complaints like gas, cramping and diarrhea. Now let’s practice using the sample food label shown here: The amount of sugar alcohol is 18 grams per serving. Calculate half the grams of sugar alcohol (18 grams of sugar alcohol divided by 2 equals 9 grams). Subtract only half of the grams of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrate Count this product as 20 grams of carbohydrate (29 grams total carbohydrate minus 9 grams sugar alcohol equals 20 grams of carbohydrate). When counting carbohydrates, include half of the sugar from the sugar alcohol. Self-assessment Quiz Self assessment quizzes are available for topics co Continue reading >>
Swerve Sweetener: Safe Sugar Substitute Or A Dangerous Replacement?
Over recent years,low carb baking is becoming increasingly popular. Given this, there are a vast number of natural/artificial sweeteners on the market. Each of these claims to be a healthier choice than sugar. Swerve sweetener is a sugar substitute that people view as natural; its also the self-proclaimed ultimate replacement for sugar. First of all, Swerve is a sweetener produced bya company of the same name: Swerve. Low carb dessert and baking enthusiasts love Swerve and use it for a wealth of different recipes. The product is a blend of erythritol, a kind of sugar alcohol, as well as oligosaccharides (otherwise known as inulin) and Natural Flavors. Erythritol is the main ingredient in Swerve and its a sugar alcohol derived from corn ( 1 ). While it looks and tastes similar to sugar, it has almost none of the calories. Alone, erythritol is approximately 60-70% as sweet as sugar ( 2 ). Despite its natural reputation, erythritol is an industrial product. As part of its manufacture, a hydrolysis process extracts glucose from corn. Next, the producers add a type of yeast oftenMoniella which ferments this glucose. Finally, the product is cleaned by filtering and then undergoes a crystallization process, resulting in erythritol ( 3 ). Surprisingly, the initial discovery of erythritol came way back in 1848, Scotland ( 4 ). Oligosaccharides are a type of prebiotic fiber which naturally occurs in various plants; Swerve sweetener contains an extract of these ( 5 ). Food products may also label this ingredient as inulin, a common alternate name. Particularly high sources of inulin are plant foods such as chicory root, onions, and garlic ( 6 ). While natural flavors certainly sounds a lot better than artificial flavors, they are not so different in reality. Artificial flavors ar Continue reading >>
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
The sugar alcohols commonly found in foods are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. Sugar alcohols come from plant products such as fruits and berries. The carbohydrate in these plant products is altered through a chemical process. These sugar substitutes provide somewhat fewer calories than table sugar (sucrose), mainly because they are not well absorbed and may even have a small laxative effect. Many so-called "dietetic" foods that are labeled "sugar free" or "no sugar added" in fact contain sugar alcohols. People with diabetes MISTAKENLY think that foods labeled as "sugar free" or "no sugar added" will have no effect on their blood glucose. Foods containing these sugar alcohols need to have their calorie and carbohydrate contents accounted for in your overall meal plan, as it is carbohydrate that raises blood glucose levels. Since many people typically overeat "sugar free" or "no sugar added" foods, their blood glucose may be significantly elevated. So the next time you pick up a dietetic food labeled "sugar free" be sure to check the label to see if these sugar alcohols are listed. Most importantly, be sure to check what the total carbohydrate content is per serving of any food, and incorporate that carbohydrate in your overall meal plan. If the product contains any total carb grams, it may likely come from sugar alcohols. Find more information about nutrition and diabetes in Staying Healthy with Diabetes – Nutrition & Meal Planning available from the Joslin Online Store. Continue reading >>
Sweeteners And Sugar... It's A Minefield!
Sweeteners are recommended to replace table sugar in many recipes but with so many different sweeteners on the market, it can be extremely confusing knowing which ones to use and the pros and cons of each type. Here we will share some information with you which will hopefully help you with selecting which sweeteners to try and also which ones you may prefer to avoid. We will also talk about sugar and different types or forms of sugar which many may think would be acceptable on a gestational diabetes diet as they are thought of as 'natural' forms of sugar e.g. honey. Curbing that sugar craving Cutting back on sweet foods and drinks will help your body adjust to less sugar in your diet and eventually the sugar cravings will subside. For that reason, some ladies prefer to forgo sweetened food and drinks to help them cope with the change in diet longer term. The trouble is that sugar (and carbs which turn to sugar in the bloodstream) are hidden in so many places that many will not realise the amount that is hiding in their seemingly 'healthy' diets. Which means that they don't necessarily know where or how they can cut sugar back, as in their eyes, they're not eating any! So it really helps to understand where sugar and carbs are hiding. This information can be found on our confused about carbs page. Granulated Sugar (table sugar, white sugar, brown sugar) Something that always amazes me is the amount of ladies who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes who still add sugar to hot drinks or food. They may have cut back, but they still add it. Any sugar which is added, is sugar which the body has to process. Sugar releases straight into the bloodstream and causes blood sugar levels to rise and the body has to release insulin to process the sugar. With gestational diabetes, w Continue reading >>
Sugars, Sugar Substitutes And Sweeteners: Natural And Artificial
If you’re living with diabetes, or even if you’re not, you might think sweet foods are a barrier to your healthy, balanced diet. As a general rule,everyone should be eating less sugar– but sometimes, only something sweet will do. If want to lose weight, or you’re trying to keep your blood glucose levels stable, you may want to know whether artificial sweeteners could help. If you browse around your local supermarket, you’ll see a huge range of sweeteners on offer, so it can be baffling to know which, if any, to go for. So in this section we'll take you through: Sweeteners are ingredients that are added to food to enhance sweetness. They can be grouped in different ways: One way is to loosely group sweeteners as: sugar or sugar substitutes.Another way to group sweeteners is whether the sweetener is: natural or artificial. One of the most useful ways of grouping sweeteners is to look at those that have nutritive value, ie nutritive sweeteners, and those without nutritive value, ie non-nutritive or ‘low-calorie’ sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners There are different types of nutritive sweeteners, but they all contain carbohydrate and provide calories. They are usually referred to as ‘sugars’ or ‘added sugar’, but they can also appear in the ingredient list of food packaging as: glucose fructose sucrose maltose honey and syrup, etc. Polyols One group of nutritive sweeteners is polyols, which are sugar alcohols, and include: erythritol isomalt maltitol mannitol sorbitol xylitol. They can be natural or artificially produced. Polyols contain carbohydrates and calories, but they have fewer calories and less of an effect on blood glucose levels than sucrose (sugar). Polyols and diabetes It’s not exactly clear how the polyols should be ‘counted’ by peopl Continue reading >>
What Is Erythritol?
Cutting calories for weight loss or watching your sugar intake? You may have heard of erythritol. But what exactly is this sugar substitute, and is it good for you? Erythritol is known as a sugar alcohol. It occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods, but the kind you see added to low-sugar and sugar-free items is man-made. The fermentation of wheat or cornstarch creates a crystalline product that can then be added to foods, much like sugar. This sugar alcohol has been approved for use as a food additive in the United States since 2001. Here are some key points about erythritol. More detail and supporting information is in the main article. What the science says Eating a diet lower in sugar can help people with diabetes control their condition. Sweeteners like erythritol can make this easier. Research has shown that erythritol doesn't have noticeable effects on blood sugar levels. Foods sweetened with erythritol are also more likely to have fewer calories than those sweetened with sugar. This sugar alcohol allows you to eat foods and beverages with a sweet flavor, but without negative effects to your waistline. Studies have failed to find a link between erythritol and any changes in cholesterol, triglycerides, or carbohydrate metabolism. Erythritol and digestive ailments Some sugar alcohols can cause digestive distress, as the body doesn't fully absorb these alcohols. But erythritol seems to cause fewer of these problems compared to other sugar alcohols. This may be due to the fact that erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine, instead of going through the colon for excretion. One study compared the digestive effects of table sugar with erythritol and xylitol, another sugar alcohol. The study subjects who consumed xylitol experience Continue reading >>
5 Sugar Substitutes For Type 2 Diabetes
1 / 6 A Small Amount of Real Sugar Is Best, but Sugar Substitutes Can Help If you think that people with diabetes should always avoid sugar, think again — they can enjoy the sweet stuff, in moderation. "The best bet is to use a very minimal amount of real sugar as part of a balanced diabetic diet," says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. That being said, sugar substitutes offer sweetness while controlling carbohydrate intake and blood glucose. There are many sugar substitutes to choose from, but they’re not all calorie-free and they vary in terms of their impact on blood sugar. "The major difference between the sugar substitutes is whether they are nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners," says Melissa Mullins, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator with Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Va. "Non-nutritive sweeteners provide no calories and no changes in blood glucose levels, which is perfect for people with diabetes.” Here are six sweet options to consider. Continue reading >>
Best Sweeteners For Diabetics
Preventable But On The Rise Rising rates of diabetes have made this chronic disease a part of everyday discourse. Despite growing appreciation for the importance of this problem, the real gist of what drives the development of diabetes remains somewhat mysterious. A deeper understanding of these issues is vital to adopting dietary measures that can help prevent and treat diabetes. Central to diabetes management is appropriate blood glucose levels, a feat made more feasible (and delicious!) with the use of alternative sweeteners. Choosing the best sweeteners for diabetics becomes clear after first exploring the mechanisms that work to help and hinder blood sugar levels. Why We Crave the White Stuff: The Energetic Demand for Simple Sugars The brain is the single most energy-demanding organ of the body and its primary fuel is the simple sugar glucose. For this reason, blood sugar levels are tightly regulated by the body in order to remain within an optimal range for brain function. While some other cells of the body also thrive on glucose, most require the presence of insulin for this sugar to flow into the cells. At meal time, blood sugar levels begin to rise according to the amount and type of food eaten. Sensing this rise, the pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that allows cells to absorb the sugar present in the blood. The ability of insulin to do its job is dependent on special insulin receptors located on the surface of cells. They act as a lock accessible only to the insulin key. The speed with which the cells are able to accommodate a given amount of glucose is characteristic of how well this lock and key system is functioning as a whole. Too Much of a Good Thing: Losing Control and Developing Diabetes There are a number of reasons why diabetes can develop but th Continue reading >>
Is The Sugar Substitute “swerve” Safe To Use For Diabetics And Does It Live Up To Its Claims?
Q: Is the sugar substitute “Swerve” safe to use for diabetics and does it live up to its claims? Swerve is a sugar-free sweetener that contains erythritol, oligosaccharides, and natural flavors. Erythritol is a member of the polyol family, also known as sugar alcohols. Unlike other sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and maltitol, erythritol doesn't seem to cause digestive issues like abdominal pain, bloating, gas or loose stools. The FDA classifies erythritol as a zero-calorie sweetener that doesn't affect blood sugar levels. Oligosaccharides are a type of prebiotic fiber found in plants. Like erythritol, oligosaccharides don't raise blood sugar. The natural flavors in Swerve also contain no carbs or sugar. Clinical trials have confirmed that Swerve is safe for people with diabetes and does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels. Because Swerve and sugar are very similar in sweetness, taste and texture, Swerve can be substituted for the same amount of sugar in recipes. It is heat stable and can be used for baking and high-heat cooking. Originally answered by Liz Quintana, RD, CDE; edited by Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE Answered By dLife Expert: Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE Certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian living in Southern California. The content of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material on the site (collectively, “Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for, and dLife does not provide, professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you Continue reading >>