Tag Archives: aspartame

Do Sugar Substitutes Cause Overweight and T2 Diabetes?

We don’t know with certainty yet. But a recent study suggests that non-caloric artificial sweeteners do indeed cause overweight and type 2 diabetes in at least some folks. The study at hand is very small, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. I’m not changing any of my recommendations at this point.

exercise for weight loss and management, dumbbells

Too many diet sodas?

 

The proposed mechanism for adverse metabolic effects of sugar substitutes is that they alter the mix of germs that live in our intestines. That alteration in turn causes  the overweight and obesity. See MedPageToday for the complicated details. The first part of the article is about mice; humans are at the end.

Some quotes:

“Our results from short- and long-term human non-caloric sweetener consumer cohorts suggest that human individuals feature a personalized response to non-caloric sweeteners, possibly stemming from differences in their microbiota composition and function,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers further suggested that these individualized nutritional responses may be driven by personalized functional differences in the micro biome [intestinal germs or bacteria].

***

Diabetes researcher Robert Rizza, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who was not involved with the research, called the findings “fascinating.”

He noted that earlier research suggests people who eat large amounts of artificial sweeteners have higher incidences of obesity and diabetes. The new research, he said, suggests there may be a causal link.

“This was a very thorough and carefully done study, and I think the message to people who use artificial sweeteners is they need to use them in moderation,” he said. “Drinking 17 diet sodas a day is probably a bad idea, but one or two may be OK.”

I won’t argue with that last sentence! (Unless you have phenylketonuria and want to use aspartame.)

Finally, be aware that several clinical studies show no linkage between human consumption of non-caloric artificial sweeteners and overweight, obesity, and T2 diabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Brenna Reviews Sugar Substitutes

Too late now!

Paleo diet purists don’t eat artificial sweeteners.  Yet many adherents eat paleo-style only 80 or 90% of the time, partly because they miss their sweets.  Fruits and honey don’t always hit that sweet spot.

Dietitian Brenna at Eating Simple has a post on sugar substitutes, which I sometimes refer to as non-caloric sweeteners (not entirely accurate). She reviewed sucralose, saccharine, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium.

A few days later, she reviewed sugar alcohols.

Many who have a sweet tooth, including myself, use sugar substitutes such as sugar alcohols. Sometimes they affect blood sugar levels, although not as much as table sugar (sucrose).

Brenna links to a Mayo Clinic article on artificial sweeteners.  Also at the Mayo Clinic website is an article by Dr. Maria Collazo-Clavell on use of artificial sweeteners specifically by people with diabetes.  Like Brenna, she notes that sugar alcohols can raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Dr. Richard K. Bernstein says acceptable sugar substitutes for PWDs (people with diabetes) are:

  • saccharin tablets or liquid
  • aspartame tablets
  • acesulfame-K
  • stevia
  • sucralose tablets and liquid Splenda

He says to be wary of any of these in powdered form because they are usually then mixed with dextrose (glucose) or maltodextrin or other type of sugar to increase bulk. So blood sugars go up.

I never got excited enough to cover this topic in detail myself. Thanks, Brenna!

Steve Parker, M.D.