March 31, 2006, Newsletter Issue #47: The "Sugar-Free" Dilemma

Tip of the Week

May products are now touting "sugar-free," "low fat," "low carbs," and more. Does something being sugar-free or low in fat make it safe for a diabetic to eat? Actually, a simple carbohydrate is a simple carbohydrate, in terms of your disease, however sometimes the difference is in how the body processes the carb.

In foods that contain simple sugars, the body processes the sugar-fuel very rapidly, causing a spike in your blood sugar. Often you then have a boomerang effect of a sudden drop in blood sugar, leaving you feeling dizzy, nauseated and weak.

In "sugar-free" foods, frequently the sugar-substitute is actually another naturally-occurring "sugar" like fructose or lactose. In foods containing lactose, maltose, fructose or honey, the only thing that makes them "sugar-free" is the lack of cane sugar. They DO contain another natural form of sugar, and you can anticipate a similar rise and fall of blood sugars, though due to the increased complexity of the molecule, the effect is generally less dramatic.

Today's most popular artificial sweetener -- Aspartame -- is actually sugar-based, but it's molecules have been modified to remove the sugar-base structure that is problematic in simple sugars, with those who have diabetes. However, sugar-free does not mean that you can eat all you want.

Be smart about your diet plan. Get a referral to a Registered Dietitician or Nutritionist to help you take the "fat" out of nutrition labels. Being smart about your diet will help you better control your disease and reduce the risks of complications


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