Have you ever wondered if diabetics should completely avoid sugar? Or is there a specific amount that is suited for them? Managing diabetes involves careful consideration of dietary choices, including sugar consumption. To understand the sugar consumption in diabetes, we spoke to our expert Dr Harika Uppalapati, Consultant, General Physician, Manipal Hospital, Vijayawada, who shed light on the same.
Factors Affecting Daily Sugar Intake for People with Diabetes
“Despite the common belief that people with diabetes must completely avoid sugar, the reality is a bit complicated. The amount of sugar a person with diabetes can have each day depends on several factors, such as the type of diabetes, overall health, and individualised dietary plans”, highlighted Dr Uppalapati.
As per findings from The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, it was estimated that in 2021, approximately 101 million individuals had diabetes, while the number of individuals with prediabetes reached 136 million.
Carbohydrates, Sugar, and Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetes
“For individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, maintaining stable blood sugar levels is important to prevent complications”, said Dr Uppalapati.
She added, “This involves monitoring carbohydrate intake since carbohydrates significantly impact blood sugar levels. Sugar, as a type of carbohydrate, can lead to a rapid increase in blood glucose levels, making it an important concern.”
Guidelines for Sugar Intake
Dr Uppalapati emphasised, “The American Diabetes Association recommends that carbohydrates, including sugar, typically constitute around 45-60% of the daily caloric intake for individuals with diabetes. This means that sugar can be included in the diet, but it should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced meal plan.”
Specific recommendations for daily sugar intake often come from medical and nutritional organisations and vary based on individual health conditions and diabetes type.
She added, “World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines offer more general advice, focusing on broader nutritional recommendations and guidance on managing sugar and carbohydrates as part of comprehensive diabetes care. Personalised dietary guidance from healthcare professionals, particularly registered dietitians, is important to optimise blood sugar control.”
Role of Glycaemic Index in Sugar Consumption
One approach to incorporating sugar into the diet is to consider the Glycaemic Index (GI) of foods. Dr Uppalapati said, “Foods with a low GI release glucose gradually, preventing rapid blood sugar spikes. Sugary foods with a lower GI, such as whole fruits and whole grains, are better choices than high-GI items like sugary drinks and candies.”
She added, “It is also essential to evaluate the total daily intake of carbohydrates and sugar within the context of an individual's dietary plan. A registered dietitian can assist in creating a personalised meal plan that aligns with specific diabetes management goals, accounting for factors like age, activity level, medications, and health needs.”
Dr Uppalapati concluded, “The daily sugar intake for individuals with diabetes varies from person to person and depends on various factors. Consultation with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is advised to receive personalised guidance on managing sugar intake and developing a balanced meal plan that supports effective diabetes management.”
[Disclaimer: The information in this article is shared by a registered healthcare professional and is for informational purposes only. Do not substitute this information with medical treatment. Consult with your expert for a dietary plan tailored to your needs and body type.]