Excuse Buster: Alternatives to the ‘white devil’

PHUKET: “This may seem exaggerated and far-fetched, but sugar is the most dangerous drug of the times and can still be easily acquired everywhere,” says Paul van der Velpen, the head of Amsterdam’s health service. This is the same Amsterdam where the sale of cannabis is legalized.

Research that refined sugar is one of the main reasons for our current epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and possibly heart disease and cancer rates today, looks pretty convincing.

If you are overweight or suffer health issues related to blood sugar, then I recommend getting tested to see where you stand first. The numbers below are based on the American Diabetic Association ranges and I have added my own personal ideals for clients seeking excellent blood sugar balance.

Fasting blood glucose:
You could buy a kit and test it daily in a state of fasting, or you could drop into one of the many clinics on the island and get yourself tested for less than 200 baht at most of them.
Normal: 70-99mg/dl (My optimal range is a bit narrower, between 75-90)
Pre-diabetes: 100-126
Diabetes: Over 126

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HbA1c (long term sugar):
Easily done in Phuket and costs less than 600 baht.
Normal: Less than 5.7 per cent (My optimal range is 4.5-5.2)
Pre-diabetic: 5.8-6.5
Diabetes: 6.5 and above

You could also do a glucose tolerance test to confirm this with your doctor, if needed. If you regularly succumb to sweet tooth desires and the numbers above don’t look so good, then perhaps it’s time to seek some alternatives. Here are my favorites.

Stevia
Stevia is a good sugar substitute because it is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, non toxic and has no calories. It can be quite bitter and have an after taste, which is why it is often mixed with sugar alcohols like Xylitol and Erythritol.

Erythritol / Xylitol
Xylitol is extracted from trees, has minimal calories and will barely impact blood sugar. It’s also shown to be beneficial in reducing cavities – which is why many toothpastes and chewing gums now use it instead of sugar or artificial chemical sweeteners like Aspartame. It is also good with baking.

Erythritol is found in fruits, vegetables and fermented foods. It has almost zero calories and doesn’t affect blood sugar.

Raw Honey
Raw honey has many benefits, including its packaging with minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. It is also high in fructose, however, so use it sparingly if you have issues with blood sugar.

Craig Burton is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) with a Bachelor of Science degree (Sports Science) and a National Academy of Sports Medicine (PES) certification.

— Craig Burton

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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