The Good Diabetic Sugar
Managing blood sugar levels with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is often a difficult task for many diabetics. Balancing sugar/carbohydrate intake with level of activity and insulin responsiveness requires never-ending monitoring to ensure that blood sugar levels stay within a normal range. Part of the problem is that much of the modern American diet is literally super-sweetened with sugars; or, as the old kid’s TV cereal commercials used to advertise—“Sugar Charged!” As such, diabetics are typically advised to avoid all sugars or limit them as much as possible in their diet. However, this advice may change slightly. In a recent study that re-analyzed a number of previous diabetes studies, researchers have found that one sugar—fructose—may actually be beneficial to diabetics.
In a recent article published in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers believe that in the case of the sugar fructose, it’s not the sugar that is so bad, but the fact that people eat too much of it rather than exercise moderation.
"Attention needs to go back where it belongs, which is on the concept of moderation," said Adrian Cozma, the lead author of the paper. "We're seeing that there may be benefit if fructose wasn't being consumed in such large amounts," says Cozma. "All negative attention on fructose-related harm draws further away from the issue of eating too many calories."
Cozma’s colleague and co-author of the paper Dr. John Sievenpiper concurs saying that, "Over the last decade, there have been connections made between fructose intake and rates of obesity. However, this research suggests that the problem is likely one of overconsumption, not fructose."
Fructose, a natural simple sugar in fruit and honey that gives many species of apples their natural sweet taste is combined with glucose to make the common table sugar sucrose and is also used to make high-fructose corn syrups found primarily in soft drinks.
In the study, Cozma and colleagues mined through the medical databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library for relevant diabetes trials that lasted at least a week or longer where the study participants were fed diets supplemented with fructose that had the same amount of calories as diets without fructose.
What they found was that from statistical analysis of measured glycated blood proteins in 18 trials involving 209 participants who had either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, that the fructose supplemented diets significantly improved the participants’ blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, the researchers also found that the fructose supplemented diet did not adversely affect weight gain, blood pressure or cholesterol levels and that the improvement in blood sugar was equivalent to what can be gained in taking some diabetic prescription drugs.
However, the authors caution that their results are based on relatively small-scale studies and that larger and longer fructose feeding trials assessing both possible glycemic benefit and adverse metabolic effects are required to confirm that fructose may be more beneficial than harmful to patients with diabetes.
Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile
Reference: “Effect of Fructose on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials” Diabetes Care July 2012 vol. 35 no. 7 1611-1620; Adrian I. Cozma et al.