What sugar substitutes can be used for type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

Many people cannot imagine their life without sugar. It is used not only as a sweet addition to drinks, but also for cooking dishes and sauces. However, scientists have long proved that this product does not bring any benefit to the human body, moreover, it rather has a negative effect on health, so it is advisable to completely abandon sugar. As a rule, people with weight loss and those who have type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus or gestational diabetes think about how to replace sugar. In fact, there are many analogs in the world, they are both artificial and natural, they affect the body of a healthy or sick person in different ways, bringing benefits or harm. These include:

  • stevia,
  • sorbitol,
  • beekeeping products.

Sugar substitutes began to appear actively in the early 1900s. Until now, many experts argue about whether it is advisable to use them as a sweetener. Nevertheless, modern sweeteners practically do not harm the body; they can be used by many people who, for one reason or another, should not consume sugar. The ability to replace sugar with a less harmful analogue allows them to lead a fulfilling lifestyle.

It is very important that the sugar substitute is low on the glycemic index and low in calories. For people who want to lose weight with diabetes, different glycemic index and number of calories are prescribed, so not all sweeteners are suitable for people equally.

The GI indicates how a food or drink will affect the increase in sugar content. With diabetes mellitus, from foods containing complex carbohydrates that saturate the body for a long time and are slowly absorbed, it is useful to use those with a glycemic index of less than 50 units. Sugar has a GI of 70 units. This is a fairly high value; with diabetes mellitus and diet, such an indicator is unacceptable. It is advisable to replace sugar with similar products with a low glycemic index and low calorie content. Sugar substitutes such as sorbitol or xylitol contain about 5 kilocalories and a low glycemic index. Therefore, such a sugar substitute is ideal for diabetes and diet. List of the most common sugar substitutes:

  • sorbitol;
  • fructose;
  • stevia;
  • dried fruits;
  • beekeeping products;
  • extract of licorice root.

Not all of the above sugar substitutes are of natural origin. For example, stevia is a natural component made from sweet herbs, therefore, in addition to its taste properties, it has useful qualities and has a beneficial effect on the human body with diabetes mellitus.

In order to understand whether one or another sugar substitute can be used, it is necessary to carefully study the characteristics of each of them.

Sugar substitute for diabetes

In diabetes mellitus, it is not recommended to add foods with easily digestible carbohydrates to the diet. Sugar is on the list of prohibited foods. Therefore, it is important for diabetics to find a safe sugar substitute that will prevent changes in blood glucose concentration. As noted earlier, there are artificial and natural sugar substitutes from which everyone can choose the right product for themselves. Diabetics should be especially careful when choosing a sweetener instead of sugar. Of course, doctors recommend giving preference to natural substitutes such as xylitol, sorbitol, or fructose as they are chemically free. However, among the synthetic sugar substitutes, there are those that do not pose a threat to the body of a diabetic, for example, sucralose. The choice of a suitable remedy is best done under the guidance of a doctor. Mainly, when choosing a product, you need to pay attention to its characteristics so that it does not cause even more harm: you should study the instructions for use, take into account contraindications, possible side effects and do not use more sweetener than required. Sweeteners are great for diabetes mellitus because they hardly change blood glucose levels. Thanks to this, the diabetic does not have to worry about the increase in the concentration of sugar in the blood. Also, unlike sugar, its analogs do not destroy the walls of blood vessels, do not affect the functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Sugar substitutes will fully participate in the metabolic process, but they will not change it at all. For diabetes, the following sugar substitutes are recommended:

  1. Natural – they were obtained with the help of heat treatment of certain plants, which in no way diminishes their individual taste characteristics. These sweeteners produce little energy. It should be borne in mind that in case of diabetes mellitus, it is not recommended to consume more than 4 grams of the substitute per day. Obese diabetics should consult a physician before consuming such products. 
  2. Artificial – in the process of disintegration of these substances, energy is released that is not absorbed by the body. They are much sweeter than glucose, so a diabetic does not have to consume large amounts of these substances to meet their own needs, which makes them an excellent substitute for sugar. The calorie content of artificial substitutes is zero. 

The benefits and harms of sweeteners

By itself, sugar does not provide any benefit to the body. If you consume it daily in large quantities, there is a risk of developing diabetes mellitus and caries, disrupting metabolism and gaining excess weight. That is why sweeteners, unlike other additives such as preservatives, food colors and flavors, are considered healthy foods that do not cause serious complications. For example, various sweeteners are often used to prepare dietary, low-calorie meals and chewing gums, which the manufacturer presents to the buyer as a safe and healthy product. However, not all sweeteners are completely safe for your health. Synthetic, that is, artificial substitutes for sugar (aspartame, saccharin and succlamate) are dangerous for both healthy and sick people. Their only plus is that they are not loaded with calories, but even this quality of these sweeteners can lead to obesity. It is better to give preference to natural sweeteners (bee products, fructose, xylitol and sorbitol). Their main disadvantage lies in their calorie content, so they, like all sweets, can harm the figure. In addition, some of them cause side effects with prolonged use or exceeding the required dose. Diseases caused by sweeteners:

  1. Aspartame – Most often used as a sugar substitute. After use, the risk of dizziness, nausea, headaches, allergies, sleep problems, depression, digestive and palpitations is increased. In addition, aspartame increases appetite. 
  2. Saccharin – May cause tumors to form. 
  3. Suklamat – provokes an allergic reaction. 
  4. Xylitol and sorbitol – have a choleretic and laxative effect. Xylitol can cause bladder cancer, although unlike sugar it does not damage teeth. 
  5. Fructose – destabilizes the acid-base balance. 

In addition, the human body cannot fully assimilate synthetic sugar substitutes and remove them in the usual way. The best sugar substitute is stevia. It is a natural product made from the leaves of a perennial plant that is sweeter than sugar. It is worth noting that stevia is easy to grow on your own at home. The herb is saturated with vitamins and various microelements that have a beneficial effect on the human body. There are only 18 kilocalories per 100 grams of stevia, and the glycemic index does not exceed 10 units. It is stevia that contributes to the improved absorption of the incoming glucose, thereby lowering the sugar concentration. The sweetener rejuvenates the skin, strengthens the immune system, stabilizes high blood pressure and fights off parasite-kandits that have entered the body. The stevia plant itself leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, so special processing is required. Stovia can be found in stores with vanilla or chocolate flavor. It is available in both tablets and powder, so it is convenient to use it as powdered sugar. This sweetener is excellent for type 1, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. However, the positive properties do not detract from the disadvantages of stevia. For example, some people may develop an allergy to this product, so it is advisable to add it to the menu gradually. And when combined with milk or fermented milk products, there is a risk of getting diarrhea.

It is dangerous for hypotonic people to use this herb as a sweetener, since it slightly lowers blood pressure.

Artificial sweeteners

The use of synthetic sugar substitutes is not prohibited, however, you should agree on their intake with your doctor and strictly follow the recommendations. Today, several types of artificial sweeteners are used as a sweetener.


It appeared not so long ago, it is made from ordinary sugar. Of all the artificial substitutes for sucralose, it is considered the safest. It is many times sweeter than sugar, tastes like sugar , and has zero calories. The main advantage of this substitute is that it does not in any way affect the concentration of sugar in the blood, that is, the glycemic index is also zero. Sucralose has been repeatedly tested to prove its safety for all groups of people, including children and pregnant women. A safe daily intake of sucralose is 15 mg / kg body weight. The body absorbs only 15% of the product and completely removes it from the body.


It is often used instead of sugar, but experts still cannot agree on whether it is harmful. Aspartame is several times sweeter than sugar, almost not saturated with calories. It cannot be used for cooking dishes that require prolonged heat treatment, as it decomposes when exposed to high temperatures.


Not loaded with calories. Allowed for cooking. The daily intake is 11 mg / kg of body weight. Currently, cyclamate is actively used in Europe and Asia. Most often, it is combined with saccharin, which improves the taste of the sweetener and at the same time reduces the required dose of the substitute.

Azelsufam K

It has almost no calories and is suitable for cooking. The body completely removes it unchanged. The use as a sugar substitute is approved in the USA, Russia and many European countries. The daily dose is 15 mg / kg of body weight. Only a doctor can tell you which synthetic sweeteners you can use and which you can’t.


Fructose, contained in vegetables, fruits and honey, is also a natural sweetener. It is about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, although they almost do not differ in calorie content, so for 1 gram of fructose there are 3.7 kilocalories, and sugar – 1 gram – 4 kilocalories, but if you add it to dishes, you can reduce the total calorie content. You should consume about 30-45 grams of fructose per day. Fructose will be most beneficial to the body if consumed in its natural form, namely in vegetables and fruits. Fructose can be used in diabetes mellitus, since it has a low glycemic index (19 U) in comparison with sugar (70 U) and does not cause a sharp increase in blood glucose. In addition, it perfectly tones the body and quickly restores it after physical or mental stress. Suitable not only for diabetics, but also for athletes, as well as people who prefer a rich, active lifestyle. Some experts argue that fructose leads to excess weight. However, recent studies have shown that when fructose replaces other carbohydrates with similar calories, it has no more effect on body weight or blood triglyceride levels than others. For example, consuming large amounts of fructose, glucose, or saturated fat leads to the same increase in liver fat concentration. If you consume too much fructose and glucose, it will reduce your liver’s insulin sensitivity. Thus, excess weight does not come from fructose, but from a large number of calories consumed. Fructose does not cause significant harm to the body and is great for people of all ages. It is used for cooking, especially if you want to emphasize the aroma of fruits and berries. But it should be borne in mind that fructose is by no means a dietary product, so you need to control the amount of sweetener consumed and not exceed the required dose.


Honey has been used since ancient times as a medicine for the treatment of various diseases, it is widely used in traditional medicine recipes. This beekeeping product contains organic and inorganic acids, a large amount of vitamins, minerals, phytoncides and proteins. Depending on the type of honey, its composition may differ slightly, but at the same time it will not lose its healing properties. If you want to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, you should give preference to varieties with a minimum sucrose content. To find out whether it is included in the composition is quite simple – beekeeping products with a high content of sucrose after a while begin to crystallize, that is, they become sugar-coated. With diabetes mellitus of any type, such honey is strictly contraindicated. Typically, 100 grams of honey contains about 327 calories, the exact amount is determined by the type of product. Many varieties have a glycemic index of less than 50 units. However, honey is much sweeter than white sugar, and its color can vary from light yellow to dark brown. The main thing is to know exactly which varieties of honey have a low glycemic index, these include the following beekeeping products:

  • acacia honey – 35 PIECES;
  • honey from pine buds and shoots – 25 U;
  • eucalyptus honey – 50 units;
  • linden honey – 55 PIECES

These varieties are perfect as a sugar substitute and will only benefit the body. Each of the types of beekeeping products has certain positive properties, so it is advisable to alternate the use of one or another variety. Acacia honey is considered an ideal analogue of sugar, it contains a minimum amount of glucose. It has the following healing effects on the body:

  • thanks to malic, lactic and citric acid, it improves metabolism;
  • lowers blood pressure;
  • increases hemoglobin levels, reducing the risk of anemia;
  • acacia honey contains a minimum amount of fructose and glucose, which makes it affordable for diabetics;
  • increases the body’s resistance to infections and pathogenic bacteria;
  • restores the state of the body after prolonged acute respiratory infections and acute respiratory viral infections, even for children under two years old;
  • acacia honey is used to make eye drops, inhalation solutions and healing creams for burns;
  • promotes vasodilation, normalizes the process of creating and developing blood.

Pine honey is known for its rich composition, which contains iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, flavonoids, organic acids and antioxidants. Due to iron, long-term use of honey will serve as an excellent way to prevent anemia, and also stabilize the process of hematopoiesis. Thanks to antioxidants, harmful substances are removed from the body and the aging process stops. Flavonoids fight pathogenic microflora in the intestines and stabilize the gastrointestinal tract. A high potassium content has a positive effect on the nervous system, and sleep problems disappear. The main advantage of eucalyptus honey is the destruction of pathogenic microflora on the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract. Doctors recommend using eucalyptus honey as a sweetener in autumn and winter, which will help to effectively protect the body from viral infections. Especially eucalyptus honey is useful for diseases of the upper respiratory tract. A cup of tea with this variety will temporarily relieve inflammation and help you feel better.


Saccharin is a low-calorie substance in the form of colorless crystals, although it is available in tablet form for culinary purposes. It is 300-500 times sweeter than sugar, does not contain carbohydrates and is poorly soluble in water and alcohol. The body does not assimilate saccharin and naturally removes it unchanged. You can consume 5 mg / kg of body weight per day . In the 1970s, experiments were carried out on rats, according to which it was concluded that saccharin is harmful, since then people have argued a lot about whether it is possible to eat it, however, the results of this study have now been refuted. The sugar substitute is used for making marmalade, preserves, carbonated drinks, juices, jellies, baked goods and many other confectionery products. Saccharin is also widely used in pharmaceuticals. However, the sweetener does not have any nutritional properties. Currently, saccharin is used in limited quantities, but other sweeteners are produced on its basis. And for the preparation of drinks, mixtures are used, since saccharin itself gives the product a metallic taste. Sometimes, after consuming saccharin, allergies or photosensitization occurs. If you are sensitive to food additives, the use of this sweetener is not recommended.

Saccharin satisfies hunger well, but does not bring any benefit to the body.

Sweeteners during pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman needs a special diet, since she has to take care not only of her health, but also of the condition of the child. We have to limit the consumption of a number of products, namely food and drinks, which contain synthetic analogs of sugar. Today, large quantities of sugar substitutes are used in products such as:

  • candies;
  • beverages;
  • confectionery;
  • sweet dishes.

Calorie-rich sweeteners are allowed in small quantities for pregnant women only if they do not get fat after consuming the sweetener. Sometimes women are completely contraindicated to use such a sweetener, as a rule, this applies to those who have one of the types of diabetes mellitus or have an insulin-resistant body. During pregnancy , the following types of sugar substitutes can be added to food:  

  1. Acesulfame potassium – a small amount is recommended. 
  2. Aspartame is the safest for a pregnant woman. It can also be used while breastfeeding. However, the substance is prohibited for pregnant women whose blood contains high amounts of phenylalanine. 
  3. Sucralose – does not in any way affect the concentration of glucose in the blood and does not add extra calories to food. Like aspartame, it is approved for breastfeeding. 

During pregnancy, two popular sweeteners are strictly prohibited – saccharin and cyclamate. Saccharin is contraindicated because it accumulates in the fetus and easily enters the placenta. Cyclamate is dangerous for both the mother and the baby, as it increases the risk of cancer. Based on the above, we can conclude that, if necessary, to abandon sugar, it is more expedient to replace it with other sweeteners, preferably natural ones, since it does not bring benefits to the body, has an increased calorie content and glycemic index.

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