Sugar-free candies and substitutes may work well for people watching out for their calories. But it is not a great idea if you have diabetes. The sugar-free candies are just ‘sugar’ free not carbohydrate free. Although we relate diabetes with sugar, it is more related to carbohydrates. Diabetes basically is the inability of the body in processing carbohydrates and that leading to the excess sugar in the blood. So a simple sugar-free does not work for them.
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What is sugar-free?
Sugar-free products basically lack the ‘sugar’ or sucrose. These products substitute the sucrose with other carbohydrates that can add sweetness. Basically, most of them end up being carbohydrates. The common sugar substitute sweeteners are glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, honey etc. These are derivates of the sugar. They can affect the blood glucose level as they all are carbohydrates.
Another set of sweeteners is the sugar-alcohol. It has sugar and alcohol only in the name. These are polypols that are again formed of carbohydrates. When compared to the sugar derivatives, the sugar-alcohols has fewer calories in them. The commonly used polypols are xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol etc. These can be natural or artificial.
Even though the poypols contain carbohydrates, these are one of the popular sweeteners added in diabetic foods. Most of the diabetic foods in the market contain one of these sugar-alcohols.
The Best Sugar-Free Options For Diabetes
Sugar-alcohols- Low glycemic index
Taking all things into consideration, the option may fall on the sugar-alcohols to have a sugar-free option for diabetes. Even though they have carbohydrates, these are added in the diabetic foods that are available in the market.
- The carbohydrates in these are slow to be absorbed by the body and have a less glycemic index value.
- It can be metabolized by the body without the use of insulin
- It can be digested in the intestine
But the downside here is that they have high calories and are high in fat as well. Consuming sugar-alcohols in high amount could cause digestive disorders like flatulence, bloating, diarrhea etc.
Stevia- natural sweetener
Stevia is a natural sweetener that has very low calories. It is popular among people for weight management. What many people do not know is that it possesses anti-diabetic and antioxidant properties. It has other benefits for diabetic patients such as,
- Increase glucose tolerance in the cells
- Increase the effect of insulin on the cell membranes
- Regulate blood glucose levels
- Improve insulin production
- Can thwart the complications related to Type 2 diabetes
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The problem with Stevia is that it comes in processed form. Though it is a natural ingredient, to make it ready for use, it undergoes several processing steps.
Research Says Sugar-free & Sweeteners Are Bad For Diabetes
Yes, as much as you can have a small share once in a while, they can be highly damaging to the body when used for long term. Our body reacts to the different sweeteners differently. It takes some time for the body to get used to the newer sweets in the diet. Even the brain gets confused at times.
Affecting the brain with artificial sweeteners or anything other than sugar could end up getting signals to eat more. The result is, not only is the sweet craving satisfied, it would just increase.
It can also increase the glucose levels in the blood. Using too much of these sweeteners can cause glucose intolerance.
The problem with sugar-alcohol is that it is most likely be artificial.
If you are to choose between these two options, the winner very well be Stevia as it is natural and has fewer side effects.
The proper usage of sugar-free candy
When you have diabetes, the focus must be on the low carbohydrate intake. It is the carbohydrates that spike the blood sugar levels. Whether you eat a sugar-free candy or a sugary candy would come only secondary. If you can manage the dietary carbohydrate, you can easily have a candy once in a while. It does not matter whether it is sugar-free or not.
When you eat low carbohydrate diet, the blood sugar increase is not sudden after the food. It gives you more room for a small candy after the meal. When the meal itself is high with carbs, you better not look for a dessert.
The Best Solution To Control Diabetes
The best solution for people with diabetes is to manage their carbohydrate intake so that they can have the real sugary candy. They don’t need to look for the sugar-free candy. Sugar-free candies may not be a good option for the long-term use, it sure gives a relief for the sweet tooth once a while.
Just make sure that the sugar-free candy has all the details on the label. It should either be a sugar-alcohol or Stevia as the sweetener. The rest of all is not such a good idea after all.