By: Ben Eastman
New findings on the consumption of certain sugars may lead to greater dietary flexibility, at least for a small subset of people with type 2 diabetes.
A study published in the November 1996 issue of Diabetes Care showed that sucrose (table sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar) proved to have no greater effect on blood glucose control than comparable caloric amounts of starch only for non-obese people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, Doctors warn.
According to the study, “The majority of the studies focusing on the influence of dietary fructose on the glucose metabolism of diabetic patients have demonstrated either beneficial or neutral effects.” Recently, the same effects have been observed with sucrose consumption as well. The November study goes on to say that fructose might even be considered beneficial for people with diabetes because it is absorbed by the intestines more slowly than glucose, is sweeter than sucrose, and the first steps of its metabolism do not require insulin action.
Researchers in Brazil gave a group of non-obese people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes one of three diets; either high in starch, fructose or sucrose. In the high-sucrose and high-fructose diets, the sugars accounted for approximately 20 percent of the subjects’ daily caloric intake. A normal daily intake of these sugars would only be approximately six to nine percent of the daily calorie intake of a person without diabetes.
Despite the extremely large amounts of sucrose and fructose ingested, the study claims to have found no significant differences between after-meal insulin levels for these subjects and those subjects on the high-starch diet. There was also no difference found in overall glycemic control.
The study warns, however, that these findings are only applicable to well controlled non-obese type 2s and that even they should be cautious. Individual differences in metabolic rates should be considered with a health care professional before calculating dietary modifications. Blood sugar levels need to be continually checked (as always) to determine if one’s program is working well. The study adds, “Ã‰ (non-obese well controlled type 2s) should avoid the potential danger of adding calories from sugar-containing foods, instead of substituting them.”