6 Ways to Avoid and Manage a Sugar Overload

Published on October 26, 2016 by Dr. NavNirat Nibber

Halloween is right around the corner and so are the scary, sugary, spirits. Sometimes our curiosity gets the best of us and we find ourselves reaching into the candy cauldron. These six tips can help you manage the sweetness overload after a sugar binge:

1. Glycemic load vs glycemic index: The most effective way to avoid a sugar overload is simply to avoid foods with a lot of sugar. Sounds easy, right? Well it’s harder than it sounds. That being said you can make healthier choices by considering both the glycemic index (GI)  and the glycemic load (GL) of a food.
Note: GI = how fast the carbohydrates in a food are broken down into sugars and enter your bloodstream. GL = the amount of carbohydrates (i.e. sugars) in a serving of that particular food.         
The goal is to consume foods with low GL and low GI. But the glycemic load is typically a more accurate indicator, as it considers the actual amount of sugars in the food. High GI foods will rapidly increase blood glucose levels and the subsequent insulin response.
Carrots are a prime example. They have a medium-to-high GI, with a low GL. Meaning that while the sugars that exist are quickly absorbed, there isn’t a high sugar content to begin with. Compared to a 4oz bag of potato chips that has a high GI level (54) and a high GL level (30).Before you reach for a snack on Halloween night check out this comprehensive list of common foods and their respective GI’s and GL’s per serving here.

2. The “Sugar Killer”: Gymnema sylvestre extract comes from a herb is thought to help you manage your sweet tooth by effectively numbing your taste buds. The leaves of Gymnema sylvestre contains a small peptide, called gurmarin, which quenches the sweet taste sensation hence its reputation for being the “sugar killer” in India.

3. Jujube Leaves: No, not the jujubes you are thinking of. The Chinese jujube tree leaves, Ziziphus jujuba, have been used for over 2000 years for various reasons (i.e. curing a number of conditions such as indigestion, to being used as a sedative). Much like the gymnema plant, the leaves of the jujube tree are traditionally used to limit sweet intake due to the presence of ziziphin. Unlike gumarin in gymnema the ziziphin is a shorter acting and highly sweet specific suppressant.

4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon has long been hailed as a blood sugar management tool. A study conducted in 2015 considered the blood glucose levels in non-diabetic adults following a meal with and without cinnamon tea. Researchers found that ingesting cinnamon tea (from C.burmannii) would lower postprandial glucose concentration (the amount of a type of sugar, called glucose, in the blood after a meal.) Another study examined the effect of 6g of ground cinnamon on the postprandial glucose response and improved insulin sensitivity. The proposed mechanism of action has to do with the dietary polyphenols in cinnamon; these are also found in high amounts in berries, legumes and green and black tea. These polyphenols are thought to block enzymes that digest carbohydrates into sugars, inhibit glucose absorption and release from the liver, stimulate insulin secretion (to help cells uptake glucose that is present).

5. Chromium picolinate: Chromium is an essential mineral for the metabolism of carbohydrates. Chromium increases the sensitivity of insulin receptors, which increases the cellular transport of glucose and reduces blood sugar levels. It is important to note that chromium with picolinic acid, is the natural form of chromium in all living things and is preferred.

6. Bitter Melon: Bitter melon (M.charantia) is often used in Indian cooking, known as kerela. These highly bitter fruits have been traditionally used for weight loss, Type 2 diabetes, for liver support, and kidney stones. Studies have examined its effects in regulating blood sugar, suggesting that the form and preparation of the bitter melon is important for optimising therapeutic benefit. Fresh juice from the bitter melon rather than the dried fruit form, seems to result in a greater reduction in fasting and postprandial (after eating) blood glucose levels.

While you may not be able to resist the sweet temptations, we can’t blame you honestly, at least you’ll be able to manage the impact of the sugar on your system. Do you have any of your own tips to share? Let us know!

Reference:

Augustin LS, Kendall CW, Jenkins DJ, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An International Scientific Consensus Summit from the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC). Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015;25(9):795-815.

Bernardo, M.A., Silva, M.L., Santos, E. et al., “Effect of Cinnamon Tea on Postprandial Glucose Concentration,” Journal of Diabetes Research, vol. 2015, Article ID 913651, 6 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/913651

Cefalu WT, Rood J, Pinsonat P, Qin J, Sereda O, Levitan L, Anderson RA, Zhang XH, Martin JM, Martin CK, Wang ZQ, Newcomer B. Characterization of the metabolic and physiologic response to chromium supplementation in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2010 May;59(5):755-62.

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Amino Acid Sequence of Sweet-Taste-Suppressing Peptide (Gurmarin) from the Leaves of Gymnema sylvestre. J Biochem (1992) 111 (1): 109-112.

Keszthelyi Z, et al. Chromium (III)-ion enhances the utilization of glucose in type-2 diabetes mellitus. Orv Hetil. 2003 Oct 19;144(42):2073-6.

Mang, B., Wolters, M., Schmitt, B., et al. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA(1c), and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest, 36 (5) (2006), pp. 340–344.

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  • Andrew Kaine

    Excellent article Dr. Nibber! I'll be sure to pass this information along to my Sunday patients.

  • Orson Milos

    Thoroughly researched sources. The Mang, Wolters, Schmitt report is tremendous.