Soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, coffee, tea, chocolate malt, doughnuts, ‘kuih muihs’, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, sweets, ‘cendol’, ‘ice-kacang’. The list of sweet temptations is endless.
With expanding waistlines bulging more than ever and blood sugar rocketing in many of us, there is an urgent need to find healthy sweetness alternative to replace sugar.
High sugar intake is associated with a number of poor health conditions including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high triglycerides, inflammation, all which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
The link between diabetes and sugars is most obvious in sugary drinks. Harvard’s Vasanti Malik summarized the results from eight studies and the meta-analysis data of over 300,000 people, with these results: “for each 12oz. serving (a standard can) of a sugar-sweetened beverage you drink daily, you’re getting about 15% increased risk for diabetes,” says Malik.
More than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes. There is an emerging global pandemic of diabetes that can be traced back to rapid increases in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.
Closer to home, the 2006 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) conducted by the Health Ministry reports that one in seven Malaysians is diabetic. This may just be the tip of the iceberg, with Malaysian medical and nutrition experts now believing that diabetes affects up to a staggering 22% of the country’s population – meaning one in five adults in Malaysia is diabetic.
Regrettably, not many are told that diabetic complications such as eye, nerve and kidney damage are generally avoidable with lifestyle changes, which includes diet, nutritional supplements, regular exercise, as well as keeping tabs on a few simple medicals tests such as HbA1c, regular eye examinations, etc.
Below are some simple yet significant ways to prevent diabetes-related complications:
a) Daily exercise – Exercise should be part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, but it’s especially essential for people with high blood sugar levels. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean cycling 50km or bench-pressing 100kg. The objective is to stay active by doing things you enjoy, from gardening to swimming or even brisk walking.
b) Healthy Diet –The aim is to eat well-balanced meals in correct amounts and cutting down on sugar intake. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Eat a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Choose brown rice over white rice and wholemeal bread instead of white.
- Cut down on sugar laden snacks such as cakes, cookies, “kuih muihs” etc.
- Don’t drink sugar-sweetened beverages. Limit fruit juices to no more than 1 cup a day.
- Limit all added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, cane or brown sugar, ‘gula melaka’, syrup and honey.
- Choose Sugar-free 3-in-1 hot beverages sweetened with an all-natural extract from the sweetest part of the stevia leaf called Rebiana A (Reb-A).
Healthy stevia sweetness
Also known as sweet leaf or Stevia rebaudiana, stevia is about 300 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories. Stevia extract is made from the sweetest part of the stevia leaf.
Besides tasting good, stevia extract is safe and has no side-effects. In December 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status to high purity Reb-A for use as a general purpose sweetener.
Natural low-calorie sweeteners using high purity Reb-A from stevia has been found to be safer compared to the potential side-effects of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin.
Although stevia does not taste the same as sugar; it is an excellent substitute for cane sugar. When it comes to sweetness, no other sweetener can measure up to sugar because we are used to taking sugar since birth.
3-in-1 sugar-free beverages sweetened with stevia extract
Denying your loved ones the simple pleasures of drinking coffee or chocolate malt without sugar can be heart-wrenching. How can we tell them not to add sugar into their drinks without hurting their feelings or seeing the despair on their faces?
Fortunately, there is now a range of delicious 3-in-1 sugar-free white coffee, chocolate malt and oats & cereal sweetened with stevia, the natural sweetener at independent pharmacies, selected chain pharmacies, grocers as well as mini markets.