Glucose syrup is not a complex compound, yet it has some very complex uses. Its applications range from being a staple ingredient in the foods we eat to alleviating symptoms of disease. The word glucose derives from the Greek word, glukus, meaning "sweet," and its chemical identification, C6H12O6, is also referred to as a carbohydrate.
Glucose syrup is primarily used as a pharmaceutical product for the treatment of hypoglycemia in diabetic patients. It comes mixed in liquid drinks, tablets or directly as syrup and is made palatable with flavorings such as grape or lemon. Glucose syrup comes in 15-gram tubes that can be easily opened and swallowed when a diabetic is experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms.
The basic ingredient in glucose syrup is glucose itself. Glucose may also be called d-glucose, dextrose, grape sugar or corn syrup; it is naturally occurring in most plants such as corn, grapes and other fruits. It can also be created when water is added to sugars such as lactose or cellulose. Glucose is a simple sugar and is the primary source of energy for your body. It is a fast-acting carbohydrate, making it a product of choice for diabetics. Glycerin, also a component of glucose syrup, is a sweetener and is added to provide thicker viscosity to the syrup. Preservatives are also commonly added to glucose to increase the shelf life.
American Diabetes Association Recommendations
The American Diabetes Association, or ADA, recommends that diabetics keep fast-acting sugars, such as glucose, close by for when their blood glucose levels get low and they begin experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms. A few of these symptoms include dizziness, hunger, confusion and sometimes, seizures. The ADA suggests following the rule of 15 by eating or drinking something with 15 grams of carbohydrates and then waiting 15 minutes for it to take effect. Glucose syrups sold commercially to diabetics purposefully contain 15 grams of carbohydrates in one dose to accommodate the ADA suggestions.
Glucose syrup is considered an over-the-counter, OTC, drug by the Food & Drug Administration. There is no requirement of a prescription to obtain the syrup and companies who market their syrups to diabetics are urged to meet the American Diabetic Association’s recommended dose of 15 grams per serving.
Glucose syrup has many other uses beyond treatment for hypoglycemia. Other pharmaceutical uses are in cough syrups, cough drops and as an outer coating for pills. In foods, it is used in jams, jellies and confections to prevent crystallization of sugar. Glucose acts as a sweetener for baked goods and is often used in pies and creamy fillings. It is applied to leather to give it sheen and pliability and is often used in tanning. It is also frequently used to prevent evaporation in perfumes. When added to shoe polish, it imparts a faster, nicer shine.
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