Sweeteners & Food additives in Diabetes

Sweeteners & Food additives in Diabetes

Written by Dr Rajesh Kesari MD


The basic cause of Diabetes and many related diseases like Metabolic syndrome is the marked difference between the energy intake and expenditure, in simpler terms Food and exercise. where Food - symbolizes energy intake ; and Exercise symbolizes energy expenditure. With the increasing abundance and changing socio economic Status, the average human being has become more engrossed in taking food and has forgotten the counterbalance- exercise. Perhaps this is symbolized in our craving for sweets, sugar (and sweets) not only provides calories ( energy), it also gives a feeling of satisfaction, joy and positive emotions associated with reward. Sweets are probably used in all civilizations across cultures and times to mark and celebrate festivities, they are used to be offered to Gods as a mark of respect and gratitude. Sweets occupy an important place not only on our palate but in our cultures as well.

There are a number of Artificial sweeteners available in the market. Aspartame- 150-300 times sweeter than sugar, suspected to cause brain tumours, memory problems, many others but still accepted by millions. Saccharin 130-200 times sweeter than sugar, known to cause cancer in animals, is being used by humans for more than 100 yrs. Sucralose 600 times sweeter than sugar, discovered during the search for an effective insecticide, suspected to cause cancers and many other diseases but loved by humans as it can be baked and heated.

Is it necessary that all good things be sweet? We know already that for a Diabetic all sweet things ARE NOT GOOD!

The main emphasis in treatment of Diabetes is on changing lifestyles rather than just changing one sweet for another. Its important to change our outlook towards everything in our environment which leads to diabetes and its complications.When eating sweets we expect to eat more and also other foods associated with them, Then there are other ingredients in sweets except Sugar as well which may remain unchanged even with the use of zero calory sweeteners. As we know now Glycemic index ( the manner in which blood glucose rises after ingestion of a particular type of food) may be more important than the total calories in a particular food stuff. People with Diabetes  need to change their thinking radically; in order to effectively Control Diabetes, they need to change to seekers of 'good and healthy food' instead of tasty sugar free zero calory foods. Occassionally sweets prepared with usual sugar can also be taken to satisfy their palate (not tummies) but in small quantities and can be compensated by cutting down on something else.





Food & Diabetes

Written by Dr Rajesh Kesari MD


Diabetics with sweet tooth can make use of the plethora of Artificial sweeteners available in the markets, many of these can be used in cooking and baking as well.

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Artificial sweeteners provide the same sweet taste without the calories and rise in blood Sugar. A number of Sweeteners are available- they differ in the

Degree of sweetness- hence the quantity required to give the same sweetening effect,

Purity of taste- some sweeteners leave a bitter after taste, most of the new ones do not

Cooking use, some of the sweeteners can be used for cooking-others may chemically breakdown while they are exposed to high temperatures and may even be harmful for some patients like those suffering from phenyl ketonuria.

Artificial sweeteners are safe and do not cause any harm if taken in the recomended quantities- since they are hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar- the amount which can be consumed per day is always less than the upper permissible limit.

Most popular sweeteners may be safe for consumptions within the advised maximum limits


Aspartame is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, but has very little calories comparitively- Its in use since past 20-30 yrs. Aspartame should not be heated as it breaks down and loses its sweetening properties, and may also be harmful. Aspartame is not recommended for Phenylketanurics. Aspartame may also leave a bitter aftertaste so its usually blended with other artificial sweeteners.

Its widely used by food and beverage industry in sweetening food and beverages.

Its available both as tablet and powder form.


There have been concerns about the safety of Aspartame from various quarters, including the possibility of Brain Tumours, being caused by continued intake of Aspartame. There is sufficient evidence both vindicating and absolving this molecule- as always the absolving (justifying) studies and decisions are always linked somehow to the interested parties.

Sucralose is ripping away the popularity of aspartame in recent times since its better tolerance to heat and safety profile.

Popular brands

NutraSweet, Equal, Diet Coke & Pepsi


300-700 times sweeter than Sugar, it was discovered way back in 1879 and still continues to be popular. It may leave a bitter aftertaste- but when blended with other sweeteners this drawback may be corrected.


It is safe for consumption in humans even though some animal studies ( Rat) have shown adverse effects (Bladder cancer).

Saccharin does not contain any calories. Maximum daily intake should preferably not increase 5 mg/kg of body weight.

It is available in tablet, powder form as well as liquid Suspension. It can be used in cooking, baking and making preserves like jams etc.. it has a long shelf life and does not loose its properties when heated.

Popular Brands

 Sweet and Low, Sweet Twin, Sweet'N Low, and Necta Sweet.

Acesulfame- K

Acesulfame potassium is as potent as Aspartame- 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar, it does not contain any calories. If used intensively it may result in a bitter aftertaste.Its usually blended with other sweeteners to give enhanced sugarlike sweetness.

Maximum daily intake should not exceed 15 mg/Kg of body weight 


Acesulfame has been approved by FDA and may be considered safe, even though some reports have emerged linking it with cancer.

popular brands

Sunette or Sweet One


Sucralose is about 600 times as sweet as sugar and is gaining wide popularity while leaving all other sweeteners behind. It can be used in baking and cooking , it does not loose its sweetening properties when heated and has a long shelf life. Sucralose does not leave any aftertaste as well.

Maximum daily intake advised by USFDA should not exceed 5 mg/Kg body weight.


Even though at usual doses of consumption it is considered safe, Sucralose has caused concern range from health to environmental hazards but none of the studies have conclusively proven any adverse effects of Sucralose at currently used doses,

Common Brands



Stevia is a plant originally grown in South America, its leaves, stems and other parts impart sweet taste and have been used by locals since ages, Even though it was discovered as early as 1898, its still to catch up in the sweeteners market. Some studies have even shown beneficial effect of stevia leaves on Diabetes and Hypertension. Stevia has been used most extensively in japan, where even Coca Cola uses it to sweeten some of its beverages.


Stevia leaves and extracts are generally safe. Even though it has not been approved in US and EU as an sugar substitute. They have been used in Japan since 1970, no adveres effects have been noted since such a long time.

Common Brands 

Rebia, Truvia


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Food & Diabetes

Written by Dr Rajesh Kesari MD


Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Food of Diabeticsvitamins

Vitamins and minerals are important elements of a balanced diet for any human being.

Vitamins are organic substances present in our food that cannot be synthesized by the body itself, these are required in small quantities for normal functioning of our body. Their deficiency causes specific diseases and syptom complexes.

All vitamins are required by Diabetics just for good health, but Some vitamins have a special role to play in Diabetes and are discussed here:

Vitamin B12 


 Vitamin B 12 is of great importance for the Diabetics

It is responsible for the proper functioning and growth of nerve cells, it also affects the metabolism of lipids and its deficiency may lead to increased atherosclerosis and chances of Heart attack and stroke, through improper regulation of Homocysteine levels in blood.

Vit B12 in not present in vegetables and fruits , hence animal foods like milk,  dairy products, or meat and poultry are essential to supply the required amounts of nutrients.

Deficiency in Diabetics may aggravate Peripheral and Central Neuropathies ( Complications of Diabetes). Vitamin B 12 is also used for treatment of Diabetic Neuropathy.

 Click below to read more

 Actions of Vitamin B 12...

 Symptoms of Deficiency of Vitamin B 12...

 Causes and Treatment of Deficiency...

 Dietary sources of Vitamin B  12...


Vitamin B3

  Niacin aind Nicotinamide - both have the same activity as that of vit B3, These help in lowering total cholesterol and the harmful low densitycholesterol, Niacin has many other vital effects inthe metabolism other than lowering lipids, many of the by products formed during conversion of niacin to nicotinamide ( which is the active form of hormone) are essential in basic chemical reactions which deliver energy to the living cells. Niacin has an important function of increasing HDL (the protective) Cholesterol.


 Click below to read more

 Deficiency of Vit B3...

 Causes and treatment of Vit B3 deficiency...

 Dietary sources of Vit B3...

 Flushing with Niacin..

Vitamin C

 Ascorbic acid - the source of Vit C was one of the first vitamins to be named as a 'vitamin'. Vit C has multiple important functions in our bodies, it helps in building of collagen- which acts as the matrix of the body, Vit C is also a very potent Antioxidant, it scavenges the free radicals which are responsible for many complications of diabetes like Atherosclerosis and predisposition to Heart Attacks and Stroke. Excessive free radicals may also result in diseases like cancer. Vit C has other important functions in metabolism as well.


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Effects of Vitamin C...

Deficiency of Vit C...

Causes and Treatment of Vit C Deficiency...

Dietary sources of Vitamin C...

Significance of Vitamin C in Diabetes...

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays important role in development of Bones and absorption of minerals like calcium and phosphrus from the food we consume not only this Vitamin D has other important roles in treatment of cancer and helps immunity. Vitamin D may help decrease insulin resistance and prevent onset of Diabetes as shown in some studies... 


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Effects of Vitamin D...

Deficiency of Vitamin D... 

Dietary sources of vitamin D...

Diabetes and Vitamin D...


Deficiency of Vitamins may lead to disease- like night blindness due to deficiency of Vit A, Beriberi caused due to deficiency of Vit B1, osteoporosis and osteomalacia caused due to deficiency of Vit D, Scurvy due to deficiency of Vit C, Anemia and Neuropathy due to deficiency of Vit B6 and B12