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Diabetes and Sugar
Until recently, much importance was attached to restricting the use of sugar in the treatment of diabetes. Today, therefore, it is surprising to hear certain experts say that sugars, like sucrose and fructose, can safely be added as sweeteners to the food of diabetics. This is still controversial.
An article in British Medical Journal (288:1025) suggests that it is premature to recommend sugar for diabetics simply on the basis of short-term blood level studies after test meals sweetened with sucrose or fructose. Rather, the Journal recommends, we should wait and see what happens when sugars have been added to the diets of a limited number of diabetic volunteers for several years. Possibly, the long-term effect may not be desirable. Meanwhile, it is recommended that diabetics avoid simple sugars. Complex carbohydrates, however, especially the bulk-providing ones such as beans, peas, bran, wholemeal bread, and natural cereals are acceptable in that they do not quickly release a lot of sugar during digestion. In fact, they even reduce the need for insulin by trapping sugar in the gut. Furthermore, by providing calories that might otherwise have to be supplied by fat and meat (which provide cholesterol), complex carbohydrates can help to prevent atherosclerosis, the major complication of diabetes.
Diabetes and Alcohol
An important news item for diabetics in the British Medical Journal (288:1035) is the discovery that alcohol usage helps to bring on proliferative retinitis, the most common cause of blindness in diabetics. The retina is the light-detecting nerve layer in the back of the eye. Alcohol usage was defined as taking at least 10 drinks (beers, glasses of wine, shots of whiskey, gin, etc.) per week. Since alcohol is a close relative of glucose, one could imagine that it is bad for diabetics in two ways — both as a sugar and as a toxic agent for nerve cells, including those in the eye.