How Natural & Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar
I have wanted to write a post about sweeteners for a while now. Mainly because I get a little frustrated when reading or hearing outright incorrect claims about how some of the natural and artificial sweeteners affect your blood sugar. As a person with diabetes, I want to know exactly what will happen to my blood sugar when I eat or drink something, and I don’t take kindly to half-true marketing claims. I’ve decided to focus on how natural & artificial sweeteners impact blood sugar rather than on whether they are healthy or not, since I think that is somewhat out of my domain and because plenty of others have already covered that. What are natural & artificial sweeteners? FDA defines sweeteners as: “…commonly used as sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives because they are many times sweeter than sugar but contribute only a few or no calories when added to foods”. This means that regular sugar, honey, and Agave nectar/syrup don’t fall into the sweetener category. However, I do want to address these shortly before moving on to the real artificial sweeteners, since I’ve seen claims of how honey and agave won’t impact blood sugar in the same way as sugar. Honey and agave nectar Let’s start with honey because, let’s face it, it’s sugar in liquid form. It’s delicious, but an October 2015 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that when subjects were given honey, cane sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup, they saw no notable difference in blood sugar increase. As for agave, I think that the corporate marketing machine has been very clever when declaring this a health food, for as Dr. Jonny Bowden points out“..It’s basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as healthy food.” Agave nectar may have a lower glycemic index than sugar or honey, but Continue reading >>
How Natural And Artificial Sweeteners Affect Your Blood Sugar
I have wanted to write a post about sweeteners for a while now. Mainly because I get a little frustrated when reading or hearing outright incorrect claims about how some of the natural and artificial sweeteners affect your blood sugar. As a person with diabetes, I want to know exactly what will happen to my blood sugar when I eat or drink something and I don’t take kindly to half-true marketing claims. I’ve decided to focus on how natural & artificial sweeteners impact blood sugar rather than on whether they are healthy or not since I think that is somewhat out of my domain and because plenty of others have already covered that. What are natural & artificial sweeteners? FDA defines sweeteners as: “…commonly used as sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives because they are many times sweeter than sugar but contribute only a few or no calories when added to foods”. This means that regular sugar, honey, and Agave nectar/syrup doesn’t fall into the sweetener category. However, I do want to address these shortly before moving on to the real sweeteners since I’ve seen claims of how honey and agave won’t impact blood sugar in the same way as sugar. Honey and agave nectar Let’s start with honey because let’s face it, it’s sugar in liquid form. It’s delicious, but an October 2015 study in Journal of Nutrition found that when subjects were given honey, cane sugar, or high-fructose corn syrup, they saw no notable difference in blood sugar increase. As for agave, I think the corporate marketing machine has been very clever when declaring this a health food, for as Dr. Jonny Bowden points out “…It’s basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as healthy food.” Agave nectar may have a lower glycemic index than sugar or honey, but it’s still up to Continue reading >>
Do Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Blood Sugar?
Although their use has skyrocketed in the past couple of decades, artificial sweeteners don't have the greatest reputation. Saccharin, which hit the consumer market in the '70s, came under fire almost immediately for being linked to cancer in lab rats. The link was ultimately proven to be pretty weak in humans, but saccharin products carried warning labels for years, and the stigma has stuck around. Aspartame, in particular, has been blamed (with and without concrete evidence) to all sorts of ailments, including cancer, Alzheimer's disease and nervous disorders. And as consumers become more educated about artificial sweeteners, they're starting to realize that "sugar-free" doesn't always mean "healthy" — in fact, sometimes it's quite the opposite. Nevertheless, many see artificial sweeteners (also known as sugar substitutes and non-nutritive sweeteners) as a good alternative to sugar. They're often recommended — by doctors and by institutions such as the American Diabetes Association — for use in weight control and managing diabetes. Because our bodies aren't able to digest most of these sweeteners (with the exception of aspartame), they're low in calories and don't raise blood glucose levels. Or do they? The findings in a 2014 study by Israeli scientists seemed to contradict all conventional wisdom about artificial sweeteners and blood sugar levels. The study has been criticized for being too small (only seven people participated in one section), but it did have the scientific world buzzing. It found that blood glucose levels did rise in mice that were fed doses of water sweetened with the three most popular sugar substitutes: saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) and sucralose (Splenda). The spike was so great in some of the mice that they be Continue reading >>
Correcting Internet Myths About Aspartame
An article circulating on the Internet has called into question the safety of aspartame. To the best of our knowledge, none of the symptoms the writer and her "sources" have attributed to aspartame have been proven in any clinical scientific studies. We would like to respond to her comments to assure people with diabetes, who use products with aspartame, that we are unaware of any credible scientific evidence that aspartame is associated with any of the adverse effects noted in the Internet communication. Aspartame is made up of two amino acids called aspartic acid and the methyl ester of phenylalanine. Amino acids and methyl esters are found naturally in foods like milk, meats, fruits and vegetables. When digested, the body handles the amino acids in aspartame in the same way as those in foods we eat daily. Although aspartame can be used by the whole family, individuals with a rare genetic disease called phenylketonuria (PKU) need to be aware that aspartame is a source of the protein component, phenylalanine. Those who have PKU cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine and must monitor their intake of phenylalanine from all foods, including foods containing aspartame. In the U.S., every infant is screened for PKU at birth. The Internet myth "Especially deadly for diabetics": there is no question that aspartame has been beneficial to people with diabetes, enabling them to enjoy sweet tasting foods without the carbohydrates. Since it does not contain calories in the usual amounts consumed, it cannot affect blood glucose levels or cause weight gain. The facts An 8-oz glass of milk has six times more phenylalanine and thirteen times more aspartic acid than an equivalent amount of soda sweetened with NutraSweet. An 8-oz glass of fruit juice or tomato juice contains three to Continue reading >>
The Abc's Of Sugar Substitutes
A sugar substitute is a food additive that tastes like sugar, but has either few or no calories. Sugar substitutes can be very useful to people with diabetes. Gillian Arathuzik, R.D., C.D.E., Nutrition Diabetes Educator, at Joslin Diabetes Center, goes over the basics of sugar substitutes and how they can impact your blood glucose levels when you have diabetes. Artificial Sweeteners Synthetic sugar substitutes are referred to as artificial sweeteners and have more intense sweetness than sugar. Artificial sweeteners have been controversial as to whether or not they pose any health risks, but so far no studies have conclusively found any and each sweetener is FDA approved. Some commonly used artificial sweeteners include: Aspartame (Equal): 200 times as sweet as sugar. No effect on blood glucose levels. Sucralose (Splenda): 600 times as sweet as sugar. Contains about 1 g carb per packet or teaspoon and could affect blood glucose levels if you consume a large quantity at one time. Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low): 300-500 times as sweet as sugar. No effect on blood glucose levels. Acesulfame potassium (Sunett or Sweet One): 300 times as sweet as sugar. No effect on blood glucose levels. Artificial sweeteners each have an acceptable daily intake (ADI). This can help a person determine how much of each sweetener to consume. “I recommend either Aspartame or Sucralose depending on a person’s taste preference and recommend using either in moderation,” Arathuzik says. Sugar Alcohols Natural sugar substitutes are known as sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are typically less sweet than sugar and provide half the calories of sugar. They are used in many sugar-free products and energy bars. Since half the carbohydrate of sugar alcohols is not absorbed by the body, you can subtract half Continue reading >>
Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Blood Sugar?
Sept. 17, 2014 -- If you’re one of the millions of Americans for whom diet sodas and artificially sweetened desserts play leading roles in efforts to shed pounds and help prevent long-term diseases like diabetes, new research might give you pause. The work, done with mice and humans, suggests that artificial sweeteners could raise your blood sugar levels more than if you indulged in sugar-sweetened sodas and desserts. Blame it on the bugs in your gut, scientists say. They found that saccharin (a.k.a. Sweet‘N Low), sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda) and aspartame (a.k.a. NutraSweet and Equal) raised blood sugar levels by dramatically changing the makeup of the gut microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that are in the intestines and help with nutrition and the immune system. There are trillions of them -- many times more than the cells of the body -- and they account for roughly 4 pounds of your body weight. Scientists in recent years have focused more and more on the link between the gut microorganisms and health. In the latest research, “what we are seeing in humans and also in mice is this previously unappreciated correlation between artificial sweetener use” and microorganisms in the gut, said Eran Elinav, MD, one of the scientists involved in the new study. Elinav and a collaborator, Eran Segal, PhD, spoke at a press conference held by Nature, the journal that published their team’s findings. Both of the scientists are on the faculty of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. “Initially, we were surprised by the results, which is why we also repeated them multiple times,” Segal said. Industry groups said the small number of mice and people studied make the findings hard to apply to larger populations. But one scientist not involved in the research called the sm Continue reading >>
Sugars, Sugar Substitutes And Sweeteners: Natural And Artificial
If you’re living with diabetes, or even if you’re not, you might think sweet foods are a barrier to your healthy, balanced diet. As a general rule,everyone should be eating less sugar– but sometimes, only something sweet will do. If want to lose weight, or you’re trying to keep your blood glucose levels stable, you may want to know whether artificial sweeteners could help. If you browse around your local supermarket, you’ll see a huge range of sweeteners on offer, so it can be baffling to know which, if any, to go for. So in this section we'll take you through: Sweeteners are ingredients that are added to food to enhance sweetness. They can be grouped in different ways: One way is to loosely group sweeteners as: sugar or sugar substitutes.Another way to group sweeteners is whether the sweetener is: natural or artificial. One of the most useful ways of grouping sweeteners is to look at those that have nutritive value, ie nutritive sweeteners, and those without nutritive value, ie non-nutritive or ‘low-calorie’ sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners There are different types of nutritive sweeteners, but they all contain carbohydrate and provide calories. They are usually referred to as ‘sugars’ or ‘added sugar’, but they can also appear in the ingredient list of food packaging as: glucose fructose sucrose maltose honey and syrup, etc. Polyols One group of nutritive sweeteners is polyols, which are sugar alcohols, and include: erythritol isomalt maltitol mannitol sorbitol xylitol. They can be natural or artificially produced. Polyols contain carbohydrates and calories, but they have fewer calories and less of an effect on blood glucose levels than sucrose (sugar). Polyols and diabetes It’s not exactly clear how the polyols should be ‘counted’ by peopl Continue reading >>
Artificial Sweeteners Don't Impact Blood Glucose. And They Never Did
Microbiome. Microbiome. Microbiome. Microbiome. Microbiome. Microbiome. Like fashion, science and medicine can be SO trendy. Over the past few years, alteration of the gut microbiome has been blamed for everything from obesity and diabetes to maybe even climate change on Pluto. But perhaps nowhere has it been invoked more than in the ongoing witch hunt against artificial sweeteners. One convoluted theory after another has been proposed to try to explain why artificial sweeteners are as bad for you (or worse) than sugar itself. In particular, they alter the (sigh) gut microbiome and also fool the body into thinking that sugar has been consumed simply because they are sweet—something I have long debunked. And a paper, which "demonstrated" that fecal transplants from obese rats to normal rats caused the obesity by alteration of the gut microbiome was retracted due to fraud. If this doesn't smell right, it's because it's a big pile of bullsweet, which was just demonstrated in a well-designed, prospective study in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. No mice, no rats, no fraud and no nonsense. V. Lee Grotz of McNeil Nutritionals and colleagues from five different medical centers should (but probably won't) put this nonsense to bed. Gut taste receptor research has led to questions on low calorie sweeteners in glycemic control. Effects have been hypothesized based mostly on cellular and/or short-term animal studies. Reported is a 12-week clinical trial investigating the effects of sucralose on glycemic control. Sucralose had no effect on fasting or post-prandial glucose, insulin and C-peptide, or HbA1c. This paper shows the big difference when science is done properly. Grotz and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind study which examined the effect of Continue reading >>
Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause An Insulin Spike?
178 Comments The notion that artificial sweeteners (and sweet tastes in general) might produce an insulin response is one of those murky memes that winds itself around the blogs, but it’s never stated one way or the other with any sort of confidence. I briefly mentioned the possibility of non-caloric sweeteners influencing satiety hormones in last week’s diet soda post, and a number of you guys mentioned the same thing. Still, I’ve never seen unequivocal evidence that this is the case. This whole idea first came to my attention some time ago when my dog Buddha got into a bottle of “alternative sleep assists” which contained, among other things, 5 HTP (version of l-tryptophan) and xylitol (sugar alcohol). Long story short, dogs can’t take xylitol because it causes a spike in insulin, which then severely depletes blood glucose. Buddha got past this with a trip to the vet’s at 10:30 Sunday night (thanks, Dr. Dean). But it occurred to me that the same effect might be seen in humans, which is why I pose the question today… Do artificial sweeteners induce insulin secretion (perhaps via cephalic phase insulin release, which is sort of the body’s preemptive strike against foods that will require insulin to deal with)? One of the reasons a definitive answer is rarely given is that the question is improperly framed. Artificial sweeteners is not a monolithic entity. There are multiple types of sweeteners, all of them chemically distinct from each other. A more useful question would be “What effect does [specific artificial sweetener goes here] have on insulin?” So let’s go around the circle and ask. Does aspartame (aka Equal and Nutrasweet) affect insulin? Aspartame is pretty gross stuff, what with its awful taste and hordes of people who get terrible react Continue reading >>
Do Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar?
Last week, I started an experiment to better understand how different foods and lifestyle choices impact blood sugar, using a constant-glucose-monitoring device. Today, I’m sharing the results of the first experiment: Do artificial sweeteners affect my blood sugar levels? While the answer may seem obvious – artificial sweeteners contain no sugar – some people still believe there may be an effect. For example, artificial sweeteners could potentially under some circumstances affect insulin levels, indirectly affecting blood sugar and ketone levels. Planning the experiment We designed the following experiment: I would drink a 17 oz (0.5 liters) sugar-free, artificially-sweetened, beverage in 15 minutes. Then, for the next two hours, I would observe my blood-sugar levels using the Dexcom G5 mobile app. To increase the reliability of the experiment, I made sure of four things: 1. That the soda I drank would be caffeine free. 2. That I didn’t eat or drink anything, nor do any form of exercise, 2 hours prior to and after drinking the soda. 3. That my blood sugar was relatively stable for at least 30 minutes before drinking the soda. 4. That I would do the same test at least twice. The experiment could start. Drinking Sprite Zero Sprite Zero was my drink of choice for a few reasons: I drank it sometimes in my pre-low-carb days, it’s sugar and caffeine-free drink, and it contains artificial sweeteners (aspartame and acesulfame potassium). Perfect. I put the bottle to my mouth and took a big sip. “Yuck, way too sweet!”, I told my wife. But a few sips later, I was enjoying the drink. After fifteen minutes the bottle was empty. My eyes were glued to the app. What would happen to my blood sugar? That’s when it happened… …or didn’t happen I should say Nothing. F Continue reading >>
How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar And Insulin
Sugar is a hot topic in nutrition. Cutting back can improve your health and help you lose weight. Replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners is one way to do that. However, some people claim that artificial sweeteners aren't as "metabolically inert" as previously thought. For example, it's been claimed that they can raise blood sugar and insulin levels. This article takes a look at the science behind these claims. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic chemicals that stimulate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. They are often called low-calorie or non-nutritive sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners give things a sweet taste, without any added calories (1). Therefore, they're often added to foods that are then marketed as "health foods" or diet products. They're found everywhere, from diet soft drinks and desserts, to microwave meals and cakes. You'll even find them in non-food items, such as chewing gum and toothpaste. Here's a list of the most common artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are synthetic chemicals that make things taste sweet without any extra calories. We have tightly controlled mechanisms to keep our blood sugar levels stable (2, 3, 4). Blood sugar levels increase when we eat foods containing carbohydrates. Potatoes, bread, pasta, cakes and sweets are some foods that are high in carbohydrates. When digested, carbohydrates are broken down into sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels rise, our body releases insulin. Insulin is a hormone that acts like a key. It allows blood sugar to leave the blood and enter our cells, where it can be used for energy or stored as fat. If blood sugar levels drop too low, our livers release stored sugar to stabilize it. This happens when we fas Continue reading >>
5 Sugar Substitutes For Type 2 Diabetes
1 / 6 A Small Amount of Real Sugar Is Best, but Sugar Substitutes Can Help If you think that people with diabetes should always avoid sugar, think again — they can enjoy the sweet stuff, in moderation. "The best bet is to use a very minimal amount of real sugar as part of a balanced diabetic diet," says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. That being said, sugar substitutes offer sweetness while controlling carbohydrate intake and blood glucose. There are many sugar substitutes to choose from, but they’re not all calorie-free and they vary in terms of their impact on blood sugar. "The major difference between the sugar substitutes is whether they are nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners," says Melissa Mullins, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator with Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Va. "Non-nutritive sweeteners provide no calories and no changes in blood glucose levels, which is perfect for people with diabetes.” Here are six sweet options to consider. Continue reading >>
Artificial Sweeteners Raise Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes, Study Suggests
Artificial sweeteners, which many people with weight issues use as a substitute for sugar, may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research. The study was small and the detailed results have not yet been published, but experts said its findings fitted with previous research showing an association between artificial sweeteners and weight gain. Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and rates of the disease are soaring around the world. Its complications, if it is not controlled, can include blindness, heart attacks and strokes. The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Adelaide, in Australia, who wanted to investigate whether large amounts of no-calorie artificial sweeteners altered the ability of the body to control the levels of glucose in the blood. Some of the 27 healthy volunteers who were recruited for the study were given the equivalent of 1.5 litres of diet drink a day, in the form of capsules of two different sweeteners, sucralose and acesulfame K. They took the capsules three times a day for two weeks, before meals. The others in the study were given a placebo. Tests at the end of the two weeks showed that the body’s response to glucose was impaired. “This study supports the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the body’s control of blood sugar levels and highlights the potential for exaggerated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual NAS [non-caloric artificial sweeteners] users, which could predispose them to develop type 2 diabetes,” said the authors. They presented their findings at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal. Some experts said the findings were in line with previous research, while others said they did not support the conclusion that sweeteners coul Continue reading >>
Artificial Sweeteners May Affect Blood Sugar
Artificial sweeteners may affect blood sugar We have been directed in thepast to opt for the diet drinks or use artificial sweeteners when wanting (or needing) to replace added sugars and manage blood glucose levels. But emerging researchindicates that artificial sweeteners may not be helping keep blood sugar under control, via impacts to our glucose absorption mechanism and gut hormones.1 Not great news when wanting to manage or reduce therisk of type 2 diabetes. With 27 healthy participants, a double-blinded randomized clinical study undertaken by the University of Adelaide compared the impact of a placebo with non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) (sucralose and acesulfame-K) on blood glucose control mechanisms and populations of the intestinal microbiome. Each was taken in the form of capsules, 3 times per day, before meals for two weeks. The 27 participants in the trial were not deemed to be high consumers of NAS prior and all had asimilar response to glucose. Now, compared with placebo under trial conditions, those in the NAS group who were instructed to consume the equivalent of a whopping 1.5L of diet drinks per day experienced: After food, a 24% increase in glucose absorption and blood glucose levels Reduced levels of gut hormone, peptide GLP-1 (which, under normal circumstances, acts to limit the rise in blood glucose after meals). As noted in a press release , none of the measures were altered in those subjects who were given a placebo. This study supports the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the bodys control of blood sugar levels and highlights the potential for exaggerated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual NAS users, which could predispose them to developing type 2 diabetes, the study authors concluded. The findings were presented Continue reading >>
Artificial Sweeteners: Any Effect On Blood Sugar?
Can I use artificial sweeteners if I have diabetes? Answers from M. Regina Castro, M.D. You can use most sugar substitutes if you have diabetes, including: Saccharin (Sweet'N Low) Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) Acesulfame potassium (Sunett) Sucralose (Splenda) Stevia (Pure Via, Truvia) Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar, so it takes a smaller amount to sweeten foods. This is why foods made with artificial sweeteners may have fewer calories than those made with sugar. Sugar substitutes don't affect your blood sugar level. In fact, most artificial sweeteners are considered "free foods" — foods containing less than 20 calories and 5 grams or less of carbohydrates — because they don't count as calories or carbohydrates on a diabetes exchange. Remember, however, other ingredients in foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect your blood sugar level. More research is needed, but studies are increasingly finding that the benefits of substituting sugar-sweetened food and beverages with those that have been sweetened artificially may not be as clear as once thought, particularly when consumed in large amounts. One reason may be a "rebound" effect, where some people end up consuming more of an unhealthy type of food because of the misperception that because it's sugar-free it's healthy. Also, be cautious with sugar alcohols — including mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols can increase your blood sugar level. And for some people, sugar alcohols may cause diarrhea. Continue reading >>