Sugar-free products and artificial sweeteners have always been a confusing topic. There is a segment that sees it as a healthier choice than refined sugar, while on the opposite side, there are those that believe artificial sweeteners cause cancer. These conflicting opinions often lead to a lot of confusion on whether consuming “sugar-free” items are safe, especially for diabetic seniors.
So, in light of the upcoming festive season, we took it upon ourselves to set the record straight. Our motive? Make sure our elders enjoy the festivities and pamper their sweet tooth. We did some fact-checking, so you can dig into your favourite sweet without worry. What we found was eye-opening
How Are Sugar Substitutes Different
Contrary to popular belief, all artificial sweeteners do not have the same effect or efficacy. Some artificial sweeteners cause a spike in blood sugar levels, while some have zero effect on blood sugar levels, they are even helpful in controlling sugar intake. Therefore, it is important to always check the nutrition label to see which sugar substitute you are consuming.
Sugar substitutes made from the compound Splenda, like sucralose are the worst enemies for diabetics. And they are everywhere. For example, most whole-wheat bread, often thought to be a healthier alternative to white bread, contains sucralose. If not consumed according to permitted limits, sucralose can do more harm than good. Other food items that contain sucralose are chutneys that contain artificial preservatives, ready-to-serve tea, and packaged vegetable juice. Another sweetening compound that should be avoided is xylitol. It is mostly found in “sugar-free” gum and has been known to cause bloating and stomach problems.
If you are diabetic, it is advisable to buy food that is sweetened with aspartame. It does not cause spikes in insulin levels and is easily available. Erythritol and stevia are other forms of sweeteners that can be consumed in moderation by diabetics.
Should You Use Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are generally safe to use, and there are variants that do not lead to a spike in sugar levels like Saccharin and Aspartame. However, studies have shown that foods made with artificial sweeteners are addictive. This can lead to overconsumption, obesity, and in extreme cases, Type-2 diabetes. Therefore, it is better to avoid these additives and opt for natural sweeteners.
Here are a few alternatives we recommend, along with their health benefits:
Coconut palm sugar
It is a natural sweetener packed with nutrients like iron, zinc, and calcium. It also keeps the heart healthy by helping with the circulation of Nitrogen in the bloodstream.
Dates are the perfect source of sweetness for festival sweets. Studies have shown that dates can reduce sugar absorption in our bodies and help control diabetes and obesity. They are also filled with calcium that promotes good bone health, and fibre that aids in digestion.
Monk fruit extract
Monk fruit has zero calories, carbs, and fat. This makes its extract perfect for diabetic elders. When used in sweets, the earthy and fruity flavour tastes so good, many forget it is not sugar!
Artificial sweeteners are not unsafe when consumed in moderation. Extensive research has been conducted and most reviewers have given them a clean bill of health. However, persons with diabetes should be mindful of the sweeteners they consume.
Natural sugar substitutes like dates and coconut palm sugars are better alternatives to artificial sweeteners as they are less likely to cause spikes in insulin and contain nutrients that keep the body in tip-top shape.
For more tips on how to enjoy the festive season without compromising on health, check out our blog on 5 Ways for Seniors to Stay Healthy (Festive Season Edition).
And if you are looking to start a healthy eating routine, but do not know where to begin? Check out Alserv’s personalized meal services. To know more, talk to one of our Relationship Managers today. To request a callback, CLICK HERE.