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Get on Track with Better Living

Find information, tips, and resources on managing your diabetes

Live a healthier, fuller life by learning more about the types of diabetes, potential complications, and ways to receive insurance coverage.

Sugar Alcohol: The Better Choice

Sugar alcohol is a carbohydrate found in vegetables, fruits, and processed foods. It is a popular ingredient in chewing gum and other sugar-free products. You may now be wondering, "Is sugar alcohol bad for you?" Although its name would lead you to think otherwise, sugar alcohol does possess health benefits for diabetics. Sugar alcohol has less calories and carbohydrates than sugar, meaning it's a safer alternative. In addition to being better for diabetics, sugar alcohol can treat other conditions and diseases associated with diabetes.

Since sugar alcohol contains about half the calories and carbohydrates than sugar, your body does not absorb it as quickly. This prevents your blood sugar levels from spiking after a meal or snack. Eating foods with sugar alcohol can also help you achieve your optimum weight because they contain less calories and carbs than normal foods.

When you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop other serious illnesses. For seniors with diabetes, bone health is a major concern. Type 1 diabetes significantly affects your bone density, meaning you're more vulnerable to fractures and Osteoporosis. However, adding sugar alcohol to your diet may reverse the effect diabetes has on your bones. Animal tests suggest that sugar alcohol has a positive effect on bone density and prevents bones from deteriorating. By improving your density and strengthening your bones, sugar alcohol can reduce your risk for debilitating bone conditions.

Dental health is just as important as bone health. Unlike sugar, sugar alcohol does not cause tooth decay. Moreover, xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that is used in toothpaste and mouthwashes. Using this particular sugar alcohol promotes gum health and prevents Gingivitis. It is especially important for diabetics to have excellent dental health because Gingivitis can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, resulting in more health complications.

Sugar alcohol is available in a wide variety of foods. Local grocery stores carry sugar-free items; however, these foods are typically more expensive. You can assume a product contains sugar alcohol if it advertises itself as sugar-free. Before purchasing, check the nutritional label to see how many grams of sugar alcohol are in each serving. This will help you judge which products will affect your glucose levels the least.

Although sugar alcohol is more beneficial than sugar, it should be consumed in moderation. Bloating and diarrhea are common side effects associated with sugar alcohol. These may seem like minor side effects, but diarrhea can cause severe dehydration in seniors. For this reason, limit your sugar alcohol intake between 10 to 15 grams per day. You'll be less likely to suffer from these uncomfortable side effects.

In the end, researchers need more information about sugar alcohol and diabetes. Since sugar alcohol contains carbohydrates, it is important to consult your doctor before incorporating the substance into your diet.