Best sweeteners to beat blood sugar spikes

If you suffer from diabetes, you know the daily struggle of balancing the foods you want to eat with the effect they will have on your blood sugar.

And, nowhere is this more difficult than when it comes to choosing sweeteners for your food and drinks.

You may have even turned to artificial sweeteners and diet drinks to lower your blood sugar — many people do, often at their doctor’s advice.

But, these bring a whole host of health concerns.

In fact, according to scientific studies, just one of these drinks a day may be enough to significantly increase your risk for a number of health problems.

Related: A can a day triples your stroke risk

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Artificial sweetener dangers

Let’s take a look at the damage artificial sweeteners can do to your body:

#1 – Weight Gain

In one study that followed both men and women over a seven to eight year period, those who drank artificially-sweetened beverages experienced significantly higher weight gain than those who avoided these types of drinks.

And, another study demonstrated that the intake of artificially-sweetened beverages was associated with increased body mass index and increased body fat percentage in males and females at a two-year follow-up.

Related: To gain weight, drink diet sodas

#2 – Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease

Studies show that the risk for coronary heart disease is significantly elevated in women who consume more than two artificially-sweetened beverages per day or more than two sugar-sweetened beverages per day – making artificial sweeteners just as bad for you as sugar.

And, consuming at least one artificially-sweetened beverage daily significantly elevated the risk for hypertension for women in a number of studies.

Related: Your heart on sugar — the truth revealed

#3 – Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels increases your risk of stroke, heart disease and other diseases. Recent studies suggest that those who drink artificially-sweetened beverages may have double the risk of metabolic syndrome, compared with non-consumers.

Related: What happens when you give up sugar for 9 days

#4 – Diabetes

You may be surprised to hear that those artificial sweeteners you’ve been using to try to control your blood sugar have also been linked to the development of diabetes, the very condition you’re trying to control.

In fact, in a European study, the risk for developing type 2 diabetes more than doubled for participants in the highest quartile of diet beverage consumption, compared with non-consumers.

Related: 20 symptoms that could disappear when you ditch diet drinks

Choosing safe sweeteners

So, with the many dangers of artificial sweeteners, what can you use to sweeten your food and drinks without worsening your blood sugar?

Here are a few good options:

  • Sugar – Think that just because you have diabetes you have to avoid sugar completely? Think again. You can have small amounts of the sweet stuff. Just be sure to only use a little.
  • Stevia – Probably the best choice of sweetener out there, stevia is all natural and has little to no impact on your blood sugar. And, since it’s much sweeter than regular sugar, a little goes a long way. Plus: Stevia helps beat back symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
  • Sugar Alcohols – Sugar alcohols, or polyols, are derived from the natural fibers in fruits and vegetables. Examples include xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol. They do have some effect on your blood glucose and may have a laxative effect and cause indigestion, bloating, diarrhea, and headaches in some people; so see how you respond to a small amount in your diet.
  • Fruit – Fresh fruits are a great way to sweeten you food, while getting more vitamins and fiber in your diet. Try berries or dates with your oatmeal, unsweetened applesauce in plain Greek yogurt or frozen bananas blended with cocoa powder to replace ice cream. This fruity trick can help you fight blood sugar spikes.

Don’t let diabetes steal the sweetness from your life. Use the natural sweeteners above to safely enjoy your simple pleasures.

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Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.