Sweeteners and Diabetes: The New Dietary Guideline

Sweeteners and diabetes
Sweeteners and diabetes

Sweeteners and diabetes, what about that? Is it better to use sweeteners or do they also have a negative effect? The Dutch Diabetes Federation recently published the new dietary guideline. Contains a chapter on sweeteners and diabetes. You can read more about this in this article.

About the nutritional guideline

The Dutch Diabetes Federation consists of a large number of organizations. Including associations, funds, foundations, and companies. By being a member they say they are committed to a better quality of care and life for diabetics.

Nutrition plays an important role in this. With the right diet, the regulation of glucose can improve. In 2006, the federation commissioned the first scientific nutritional guideline for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes. This has already been revised several times.

In 2019, a process was started for the development of a new version. Both professionals and people with diabetes were in the working group. Needs, FAQs, and scientific research were used to improve and supplement the 2015 guideline.

Food guideline sweeteners

The guidelines contain a chapter on sweeteners. There were many questions about carbohydrates and sweeteners, it was found. The question they answer in the guideline is, among other things: do sweeteners pose a risk?

Sweeteners and diabetes

What do the new guidelines say about sweeteners and diabetes? In the guidelines, they distinguish two types of sweeteners. Sweeteners that have little or no effect on blood glucose and sweeteners that do affect blood glucose.

Sweeteners that have little or no effect:

  • Acesulfame-K / Potassium Acesulfame
  • Stevia
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Cyclamate
  • Sucralose

Sweeteners that do affect:

  • Xylitol
  • Maltitol
  • Erythritol
  • Isomalt
  • Sorbitol
  • Mannitol
  • Lactitol

The second row consists of polyols. They are made industrially. They are less sweet but very easy to make. And they still contain fewer calories than sugar. They have also all received an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI).

Because there are fewer calories in sweeteners, the guideline states that sweeteners can help you to consume fewer calories. And that a Coke zero is, therefore, better than a regular Coke. Of course, drinking water and tea (without sugar) remain the most important advice.

The relationship between sweeteners and type 2 diabetes

However, there are studies that show a relationship between people who consume a lot of sweeteners and type 2 diabetes. If you see this passing somewhere, pay attention. There is a connection between the two. But also a lot of uncertainty.

Consuming a lot of sweeteners does not automatically mean more risk of type 2 diabetes. However, it was seen that this was often the case. However, this was not necessarily due to the sweeteners. But the fact that people who choose substances often also have a high BMI.

It may be that someone consciously chooses sweeteners because he or she wants to lose weight. Or quite the opposite: someone really likes sweet foods and therefore has unhealthy habits.

The effect of sweeteners on satiety and on the microbiome is still too unclear. Studies have been done on this, but too little to say anything about it. These results could be important to everyone.

Is stevia the best?

If you want to choose a sweetener, stevia is definitely a good option. But certainly not the only option. You want a sweetener that doesn’t affect blood glucose, but it also needs to be one that you like and that your body responds well to.

Not everyone is a fan of stevia. It is generally more expensive and has an aftertaste. There are also people who get bloated stomach and stomach pain. Some producers also use other ingredients to improve the taste. For example with erythritol.

The quality of the product with stevia can also differ. The stevia leaf contains a bitter type and a very sweet type. Obviously, the sweetest is the most expensive to purchase. Cheaper products often contain the bitter kind.

So other sweeteners are not necessarily worse than stevia. However, stevia has a good image because it is a product of nature. Choose what you like. Or use no sugar or sweeteners at all.

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