The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams of added sugar for women and 36 grams of added sugar for men daily.1 This can add up very quickly granted a typical yogurt contains around 15-20 grams of sugar!
The 2014 documentary Fed Up was a much needed eye opener for many Americans. The film explained why sugar is the culprit when it comes to the obesity epidemic. When the food industry demonized fat, companies began to add more sugar to keep the foods tasting good and to meet the demands of the consumers. Is it just a coincidence that the instances of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have also increased since then?
Watching sugar intake is beneficial for everyone, not only, but especially, for diabetics and prediabetics. Sugar may actually promote cancer cell growth (2, 3), promote bad bacteria overgrowth (4), and may even cause detrimental changes in the brain and to overall cognitive function (5). The list goes on! Ever heard of Type 3 Diabetes? (6)
Do supplements play a role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels?
Yes! There are three plant-derived nutrients (sorghum bran extract, mulberry leaf extract, and phloridzin) (7-9) that, when taken before heavy meals, can help to support healthy after-meal glucose levels. For example, white mulberry enhances insulin sensitivity by stimulating a cellular transporter called GLUT4 to transport sugar out of the bloodstream. Another one to consider is cinnamon, which has been clinically proven to support healthy glucose metabolism. Choose a water-soluble extract from the bark of Cinnamomum cassia. (10)
Should I be on a sugar-free diet?
The short answer is: no. Opt for less added and refined sugars instead. Our brain and nervous system rely on carbs as the primary source of energy. Besides, consuming excess amounts of sugar alternatives such as sugar alcohols could cause digestive upset. Others could trick your brain and you’ll end up wanting sugar anyway.
An eating pattern that combines protein and healthy fat with your carbohydrate containing meals and snacks will help to blunt the effect of carbohydrates on the blood stream.
You may have heard about Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load. Foods that have a low glycemic index will release glucose more steadily in the bloodstream. The glycemic load of a food will help you determine how much glucose the food will deliver. This is a helpful tool that can be used to determine how a food will impact your blood sugar levels. Diabetics may be practicing carbohydrate counting but should also utilize the glycemic load method.
The eating style Life Extension® advocates, in general, is the Mediterranean diet which is a diet rich in healthy fats such as olive oil and an emphasis on plant-based foods with animal foods in moderation. This type of eating pattern would be a wonderful option for non-diabetics and diabetics alike!
Can I eat fruits?
Of all fruits, berries are some of the best options for optimal blood sugar control. It’s a myth that diabetics need to avoid fruit altogether. If consuming some of the more sugary fruits, such as pineapple for example, just ensure you are doing two things: watching the portion size and eating it along with protein and healthy fats.
Fiber can also help slow the influx of sugar on the blood stream.11 That is one reason why one should eat the fruit rather than drink the fruit juice.
The Bottom Line
Why should everyone eat like this? The simplified way of answering this question is that it will help keep you out of the prediabetic range, help your organs stay healthy and it can help you live longer.
Thankfully, nutrition labeling laws have changed to reflect how much added sugar is in a package. But, of course, eating whole foods that don’t come in a package is the way to go!
- Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added- Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.WE7QqNIrKUk. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21699736. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22760570. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089. Accessed December 12, 2016
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22946113. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545981. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935155. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19413312. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17924872. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18326601. Accessed December 12, 2016.
About the author: Holli Lapes RD, LD/N is a Blogger & Social Media Content Specialist at Life Extension. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist residing in the South Florida area. Holli believes that quality dietary supplements are an essential tool that have a variety of applications from maintaining good health to managing chronic disease. You can see more of her blog posts by visiting http://blog.lifeextension.com.
About Life Extension: Life Extension has been helping people stay healthy and live better for more than 35 years. Life Extension is committed to sourcing the highest-quality raw materials, and has been creating the best supplements available since 1980. Life Extension provides the latest research on health, wellness, nutrition, and aging. Offering unique, premium-quality dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and hormones. Visit our website at http://www.LifeExtension.com and on social media, we are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!
NOTE: WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.