Diabetes and Palm Sugar – An Expert’s View

First Step toward a Change in Lifestyle

Kalarani Ramasamy, Dietician
Kalarani, Dietician

Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are the talk of the hour and a growing threat to our human community. These include diseases caused not by infection and does not spread from person to person. Type II Diabetes is one of the prominent NCD. Though there are many causes for Type II Diabetes, the most predominant cause is change in life style. Of all the Lifestyle related risk factors the major one is Dietary choices. Various studies have shown that Magnitude of lifestyle modification with diet and physical activity showed most promising event to prevent disease than physical activity alone.

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have “prediabetes” — blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. People with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. At this stage if proper Dietary choices are made one can prevent or delay the development of type II Diabetes.

GI
Before going into the individualized dietary recommendations, it is important for everyone to understand the term Glycemic Index (GI). GI is a measure of how quickly the blood sugar levels rise after eating a particular food. Foods with carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream tend to have a high GI.
Several scientific evidences show that individuals who follow a low-GI diet over many years are at a significantly lower risk for developing both type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

First step towards lifestyle change:
Sugars play a vital role in Diabetes. Since the commonly used white sugar has a GI of around 68, it readily increases the sugar level in the blood stream. So, there is a need for an alternate sugar with low GI. With an increase in prediabetes this plays a crucial role in preventing the onset of Diabetes. There are n- numbers of artificial sweeteners. But staying close to nature is a better way to improve the lifestyle and avoid NCD.

Some of the natural sugars available are unrefined brown sugar (molasses), Barley malt, dates sugar, honey, palm sugar etc.

The largest database of GI food values in the world show that of all natural sweeteners, palm sugar has a GI of 35, which is low when compared to all other natural sugars… with Brown sugar at 65, honey at 55, Maple syrup at 54, Barley malt syrup at 42.

Palm sugar is the traditional Indian sugar which has been used since ages. It is readily available, tasty, healthy and organic. It is proved that the onset age of Diabetes has been high for the earlier generations. Their dietary pattern and physical lifestyle are the attributes that has contributed to this delayed onset. Use of palm sugar is believed to be one of the contributors to their healthy way of life.
Further study is undertaken to understand the exact role of palm sugar in the delayed onset of Diabetes.

Hence, it is highly recommended to switch from regular white sugar, which has hard core proof to be unhealthy and mounts huge side effects, to the time tested, healthy palm sugar which has least GI. To ease the effort involved in breaking the hard palm sugar – now palm sugar is available in the powder form too.

This change in the use of sugar is a must, particularly for those who are at risk of diabetes and the prediabetes.

Children can be trained to use palm sugar instead of the white sugar and the chemically prepared proprietary drinks. This way we can build a healthier future generation equivalent to our ancestors.
Why can’t this be our first step toward a change in lifestyle? Read more..

– Guest Post by Kalarani Ramasamy, a dietician from Govt. RSRM Hospital, Chennai (India)