Diabetes, glucosamine, fibres and sugar substitutesFind out if glucosamine, fibres and sugar substitutes have an impact on blood sugar levels and if they’re good options for people with diabetes.
Does fibre help control blood sugar levels?
Dietary fibre, which is derived from plants, is not readily absorbed during the digestion process, and therefore does not cause much variation in blood sugar levels.
There are two types of fibre—soluble and insoluble. The foods we eat usually contain a mix of both types.
Soluble fibre forms a gel-like substance when it enters into contact with liquid in the stomach. The fibre delays and slows down the movement of stomach contents to the intestines. Since the stomach stays full longer, the brain interprets this as meaning your hunger is satisfied, and signals you to not overeat, helping control your weight.
For people with diabetes, soluble fibre is also beneficial because it helps balance blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates. You need to consume a large quantity of soluble fibre (25 to 50 grams) a day to achieve this effect.
Sources of soluble fibre:
- Legumes, lentils
- Psyllium (Metamucil®)
- Nuts, seeds, flaxseed (ground), chia
- Fruits (apples, pears, strawberries, oranges, etc.)
- Vegetables (beans, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, etc.)
Insoluble fibre is also excellent for satisfying your hunger and helping control your weight. Since it absorbs water in the stomach, your stomach contents expand, which sends a message of fullness to your brain. Insoluble fibre also helps maintain regularity in digestive transit and prevents constipation.
Sources of insoluble fibre:
- Wheat bran
- Fruits and vegetables
- Foods made with whole grains (pasta, bread)
- Brown rice
- Nuts and seeds
If you want to increase your consumption of fibre, do so gradually to give your body time to adapt. It is also important to stay hydrated for the fibre to be effective.
If you have questions about nutrition, ask your pharmacist.
Is glucosamine a source of glucose?As the name suggests, glucosamine is derived from a part of glucose associated with glutamine. This glucose, however, is not absorbed by the body, since glucosamine cannot be broken down into its two components (glucose and glutamine). Since it stays bonded, no glucose is released into the bloodstream, and consequently, there is no increase in blood sugar levels (glycemia). Glucosamine is not contraindicated for diabetics when taken in supplement form at the recommended dose (1500 mg once daily of glucosamine sulfate).
If you have diabetes and are thinking about taking glucosamine or any other natural health product, consult your pharmacist first. They are the most easy-to-reach healthcare professional who can answer your questions and ensure the product you are considering is compatible with your health and your medications.
Are sugar substitutes a good option for diabetics?
Sugar substitutes are sweeteners, which means substances that taste sweet but that provide little or no calories compared to natural sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.). There are various kinds:
- Stevia (and its glycosides)
- Polyalcohols or sugar alcohols (erythritol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol)
- Acesulfame potassium
Some sugar substitutes may be purchased at the grocery store or drugstore (in packets or bulk), while others are added to food products by the manufacturer.
When consumed in moderation, within the limits set by Health Canada, sugar substitutes are not harmful to your health.
For diabetics, sugar substitutes can be a good option because they have little or no effect on blood sugar levels. In addition, they can help reduce calorie intake and thereby help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. It is worth noting that they cannot be used to increase blood sugar levels when they fall too low (hypoglycemia).
However, since sugar substitutes are very sweet, substituting them for sugar will only encourage your sweet tooth. Plus, these products are often used in foods that are of little nutritional value and are high in calories, which defeats the whole purpose if your goal is to lose weight.
In short, if you are diabetic, it’s best to reduce your sugar consumption gradually and develop a taste for less sweet options.
Questions about sugar or your diet in relation to diabetes? Your pharmacist will have the answer!
The pharmacy services presented in this section are offered by pharmacist owners who are affiliated with PROXIM. The pharmacists are solely responsible for the professional activities carried out during the practice of pharmacy.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.