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Can diabetics eat sugar?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Can diabetics eat sugar?

Question: My husband has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and he tells me he is still allowed to eat foods with sugar in them. Is this correct? I always thought people with diabetes could not eat sugar.

Answer: When a person has diabetes, their body has difficulty controlling blood sugar levels, which if left unmanaged can lead to serious health consequences.

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It is because of this that treatment for diabetes focuses on maintaining blood sugar levels at as normal a level as possible. This can be achieved through a variety of methods including dietary changes, medication and insulin therapy.

When it comes to diet, carbohydrate in foods is digested by the body and broken down into simple sugars, which then make their way into the blood, which carries them to where they're needed in the body.

So to help maintain blood sugar levels, foods rich in carbohydrates (such as breads, cereals, pasta, starchy vegetables, fruit, etc) are recommended to be spread evenly across the day in meals and snacks to help ensure a steady flow of carbohydrates.

In addition to this, minimally processed versions of these foods are recommended, as the carbohydrates they contain tend to be digested at a slower rate, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Table sugar is a type of refined carbohydrate that contains no other nutrients and is digested relatively quickly.

It can be included in the diet of people with diabetes, however large amounts will have a big impact on blood sugar levels and in addition, don't provide the nutrients minimally processed foods do.

Sugar can be included in the diet and is found naturally in healthy foods like fruit, but as with all carbohydrate rich foods, care should be taken to ensure these foods are only eaten in appropriate amounts.

Related: Preventing diabetes

As everyone's needs differ, it is important to sit down with your doctor or an accredited practicing dietician, who can guide you and your husband through his individual needs.

This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.

Video: The pre-diabetes diet

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