Going sugar free to Manage Diabetes

Do you always feel tired? Do you always feel thirsty, even if you drink a lot of water? These could be signs that you have high sugar levels or diabetes. People with diabetes have less or no insulin production, affecting blood sugar levels. The normal blood sugar level in the human body is vital for overall health and well-being, as it is essential for energy production, metabolism, and blood pressure and water balance regulation. Too little or too much sugar can result in several health conditions; hence, maintaining normal sugar levels is essential. The best possible way to do this is by consuming a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

A healthy diet includes consuming fruits, vegetables and whole grains and not eating processed foods and sugary drinks. Doing regular exercise also maintains normal sugar level in human body. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, controlling your blood sugar levels is crucial. You should consult your doctor about ways to manage your condition.

Average/Normal Blood Sugar Level

The normal sugar level in human body is 90-110 mg/dL. However, this range is pliable; sometimes, levels as high as 130 or 140 are still considered normal.

The normal blood sugar level is as follows:

  • Fasting blood sugar (FBS): This is taken as a measurement after an overnight fast (at least 8 hours). A general FBS is not more than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L).
  • Postprandial blood sugar (PBS): This is taken after 2 hours of a meal. A normal PBS is not more than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L).
  • Random blood sugar (RBS): This is taken at any time. A normal RBS is not more than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L).

Sugar Variety in Daily Life

The ‘Dietary Guidelines for Americans report’ (2015-2020) found that the average person’s daily consumption of added sugar should not exceed 10%. This report led to ‘sugar free‘, ‘no added sugar’ and ‘unsweetened’ products becoming more prevalent in supermarkets.

Different types of sugars have contrasting effects on the human body. For example, simple sugars such as glucose and fructose are metabolised rapidly, increasing blood sugar levels. However, complex carbohydrates like starches and fiber take longer to break down, meaning they do not cause such drastic spikes.

You can find sugars in tons of foods, like fruits, veggies, dairy, grains and processed goodies. Some foods have natural sugars, while others contain added sweeteners. Added sugars are any type of sugar mixed into food during processing or preparation.

What is the Best Alternative to Sugar?

You may have heard that ‘sugar free’ is the best alternative to sugar, but to start with, it does not equal zero sugar. It implies that the food product has very minimal amounts of sugar. The Food and Drug Administration guidelines state that for a food to be ‘sugar free‘, it must have 0.5 grams or less of naturally occurring or added sugars per serving size.

Desserts like ice cream, cake, syrup and candy come in sugar free varieties for those who do not want to eat all their sugar allowance at once. Other terms such as ‘zero sugar’, ‘free of sugar’ or ‘no added sugars’ also qualify as ‘sugar free.’

Sugar free foods are slowly absorbed by your body, which helps keep your blood sugar levels stable. Cutting out sugar can be a helpful way to reduce your calorie intake, thereby helping aid fat loss. Also, eating sugar alternatives may help you reduce your risk of developing cavities. You can use most sugar substitutes if you have diabetes, including:

  • Saccharin
  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Sucralose
  • Stevia

Sugar substitutes, or artificial sweeteners, let you experience the sweetness of sugar without the associated calories. Artificial sweeteners are often much sweeter than sugar in terms of taste. As a result, only a small quantity is needed to sweeten food and drinks- which is why artificially sweetened foods may have fewer calories overall.

How to Make Healthier Choices

Check the complete Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list to confirm a product’s sugar content claim before purchasing it. Furthermore, follow these general tips:

  • Creating a diet which is particularly rich in fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining good health. For example, load your plate with berries, cherries, collard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.
  • Eat foods that are high in nutrients, low in fat and calories, high in fiber, and low in sugar.
  • Exercise regularly. Doing this daily will help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

The most influencing factor you can change to reduce sugars in your diet is the type of drink you consume. This includes limiting soda, sweet tea, coffee, energy drinks and sweet fruit juices like apples and grapes. Defaulting to water will have the best impact.

Say Goodbye to Sugar Cravings

While sugar is not innately harmful, consuming too much of it can result in health problems. Often, people overindulge because they are unaware of how much sugar is considered a ‘serving size.’ If you pay more attention to nutrition labels, you can avoid such overdoses and maintain normal blood sugar levels in you.

Though manufacturers use categorisations like ‘sugar free,’ ‘no added sugar’ and ‘unsweetened,’ consumers should base their product choice on what ingredients have been used rather than labels. ‘Unsweetened’ is ideal for those who want to steer clear of processed sugar or artificial sweeteners as it does not have any added sugar, low-calorie sweeteners or sugar alcohols. However, personal medical history and preferences should be the ultimate deciding factor.

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