One of the singular targets of people among rising incidences of metabolic disorders like obesity and type 2 diabetes is processed food and added sugar. Therefore, the manufacturers are trying to come up with alternatives. The primary health concern is that overeating sugar causes several health issues. For example, it spikes your blood glucose levels and leads to obesity. Overconsumption of sugar is also a major contributor to insulin resistance. On top of that, it prevents one from effectively metabolising sugar and stores it as fat, ultimately leading to fast weight gain.
The imbalance in glucose levels is a root cause of various health issues. Earlier, glucose monitoring was considered a tool only for people with diabetes to check if their blood sugar levels were under control. However, with more research and advancement, researchers found that monitoring blood glucose is an efficient mechanism to ensure a healthy self. It is because glucose is responsible for various issues, including obesity.
The HealthifyPro 2.0 is an excellent way to keep your glucose levels in check. It comes with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) device, which tracks your glucose levels in real-time. It is an excellent way to understand food’s effect on your glucose levels. For example, if you use a sweetener as a processed sugar alternative, the CGM will immediately inform you of the impact of the sweetener on your glucose levels. That will help you decide whether it is safe for consumption. The pro coaches also track your glucose readings and help you plan a diet that best suits you.
Sweeteners: An Introduction
Sweeteners, as the name suggest, are food additives used to increase food’s sweetness. In recent decades, sugar usage has declined, and researchers have discovered and created innovative methods to sweeten meals without actually using processed sugar. These sugar substitutes are known as sweeteners.
Due to the growing awareness of several health concerns arising from excess sugar consumption, the food industry proposes substituting artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols for sugar. These sweeteners give a sweet taste without adding calories to the diet or aggravating existing health problems since they stimulate the body’s sweet-taste receptors without being digested by the body.
Nutritive and Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
Sweeteners can be nutritive as well as non-nutritive. The body can partially digest nutritive sweeteners, giving them dietary calorie value. Since the body does not metabolise non-nutritive sweeteners, they have no nutritional benefit. Many sweeteners are ideal sugar substitutes as they do not raise blood sugar levels, create cavities, or contribute to weight gain.
Types of Sweeteners
Several varieties of sweeteners are available worldwide. Some of them are artificially created while others are natural. Each sweetener has a unique sweetness level, advantages, and uses. You can broadly categorise sweeteners into six groups:
These sweeteners include naturally occurring molecules that come from plants. The critical difference is that it strikes a significantly more favourable balance between sweetness and metabolic damage than those linked to table sugar. Stevia, allulose, thaumatin, and curculin are a few examples.
These sweeteners are produced synthetically by industrial food firms. Aspartame, Neotame, and Saccharin are typical examples. Since they are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than sugar, very little of them is necessary to provide sweetness on par with sugar. Moreover, they have a GI of 0 or 1, which is safe for consumption. Also, because the body doesn’t fully digest them, it doesn’t entirely absorb the few calories they contain.
Recent research has revealed a link between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and increased degrees of insulin resistance. However, their impact on blood glucose levels is minimal or nonexistent because the body does not absorb them as glucose. However,
These sweeteners slightly impact glucose and insulin levels as they are only partially resistant to digestion. Fortunately, they have fewer calories and lesser adverse health effects than consuming the same amount of table sugar, making them a suitable replacement. Examples of these sweeteners include xylitol, glycerol, and sorbitol.
Inulin and oligofructose, two sugars linked together, are used to make these sweeteners. They are less sweet than table sugar, but they are much more difficult to digest and processed via fermentation in the large intestine. Hence, they are called fibres.
Modified Sugar and Sugar Extract
Usually, the processing of these sweeteners involves enzymes that convert starch into these sugars. Additionally, modified sugars like caramel and golden syrup are on the list. They frequently have a high glycemic index and may damage teeth. People most commonly use them in processed meals or cooking.
Sucrose, Glucose and Fructose (Sugars)
The most common sweeteners are sucrose, glucose, and fructose. These are the most common forms of natural sugar that you can find in various foods like milk, cereals, fruits and vegetables. On average, these forms of sugar provide four calories per gram of carbs.
Sweeteners And Glycemic Index
When choosing the ideal sweetener, there are numerous factors to consider. All offer different advantages and disadvantages. So it’s critical to pick the best one for your needs. Finding a low-glycemic sweetener is among the most crucial considerations. Finding a low-carb sweetener is another option.
The Glycemic Index is the primary metric to assess how a particular food affects blood sugar levels (GI). The rate at which a specific quantity of the carbs in a sweetener will raise blood sugar determines that sweetener’s Glycemic Index. That prescribed quantity in testing is 50g of carbs. The GI then displays how rapidly blood sugar levels will rise after consuming 50g of a particular sweetener.
Three factors influence the glycemic index of sweeteners:
- The carbohydrate content of the food.
- The kind of carbohydrates that are there.
- Additional compounds that inhibit the metabolism of carbs, such as soluble fibre.
Compared to other high GI options, foods with a lower GI will assist one in keeping a lower and healthy range after eating them. A GI score under 55 is low, whereas one over 70 is considered high. Those in the middle, between 56 and 69, are referred to as moderate.
Sweeteners with higher fructose content typically have a lower GI. According to studies, people with diabetes or without diabetes have reduced two-hour postprandial blood glucose concentrations when they consume fructose instead of glucose or sucrose.
The HealthifyMe Note
The greater the effect a particular sweetener will have on blood sugar, the higher the Glycemic index number. The glycemic index score of a specific food determines how well it controls (or maintains low) blood sugar. The lower the score, the better.
Glycemic Load and Carb Per Serving of Sweeteners
Different sweeteners have varying carbohydrate counts per serving. For example, a 50g serving of two different sweeteners will offer two different amounts of carbohydrates. Therefore, only knowing an item’s GI does not tell you how quickly a serving of that item would boost your blood sugar levels because it may contain a lot or minimal carbohydrates. To get this, multiply the carbs per serving by the sweetener’s glycemic index. It is also known as the Glycemic Load.
First, you multiply the GI by the serving’s amount of carbohydrates and then divide the result by 100 to determine the glycemic load. Here is the formula:
Glycemic Index*Carbs per Serving/100
One can better understand how rapidly blood sugar will rise after consuming a serving of a food item by looking at its glycemic load.
Sweeteners with a High Glycemic Score
Maltodextrin (Glycemic Index 110)
Wheat, corn, rice, or potato starch are some ingredients used to make it. Consuming maltodextrin is neither necessary nor beneficial. It even impairs the ability to control blood sugar. Maltodextrin is frequently employed as a thickening or filler to increase the volume of packaged goods. Additionally, it aids in extending the shelf life of processed foods.
Dextrose/Glucose (Glycemic Index 100)
It is a type of sugar made from wheat or corn. You should never consume it because it has a very high glycemic index. You must avoid its consumption as it can raise your blood glucose levels and cause harm.
Maple Syrup (Glycemic Index 54)
One of the best natural sugars is pure Grade-A maple syrup. It has a relatively low glycemic index and contains very few chemicals. While sucrose makes up the majority of maple syrup, it also has trace levels of fat-melting zinc, muscle-building magnesium, and muscle-repairing manganese. Therefore, it is best to consume maple syrup in moderation.
Honey (Glycemic Index 50)
There are five distinct sugars in honey, but the two that predominate are fructose (which makes up 50%) and glucose (44%). According to research, honey’s moderate quantities of fructose help slow down digestion, which eventually contributes to its ability to reduce blood sugar levels and may even have the potential as an anti-diabetic agent.
Palm sugar (Glycemic Index 35)
The makers produce this sweetener by tapping a sugar date palm tree’s trunk. Indian or Thai cuisines frequently add palm sugar to their recipes. Phosphorus, iron, and vitamins C and B are all present in this sugar in trace amounts.
Coconut Palm Sugar (Glycemic Index 35)
Many people use it for brown sugar in baked items because it has a similar flavour. Most coconut palm sugar is sucrose (75-80%). It has a low soluble fibre (inulin), which researchers believe is why it ranks well on the glycemic index list at 35.
Coconut sugar has the highest concentrations of potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, and even some vitamin C when compared to other nutritive sweeteners.
Fructose (Glycemic Index 25)
Fruit, various vegetables, honey, and other foods naturally contain fructose. In addition, people use it to make table sugar. Despite having a relatively low GI, fructose has numerous negative consequences. Even though research found that little doses of fructose may improve glycemic control over time, diet high in fructose leads to worsening hypertriglyceridemia and obesity and it may also play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Thus you must not consume fructose excessively.
Low Glycemic Score Sweeteners
Most diabetics can use these low-glycemic sweeteners without any problems in terms of blood sugar.
Xylitol (Glycemic Index 12)
Chewing gums often contain xylitol, and sugar alcohol, which you can also find naturally in strawberries, mushrooms, and other fruits and vegetables. Makers most frequently make it from the pulp of birch trees. Sadly, it has a low digestive tolerance and may have unpleasant side effects in excessive doses, similar to those caused by laxatives.
Sorbitol ( Glycemic Index 4)
A naturally occurring sugar alcohol, sorbitol, is present in many berries and stone fruits. However, unlike other sugar alcohols, it has calories (around 60% of sugar).
Erythritol (Glycemic Index 1)
Erythritol has the advantage of not causing the same digestive issues as other sugar alcohols. The digestive system is accustomed to it because it occurs naturally in numerous foods people have eaten for centuries, including grapes, pears, melons, and even mushrooms. The most significant advantage is that it does not affect blood glucose levels and does not supply fructose, which causes belly fat.
Stevia (Glycemic Index 0)
A South American native plant is the source of stevia. It’s a terrific method to flavour-boost the coffee as it can help decrease blood pressure and stabilise blood sugar. It is 200–300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories or GI.
A study found that drinking a cup of tea sweetened with ordinary sugar-induced people to eat roughly 300 calories more throughout the day than those who consumed stevia, regardless of whether they were healthy and lean or obese. Furthermore, stevia reduced post-meal rises in blood sugar and insulin levels.
This plant derives from the fact that it was historically grown by monks in China. Another name of monk fruit is Luo Han Guo. It is around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and people have been consuming it for around hundred years. It even conmtains antioxidants and vitamins and is an excellent option for sticking with zero-calorie sweeteners.
Before widespread public uproar about its potential risks, people frequently used this sweetener to reduce the sugar and calorie content of yoghurt, desserts, and soft drinks. However, this sweetener might overwhelm the brain with phenylalanine, resulting in jittery and anxious feelings.
Saccharin, a synthetic molecule, is chemically distinct from any type of sugar that the systems can digest, and activates your taste buds at levels 200–700 times higher than sucrose.
A study proved that consuming saccharin increases the chance of developing glucose intolerance in both rats and humans by changing our gut microbiota.
Below are some sweeteners with their glycemic index.
- Maltodextrin: 110
- Maltose: 105
- Glucose: 100
- Sucrose: 65
- Caramel: 60
- Maple Syrup: 54
- Honey: 50
- Cane Juice: 43
- Coconut Palm Sugar: 35
- Fructose: 25
- Xylitol: 12
- Sorbitol: 4
- Mannitol: 4
- Aspartame: 0
- Cyclamate: 0
- Saccharin: 0
- Sucralose: 0
Effects of high glycemic sweeteners
Studies have demonstrated that regardless of whether a product contains calories, the pancreas immediately releases insulin after your brain detects sweet taste on the tongue. The zero-calorie sweetener deceives the body. It waits for glucose to enter the bloodstream but receives none, which increases hunger.
Overconsumption of high-glycemic sweeteners may weaken the body’s regulatory system, raising the risk of insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory oxidative stress, according to a study.
The HealthifyMe Note
High glycemic sweeteners can raise blood glucose levels significantly. As a result, they can overwhelm the body with more sugar and encourage fat accumulation. Also, one must understand that only calories cannot define whether the sweetener is safe. Therefore, you should always look at the glycemic index.
Although the GI is helpful, different people react differently to the same foods. It is especially true when contrasting sweeteners because you can directly compare them to glucose. In contrast to the GI, which is determined using a specific serving size of a single item, different persons consume varying amounts of food. Whether it’s sweeteners or any other food, consuming it in moderation helps to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders.