Wondering what foods you can have if you can’t consume sugar? On World Diabetes Day, here are the best options for you to make changes in your diet.
There are several alternatives for sugar that diabetic patients can consume. (Photo courtesy: Pexels)
By Daphne Clarance: Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by either low or excessive insulin secretion in the body. Most diabetes patients are unable to consume sugary foods and need to make various lifestyle changes to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
While many diabetes patients have to be careful about their sugar intake, we have a list of alternatives that can help you choose the best option and the healthy choice for your diet. Monika Manchanda, Chief Culinary Officer at LiveAltLife and a certified nutrition coach, has listed some healthy options to keep sugar at bay.
WHAT ARE SUGAR ALTERNATIVES FOR DIABETES PATIENTS?
Stevia: Stevia is a natural plant and is completely safe as it has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients. However, it is much sweeter than sugar and has a bitter aftertaste, so not everyone likes it. It is the best sugar substitute that is available for diabetics.
Erythritol: It is a sugar alcohol which has 6 per cent of calories and carbs when compared to sugar. It is about 70% as sweet as sugar. It passes through your system without getting digested. Most of the erythritol you eat is absorbed into your bloodstream and excreted in the urine. It seems to have an excellent safety profile. However, in some rare cases, it can lead to digestive issues, so it is recommended not to exceed 0.5gm/body weight in a day.
Monk Fruit Sweetener: Monk fruit is a small green melon native to southern China. Monk fruit sweetener is extracted from dried monk fruit. It is 150-250 times sweeter than the table, has zero calories and carbs, and does not raise blood glucose levels. This makes it another great natural option for diabetics. As an added benefit, it also has great anti-inflammatory properties.
HOW DO TRADITIONAL HERBS HELP DIABETES PATIENTS?
Berberine: Plants of the Berberis genus are used against inflammation, infectious diseases, diabetes, constipation, and other diseases. Regular use of berberine can decrease sugar levels and help you maintain its optimal levels. Some key sources of Berberine include European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and tree turmeric. Within these plants, the berberine alkaloid can be found in the stem, bark, roots and rhizomes of the plants. It has a deep yellow colour — so much so that it has been used as a natural dye.
Resveratrol: It is found in the skin of grapes and other berries, and it is believed to increase insulin sensitivity. Major sources of Resveratrol include red grapes, peanuts, cocoa, and berries of vaccinium species, including blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries. In grapes, resveratrol is found only in the skin.
However, they can also be introduced into the diet through Itadori tea, which has long been used in Japan and China as a traditional herbal remedy.
Chromium: Regular chromium intake may improve the insulin receptors’ ability to lower blood sugar levels. Herb sources of chromium include wild yam, nettle, catnip, oat straw, liquorice, horsetail, yarrow, red clover and sarsaparilla.
Magnesium: This mineral works closely with insulin receptors to store blood glucose and can enhance insulin sensitivity, Herbs high in magnesium are basil, coriander, mint, dill, thyme, savoury, sage, marjoram, tarragon, and parsley. They contain several hundred milligrams of magnesium per serving and can boost our body’s supply of this critical mineral.
Many other herbs and spices directly or indirectly help with insulin resistance. Some of the key ones include fenugreek seeds, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and green tea.
“Finally, please note, you will get the most benefit from the nutrients in your herbs if they are grown in nutrient-rich soil and are exposed to full sun daily. Furthermore, using herbs fresh as opposed to dry will make sure the herb retains most of their nutritive value,” said Monika Manchanda.