Patients with type 2 diabetes are often advised to cut out sucrose (table sugar) all together. However, in recent years this traditional advice has been questioned by some researchers who suggest that moderate amounts of sugar can be safely consumed as part of the diet of patients with diabetes. Now a new study has been published that is consistent with this revised approach. It showed that patients who increased their daily sugar intake (in the form of carrot cake) but maintained a stable body weight, showed no adverse changes in their blood glucose.
The study was conducted by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at London's Hammersmith Hospital. Three slices of carrot cake were added to the daily diets of nine, overweight type 2 diabetes patients over 24 days (bringing their daily total to 88g or 18 teaspoons of sugar). Consumption of the carrot cake slices was evenly distributed across the day. Several measurements were recorded at the beginning and end of the study, including the patients' weight, blood sugar (glucose) levels, cholesterol levels, and insulin sensitivity (which is a measure of how well the body responds to the hormone insulin).
Professor Gary Frost, who led the study, explained 'In this study, the energy intake of these patients was balanced to their body weight, and their sucrose intake was spread evenly over a day. Correspondingly, they did not gain weight or show an increase in blood glucose levels at the end of the study; in addition, their cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity did not change.' He added 'the results of this small, short-term study support other scientific studies, which suggest that there could be more flexibility with sucrose in the diets of patients with type 2 diabetes. There is evidence from other studies (reviewed by Kirk et al 2000) that inclusion of sucrose may help people to lower their fat intake, which in turn may be beneficial to overall health'.
Professor Frost continued 'This research is in line with the dietary guidelines set by the American Diabetes Association (2007), which state that sucrose does not cause a greater increase in blood glucose levels than an equivalent amount of starch. Therefore sucrose or sucrose-containing foods should be treated similarly to other carbohydrate containing foods by people with diabetes; either substituted for other carbohydrates in the total daily intake, or managed with appropriate diabetes medication.