Is Jaggery Helpful To Treat Diabetes? April 27, 2017

Do you have anyone in your family suffering from diabetes? It may not be a happy sight. Diabetes can indeed be brought under control with the right lifestyle choices. It can also be very well treated by eating the right foods – like green vegetables, salmon, jaggery, etc.

Oh! wait, jaggery? Seriously? Is jaggery really good for diabetics?

That’s an important question, believe me. A question that warrants a proper answer.

Which is what we will look at in this post.

Diabetes – A Brief

Unfortunately, diabetes is a known (and common) disease today. There is no need for one to explain about it. But still, reinforcing its ill effects might at least create some awareness amongst people, right?

So here you go.

In simple terms, diabetes is a disease where your blood sugar (or blood glucose) levels are abnormally high for a prolonged period.

The cells of your body need glucose for energy, and you obtain glucose from the foods you eat. The hormone insulin plays the role of transporting glucose to all the cells in the body. During diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. This results in the accumulation of blood glucose in the body, leading to a spike in sugar levels.

Diabetes, if not diagnosed and treated in time, can cause severe issues to the eyes, nerves, and the kidneys. The disease can also cause heart ailments and stroke, and, in worst cases, the need to remove a limb.

There are different types of diabetes –

  • Type 1 Diabetes, where the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes, where the cells fail to properly respond to insulin – potentially resulting in a lack of insulin in the body.
  • Gestational Diabetes, where pregnant women without a history of diabetes develop the disease due to high blood sugar levels.
  • Prediabetes, where the blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes.

Coming to the question we had raised at the beginning ..

Is Jaggery Good For Diabetics?

This thing has been doing the rounds since … well, I don’t know. But there has been a lot of confusion with respect to the usage of jaggery during diabetes.

It has been said (and believed) that replacing sugar with jaggery during diabetes offers relief. Frankly speaking, this relief is very minor. And more importantly, sugar is sugar, isn’t it?

Jaggery indeed is more nutritious than sugar. It contains calcium, iron, and other vital minerals. In that aspect, it does not affect the body as much as sugar does. Jaggery also carries a peculiar smell and hence discourages the individual from eating it liberally. This is not the case with sugar.

The problem arises with sucrose, which jaggery contains. Jaggery is absorbed slowly in the body, but hey, it is absorbed. It does spike the sugar levels. Your body would contain almost the same amount of sugar as it would have when you had consumed white sugar. The only difference being jaggery takes a little longer to cause the spike.

If you don’t have diabetes, jaggery would be an excellent substitute for sugar. But if you have diabetes, you must avoid jaggery as much as you avoid sugar and other related products. Another reason for this being jaggery has a very high Glycemic Index – and a diabetes patient’s diet must consist of only those foods with a low Glycemic Index.

Jaggery is also a simple carbohydrate. Except for the beneficial ingredients, the other ingredients it contains are the same as that of sugar. Hence, jaggery is not good for diabetes as it can elevate blood sugar levels.

But from a nutritional point of view, jaggery is always better than sugar. And there are other reasons as well.

Jaggery Vs Sugar

Even if we speak in terms of calories, the difference between the two isn’t much. But we have to consider something here – sugar contains empty calories (1). But jaggery is replete with nutrients – and this is because of its molasses content. Molasses is a nutrient-rich by-product of the sugar making process. It is removed from refined sugar but is retained in jaggery.

Sugar production involves crystallization, where it loses most of its nutrients. But with jaggery, there is no crystallization involved.

Can Diabetics Eat Jaggery In Place Of Sugar?

As we have already learned, the answer is no. But let’s get into a little more detail.

It was but a myth that diabetics could replace sugar with jaggery. This is because both jaggery and sugar come from the same source – sugarcane. Of course, jaggery helps cleanse the stomach, lungs, and the respiratory tract (2). But the ill effects outweigh these benefits.

Jaggery is also, just like sugar, a simple carbohydrate. It doesn’t need to be metabolized, thereby elevating blood sugar levels (3).

What Is The Best Solution For Diabetes?

Frankly speaking, diabetes has no permanent cure. But it can be very well managed. With certain lifestyle changes. A few of them include –

  • Get physical exercise. As we all know, regular physical exercise keeps you fit and fine. It burns calories and even helps normalize blood sugar levels.
  • Eat healthy. Regularly stick to your diabetes eating plan, as suggested by your doctor. Eat more of foods high in fiber. Also, avoid foods with a high glycemic index.
  • Quit smoking. If you never smoked, great. But if you have the habit, it’s time to quit. Smoking might aggravate a number of diabetes complications. These can include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and even eye diseases (leading to permanent blindness).
  • Schedule regular tests. Please schedule at least two to three diabetes checkups every year. This will help you stay on track with the treatment.
  • Stress less. Stress can make you neglect your diabetes care routine. This can be dangerous. Even the stress hormones that are over-stimulated might prevent the insulin from working optimally. So stress less. Learn some relaxation techniques. Get good sleep.

Conclusion

We have already concluded. Jaggery must not be taken if you are a diabetic. And more importantly, there is nothing to worry. Diabetes, or any disease for that matter, can be brought well under control with the right lifestyle choices…

…lifestyle choices that you will have to make. Because nothing is more important, right?

Tell us how this post has helped you. Do comment in the box below.

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