Tag Archives: insulin

Is honey better than sugar for diabetics?

Honeycomb sliceRecent news tells us that honey sales are up. And up. And up. And the driving force for that is the perceived health benefit of honey over sugar.

The problem is that essentially honey IS sugar – with over half the contents of your honey jar being fructose. Whilst that means that it is a slightly lower GI value, and therefore spikes blood sugar marginally less, it is nonetheless still an unnecessary sugar-load in your diet. On top of that it carries more calories than jam. So, sorry to say, it’s hardly a truly ‘healthy’ alternative for spreading on your toast or sweetening your tea.

Also, I’m sorry to say, that the corporate food manufacturers are jumping onto the band wagon – well now that sugar is falling from grace they have to get you addicted to their products with something! In a really cynical move, it is reported, that the makers of Sugar Puffs are going to change the name of the product to Honey Monster Puffs. The stuff in the box is exactly the same as it ever was, so that’s a dead giveaway that sugar and honey are essentially one and the same.

Added sugar, including honey, really has no nutritional benefit. The NHS controversially claims that added sugar can safely make up 10 per cent of a daily calorie intake – which is the equivalent of 50g or 12½ tsp a day for women, and 70g or 17½ tsp a day for men. Thankfully this was exposed by cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra earlier this year. Dr. Malhotra is also science director of Action On Sugar, a body campaigning to reduce levels of sugar in our foods, who said the World Health Organisation recommends limiting all added sugars (including honey) to just six teaspoons a day. That’s not saying that 6 teaspoons is a good idea – it’s the absolute upper limit!

I completely agree with Dr. Malhotra that contrary to what the food industry, and, it seems, the NHS, wants you to believe, the body doesn’t need any carbohydrate from added sugar.

So that’s no nutrient value, more calories, it WILL still spike your blood sugar – clearly NOT the healthy alternative for anyone with diabetes. The news today reports it could even be worse than sugar!

And it’s not just honey we need to look out for in food products. There are over 50 different names for sugars that enable them to be effectively “hidden” in your food. Here’s the list – and see honey is included:

1. Barley malt
2. Barbados sugar
3. Beet sugar
4. Brown sugar
5. Buttered syrup
6. Cane juice
7. Cane sugar
8. Caramel
9. Corn syrup
10. Corn syrup solids
11. Confectioner’s sugar
12. Carob syrup
13. Castor sugar
14. Date sugar
15. Dehydrated cane juice
16. Demerara sugar
17. Dextran
18. Dextrose
19. Diastatic malt
20. Diatase
21. Ethyl maltol
22. Free Flowing Brown Sugars
23. Fructose
24. Fruit juice
25. Fruit juice concentrate
26. Galactose
27. Glucose
28. Glucose solids
29. Golden sugar
30. Golden syrup
31. Grape sugar
32. HFCS (High Frustose Corn Syrup… Very Bad!)
33. Honey
34. Icing sugar
35. Invert sugar
36. Lactose
37. Malt
38. Maltodextrin
39. Maltose
40. Malt syrup
41. Mannitol
42. Maple syrup
43. Molasses
44. Muscovado
45. Panocha
46. Powdered Sugar
47. Raw sugar
48. Refiner’s syrup
49. Rice syrup
50. Sorbitol
51. Sorghum syrup
52. Sucrose
53. Sugar (granulated)
54. Treacle
55. Turbinado sugar
56. Yellow sugar

Shop safely!

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Have you heard about resistant starch?

carbsIf you are a pasta/rice/potato lover then there is a glimmer of new hope – if you are happy to eat them cold!

New research suggests that cooking and then cooling these carb types changes the nature of the starches that they contain. And it seems as if that change is for the better – because it transforms the starches into a form that cannot be digested, and therefore doesn’t interfere so much with your blood sugar.

Many of the carbohydrates in our diets are starches – which are simply long chains of glucose. When we cook these starchy foods and eat them straight away our digestive systems break those chains and release glucose into our blood streams rapidly. So rapidly that we may just as well eat sugar! That soft fluffy jacket potato behaves almost like a bag of sweeties – it’s not the ‘healthy’ option it’s cracked up to be – at least not if you are thinking blood sugar balance!

But not all of the starch we eat gets digested – rather it’s resistant to digestion, and it simply passes through the gut and acts like fibre.

What this new research is finding suggests that letting the starchy foods go cold before eating them changes the nature of the starches and makes them more resistant to digestion. Simply put, it never gets digested into glucose, never ends up in our blood stream upsetting our blood sugar balance, and passes directly through the digestive tract into our gut. Once there it feeds the friendly bacteria in our systems, bringing about a whole host of health benefits. Many of these benefits are for the colon itself, but it now seems it also helps to reduce inflammation, and in turn improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood glucose.

BUT BEWARE – testing so far has only been done on animals, and we don’t know yet if has the same effect in humans. So before you rush to cook and cool those grains, potatoes and pastas wait for the human testing, and prepare to like your carbs cold!!

Type 1 diabetics being let down by inappropriate nutritional advice?

I was intrigued this week to read an online discussion about the nutritional advice and examples being given to people with Type 1 diabetes via the most commonly delivered education programme, DAFNE.

It’s a tricky problem isn’t it?  Type 1 diabetics need to take insulin – there’s no getting away from this simple truth. But there is a whole lot of subtlety about how to get the best outcomes by using foods and insulin in the most intelligent and appropriate ways.

I can completely appreciate the temptation for someone with Type 1 to eat whatever carbs they fancy knowing that on one level an insulin injection can compensate, by bringing blood glucose back into acceptable levels.  What that insulin injection cannot compensate for, however, is the fact that those sugary, high carb foods have great potential to cause weight gain, belly fat, systemic inflammation, high cholesterol, insulin resistance and more.  In this sense someone with Type 1 diabetes is no different from a non-diabetic.  High carb diets are intrinsically linked with weight gain, obesity and the risk of developing serious diseases – FOR EVERYONE!

So to actively encourage anyone at all to recklessly indulge in sugary, high carb foods is irresponsible.  To tell anyone that it’s OK to eat copious amounts of sweets, cakes and biscuits is irresponsible.  To do that within the context of a course delivered at the expense of the NHS – remember the taxpayer will pick up all the future bills for the consequences of this advice – is irresponsible.

To encourage this in a person with Type 1 diabetes is worse – and that’s because injecting insulin brings with it significant side effects – as I covered in my last blog post.  Insulin is not a benign medication.  Just because it is a natural hormone doesn’t mean that having large amounts present in the blood stream is desirable, or even OK. Large amounts of insulin comes with risks!

People with Type 1 diabetes know that over time weight gain is likely: this is one of the signs that the carb balance for their lifestyle is wrong.  More than weight gain, they will experience complications from the effects of the disease and the medication, and are likely to die several years before their non-diabetic counterparts.

We really need to understand that when we put food inside our bodies it has an effect.  We all have a choice whether that effect will be beneficial or harmful.  But we only have a real choice if it is based on sound knowledge of what that effect will truly be.  The role of carbs is to provide energy.  If we don’t expend energy, we don’t need many carbs.  If we don’t need many carbs but consume them anyway they will be stored – as body fat. ALWAYS! Even when someone with Type 1 diabetes resolves any blood glucose crisis with a shot of insulin, those extra carbs will still be turned into body fat.

So we have to get away from the idea that insulin can make it all alright to overdo the carbs.  It can’t, it won’t and it doesn’t!

Last week one of my RebalanceDiabetes guys, a Type 1 diabetic, reported back that since he had started to tailor his carb intake to match his lifestyle and activity levels, he has lost 6lbs of belly fat, halved his insulin use, and feels better in himself for as long as he has been diagnosed. IN JUST 2 WEEKS!

DAFNE is the acronym for “Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating”. Where carbs are concerned we have to redefine “normal eating”.  In the past few decades our lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary, yet we have failed to reduce our carb intake to match that.  We still consume carbs as if we had the activity levels of previous generations.  In fact we consume MORE carbs now – more sugars than ever are loaded into our daily diets.

We are paying the price – with our health!

Activity on the decline, carbs on the up = disease on the increase!

I am all for individuals having freedom of choice.  If you choose high carb – well OK.  If you choose to match your carbs with your lifestyle – fantastic.  But one thing is for sure – education should at least provide the proper information on which those choices can then be more intelligently made.  Let’s make our diabetes education at least responsible for providing the right advice and examples – the rest is then down to the individual.  They will make their own choices based on their own self-worth not on the basis of incorrect or incomplete information.

If our healthcare educators cannot deliver quality advice or better examples, then how do expect individuals to get it right for themselves?  There is something quite shameful about not taking the opportunity to encourage those who are motivated to take responsibility for their own health.

See for yourself what the right advice can help someone with Type 1 diabetes do for themselves: