“We encourage our patients to use real sugar, rather than all that fake stuff.”
This was a common sentiment expressed by attendees of the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference earlier this month.
The 2012 convention—attended by thousands of healthcare professionals, nurses, dieticians, and certified diabetes educators—is an annual event held to educate and update members of the field on critical issues facing those living with diabetes.
As in years past, the convention hall was packed with products made with artificial sweeteners. It’s a huge market for these products, given that a common myth surrounding diabetes is that once diagnosed, you can’t eat sugar.
But those who understand the science, say that isn’t so. In fact, in its most recent Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes position statement, the American Diabetes Association says:
“Substantial evidence from clinical studies demonstrates that dietary sucrose [sugar] does not increase glycemia more than isocaloric amounts of starch. Thus intake of sucrose and sucrose-containing foods by people with diabetes does not need to be restricted because of concern about aggrevating hyperglycemia. Sucrose can be substituted for other carbohydrate sources in the meal plan or, if added to the meal plan, adequately covered with insulin…”
Many of the attendees endorsed this assessment, acknowledging that it’s better to have sucrose or “the real thing” as they say, in moderation, than to consume man-made sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin, or artificials like sucralose and acesulfame k.
Consumers have spent so much time worrying about the effects of eating “too much sugar” in recent years, but real sugar is known, is natural and has been used for more than 2,000 years. Time and again peer-reviews of the science have confirmed that it’s safe and that there is no need to set intake levels because, when consumed in moderation, it does not lead to dietary-related diseases.
We can’t say the same of the artificials being sold to diabetics in the name of healthy eating.
In 2007, the Institute of Medicine’s “Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools” report stated:
“While available studies of the safety of nonnutritive sweeteners have given assurance that they can be marketed and consumed by the public, there are not any studies that have looked for potential effects when these substances are consumed over many years, starting in childhood or teen years. Therefore, the committee did not make recommendations regarding foods containing nonnutritive sweeteners.”
When you cut through the myths and the media hype, isn’t the question of “which sweetener is the safest” a natural one?