A Yale University study suggests not all sugars are created equal. For someone with diabetes, this study can add confusion about making the best diet choices.
Dr. Robert Sherwin, professor of endocrinology at Yale, studied brains of non-obese people using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Dr. Sherwin wondered how brains responded after a participant ate glucose or fructose. The study determined, "Ingestion of glucose reduced cerebral blood flow and activity in brain regions that regulate appetite, but fructose did not. Ingestion of glucose also produced increased feelings of satisfaction and fullness, but fructose did not.”
This means eating glucose made participants feel full, while fructose revved up the appetite — an unhealthy side effect, especially for diabetics.
An Associated Press report about the study explained that table sugar is half fructose and half glucose, while high-fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. While small differences may not register to the layperson, the evidence is in our metabolism — the chemical change from a food source to energy — says the study.
Dr. Sherwin continued “drinking glucose turns off or suppresses the activity of areas of the brain that are critical for reward and desire for food. We don’t see those changes. As a result, the desire to eat continues, it isn't turned off.”
Reaching for the second Big Gulp isn't part of a diabetic diet, even if our "desire" is kicked up.
While all sugars have the same calorie count, science continues to teach us that sugars behave differently in the body. Diabetics and caregivers need to be on the lookout for hidden sugars.
While the Yale study focused on sodas, fructose has been a staple in the American diet since the late 1960s. Food companies added the cheaper, available high fructose corn syrup to common food products.
Don't believe it? Try this at home: Pull two random cans from your cupboard. Check the labels for high-fructose corn syrup. Our family buys canned fruit in its own juices and avoids most processed foods. Yet both the pickled beets and canned pizza sauce I grabbed listed "high fructose corn syrup" high on the ingredients list.
What's a body to do?
For diabetics and those who care or cook for them, awareness and vigilance of everything we prepare and eat is vital. Processed foods are one of the main villains of added sugars, often high fructose corn syrup. Why not puree a few tomatoes for your own fresh marinara sauce?
Our own knowledge, as diabetics or caregivers, is still our best weapon. If you want to read the Yale study, you can find the abstract here.