In 2006, the United Nations designated November 14 the annual World Diabetes Day to raise awareness around the growing epidemic of diabetes, its prevention and complications, and the care that people with the condition need. In the interest of public health and awareness, Indus Dictum has reproduced below in full an article about the alternative to sugar, as received from the not-for-profit HEAL Foundation. We urge our readers to research the dangerous potential of sugar, and consult a doctor and/or nutrition expert for more information.
India has the highest number of adults with type 2 diabetes across the world. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that there were 72 million cases of diabetes in India as of 2017. By 2045, this number is projected to more than double. According to the World Health Organization, diabetes is now the seventh most frequent cause of death around the world.
Despite the best efforts of global enterprises, nothing has been able to pose a challenge to the hegemony of Indian sweets prepared at traditional sweets shops as well as at homes. Though, it is pertinent to mention here that the major ingredient in almost all sweets is sugar.
It is not a hidden fact that the consumption of sugar is directly related to the chances of diabetes affecting an individual. However, the alternative for sugar, low calorie sweeteners (LCS), is now readily available in the market.
Celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor said, “Correct knowledge is the key to correct choices. Replacing most of the high-calorie food products is difficult. However, sugar which adds free calories to the diet can be replaced easily with low-calorie sweeteners. People often say that it doesn’t taste the same and I agree with them. It won’t taste 100% same, however, if one tries it for 2-3 weeks then they will get habituated to the taste. If compromising on 10% of taste can help you cut down on your total calorie intake, it is a deal worth taking.”
Speaking on the subject, Manjari Chandra, Consultant Therapeutic and Functional Nutrition, Max Healthcare, said, “Till a few years back the demand for low calories sweeteners was originating from users who required them in hot beverages like tea and coffee. As a matter of fact, 90% of low calorie sweeteners were consumed by diabetics in India. Moreover, the middle class represented only 2% of the total consumption; it is over 70% in high-income groups.”
“But as the benefits of low calorie sweeteners are becoming known, a significantly higher number of consumers are opting for them in place of refined sugars. Studies conducted by JECFA (Joint WHO-FAO Expert Committee on Food Additives) show that low calorie sweeteners have proven to be beneficial in managing conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Moreover, by reducing the calorie content in food products, low calorie sweeteners help with weight control and reduction in risks associated with obesity. Additionally, as low calorie sweeteners go through extensive testing and quality checks, their safety for consumption cannot be doubted,” said Chandra.
Awareness of the downsides of consuming high-sugar sweets is rising amongst consumers. In order to avoid being affected by lifestyle ailments like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, consumers are looking for safer alternatives. As a result, not only diabetics but calorie-conscious consumers are also now preferring products prepared with low calorie sweeteners. This has led to a rise in the availability of sweets prepared with low calorie sweeteners.
As it is difficult for Indian consumers to let go of their penchant for sweets, the availability of safer options, produced with low calorie sweeteners, ensures they can indulge in their favourite sweets without worry. Although preparing sweets with low calorie sweeteners ensures low intake of glucose, it does not make the sweets calorie-free as other ingredients are rich in calories like nuts, ghee, and butter. So, consumption should be regulated to avoid side-effects.
There was a dedicated session on the science of low calorie sweeteners at the 7th HEAL Health Writers convention. The objective of this session was to present and deliberate on scientific evidence present around low-calorie sweeteners and understand its relevance for the Indian population especially.
The session brought together international nutrition, clinical and toxicology experts to share relevant, credible scientific findings on safety and health benefits of low-calorie sweeteners. The session was meant to highlight the importance of quoting credible resources on the subject of LCS in any media story as impact of ill-researched media stories around LCS on the masses – especially patients with metabolic disorders – can be highly adverse.
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