So called artificial sweeteners, of which there is a sufficient selection in every shop, contain mixtures, compound mainly of aspartame, saccharine and acesulfame. Aspartame and saccharine are non-caloric substances much sweeter than sugar and they are suitable for boiled and baked meals. Aspartame does not cause cavities but contains phenylalanine. That is why it is not suitable for phenilketonurics. On the other hand, saccharine can be used by children and pregnant women.
Other types of sweeteners are so called alcohol sugars or polyols (sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol). These are usually found in fruits. Compared to the first two, they are of a higher calorific value. They are mainly used in sweets and chewing gums.
Some sweets, for example diabetic chocolate, contain fructose (naturally found in honey and fruit) or sorbitol instead of the above mentioned sweeteners. However, they contribute to raising the blood sugar and can cause hyperglycemia.
Diabetics should carefully consider how much sweet food they can eat in one day, also in combination with other groceries.
Complex saccharides (compared to simple sugars) occur in groceries which do not necessarily taste sweet, such as bread, mainly white, potatoes, rice, pasta, dairy products, cereals or beer.
Frequent consummation of large quantities of groceries containing saccharides (amyloids) in combination with groceries with sweeteners (mainly fructose), can lead to a long-term rise in blood sugar which contributes to additional complications. Those can be: damage in eye veins (diabetic retinopathy), in the kidneys (diabetic nephropathy), and in the nerves (diabetic neuropathy) or the occurrence of so called diabetic foot (see Interview with Dr. Jirkovská on these web sites).
Hyperglycemia also contributes to a higher consumption of fatty foods because the body feels lacking in energy and tries to get it from fat. Consummation of such groceries causes among other problems increases in weight which again contributes to other complications. The patient gets into a vicious circle from which, without major adjustments in diet and self-control, there is no way out.
What to eat?
Today, every physician suggests a menu which complies with the rules of healthy diet with low fat meals and sufficient fiber content. If diabetics feel like sweets or consume sweet drinks, they should watch these values carefully and include them into the daily intake as well.