Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Does it sound logical for any one to wallop a gulab jamoon and then opt for coffee without sugar? Yes, there is a logic. And some science too.

Eating is a dilemma for people with sugar compromised health conditions such as those with pre-diabetes and Type II diabetes problems. There was a time not long ago when rice was avoided by diabetic patients, replacing it with wheat obviously to prevent quick build up of sugar in the blood. With so much known to day about the dynamics of glucose metabolism in humans and incidence of diabetes, it is possible to plan diets precisely to counteract any risks associated with food consumption and consequent glucose surge. The concepts of glycemic index (GI) and gycemic load (GL) are very useful in selecting foods for people who want to control blood sugar levels on a day to day basis.

Coffee without sugar is a very common symptomatic response to diabetes once upon a time and even to day many practice drinking sugarless coffee regularly. But with the easy availability of non-glucose yielding alternate sweeteners like apartame, neotame, acesulfame, sucralose, maltitol, stevia glycosides etc, one need not sacrifice sweetness for protection against hyperglycemic incidences. Taking the examples of gulab jamoon and coffee, many people love to eat jamoon but are afraid of fast glucose influx into the blood that may cause hyperglycemia. If a medium sized jamoon is consumed the likely GL may be about 15-20 while a cup of coffee can also cause a GL of 15-20. Thus for the sheer delight of eating a jamoon, one will always prefer to sacrifice sweetness in coffee to have a control of blood sugar.

It is desirable that information about GI and GL is available to the consumers to make scientific choices vis-a-vis the foods purchased from the market. But what about the logistics in generating the necessary data if GL declaration on the label is made mandatory for the food industry? The GI data already published in the literature are not considered very reliable with conflicting values attributed to the same food by different authors due to many practical reasons. It may be absolutely necessary for each manufacturer to determine GI values for each of their products and the carbohydrate contents in them to arrive at reliable product specific GL values. Neither the limited facilities available to generate the data nor the high cost burden to be borne by the industry makes it easy to introduce this system in the near future unless the Universities and Public funded analytical laboratories and food institutes take up this on a mission mode with
government support. Earlier it is done, better it will be for the consumers.


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