Diabetes & Sweetners
As someone living with Type 2 diabetes, you know the dangers of taking in too many simple sugars. And you know drinks like…
specialty coffee drinks, and
can be sneaky sources of these simple carbohydrates. If you are trying to find replacements for these drinks, you may be wondering about alternative sweeteners.
Alternative sweeteners are substances that contain little or few calories and can be used to sweeten drinks. They are also used to sweeten foods like candy, yogurt, coffee creamer, and many other products that are labeled “sugar-free.” Stevia, aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose are all types of alternative sweeteners. They are much sweeter than sugar, so only small amounts are needed to sweeten your food or drinks. This is how these products can be sweet yet have so few calories.
Some people may also call natural sweeteners like honey, agave nectar and molasses, alternative sweeteners. But although they are natural, they still contain simple sugars, so for Type 2 diabetics who need to keep control of their blood sugar levels, they are not good alternatives.
You may have heard both good and bad things about alternative sweeteners. The benefits of using them are weight control and blood sugar management. If you replace sugar-sweetened drinks that contain calories or kilojoules, with artificially sweetened drinks without calories or kilojoules, you should be able to lose weight. As for blood sugar management, alternative sweeteners don’t contain any carbohydrates so they won’t raise blood sugar at all.
The downside to artificial sweeteners is some research is now showing that drinking alternative sweeteners (or diet drinks) does not help people lose weight. This may be because our bodies still taste the sweetness of the diet drinks which makes us crave and eat more sweets. There were also some concerns over lab rats developing cancer from large amounts of saccharin. But it’s never been proven there’s a risk to humans and many research studies now show sweeteners are fine in moderation.
Overall, if you have Type 2 diabetes and you currently drink sugar sweetened beverages, replacing them with alternative sweeteners is a good choice. Your blood sugar levels will be more stable and you will be able to avoid many of the dangerous diabetic complications. If you need to lose weight, just switching to diet drinks may not be enough to start dropping pounds or kilograms. Following a healthy eating plan and getting plenty of exercise will always be your best bet.
Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.