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What Is Glucerna®?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Glucerna® is a brand of nutrition bars and shakes designed for people with diabetes who are susceptible to quick increases in blood sugar levels. Manufactured by Abbott Laboratories of Chicago, Illinois, this type of meal replacement is meant to provide needed nutrition and fuel with the company's patented CarbSteady® formula, which is primarily made of low-glucose sucromalt that is constructed to slowly release its complex carbohydrates. These foods and drinks also contain specialized vitamins and minerals proven to benefit diabetics, from vitamins C and E to chromium picolinate and magnesium.

Diabetics, whose bodies make little or none of the insulin needed to digest glucose, must modify their diets in certain ways that Glucerna® claims to complement. Doctors will recommend a diet nearly devoid of saturated fats that are suspected to cause or perpetuate a common form of this disease: type two diabetes. Simple sugars must always be avoided, as they will cause immediate and potentially dangerous spikes in glucose levels. This could lead to any number of common symptoms like weakness, extreme hunger and blurred vision. Complex carbohydrates, lean protein and large amounts of fiber are typically recommended.

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The primary constituent of Glucerna® is sucromalt, a combination of sucrose and maltose. This compound is constructed to release its sugars slowly. According to Abbott Labs, this technology results in a marked decrease in blood glucose that is superior to other store-bought diabetic shakes or meal-replacement bars. This is due to sucromalt's low ranking on the glycemic index, at around 30. By contrast, foods like doughnuts, rice products, high-sugar desserts, simple candies like jelly beans, potatoes and even pretzels are considered relatively high risks for a diabetic.

Other supplemental ingredients are included in Glucerna® to aid in digestion or to improve a diabetic's overall health. Fiber from plant-based phytosterols helps to lessen cholesterol. Vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, chromium picolinate and magnesium all contribute directly or indirectly to improve digestion as well as to keep glucose levels low and insulin levels high.

Glucerna®'s low score on the glycemic index puts it squarely between two other slow-digesting, carbohydrate-bearing grains. Rye scores a 34, and pearl barley reigns at 25. Scores below 50 are typically considered acceptable risks for diabetics though, with the 50s to the 60s considered a medium risk and anything over 70 dangerously high. Lowest on the chart are most vegetables, besides some beans. Also favored for low glycemic scores are pasta, some fruits like apples and grapefruit, dairy products besides ice cream, and most natural fruit juices.

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