Tag Archives: Brenna

Artificial Sweeteners and the Paleoista

Did you know babies under one year of age shouldn’t be given honey?  I saw that warning on a honey container recently and didn’t know why.  Honey may contain bacterial spores that cause botulism in the wee ones.

A pinch of salt helps reduce bitterness in coffee

Paleo diet aficionados can satisfy a sweet tooth with honey or fruit.  Unfortunately for people with diabetes, those items can spike blood sugars too high.  Honey, for instance, has 17 grams of carbohydrate in one tablespoon (15 ml), which is more carb than in a tablespoon of white granulated table sugar.

Most diabetics eating paleo-style will need some limit on consumption of honey and fruit.  Or they could take more diabetes drugs to control blood glucose elevations.  Again, unfortunately, we don’t know the long-term health effects of most of our diabetes drugs.

How about getting a sweet fix with artificial sweeteners?  Paleo purists would say “fuggedaboudit.”  In theory, that’s fine.  But many paleo followers with diabetes won’t forget about it.  They’ll use artificial sweeteners, aka sugar substitutes.

If you’re gonna use ’em, think about stevia.  It’s derived from a natural source, the leaves of a plant in South America.  Admittedly, our forebears in eastern Africa wouldn’t have had access to it 50,000 years ago.  After the plant has been processed, it’s certainly a highly refined product going against the grain of the paleo movement.  Furthermore, one of the stevia market leaders in U.S. (Truvia) is mixed with erythritol.  To help you feel better about the erythritol (a sugar alcohol), note that it is found naturally in some fruits.  Another stevia commercial product in the U.S. is Pure Via.

Dietitian Brenna at her Eating Simple blog reviewed sugar impostors in January, 2012.  She favored stevia over the others, at least for non-diabetics who were tempted.  Brenna also linked to a Mayo Clinic review of artificial sweeteners.

Note that sugar alcohols like erythritol have the potential to raise blood sugar levels.  They shouldn’t raise it as much as table sugar, however.  With regard to sugar alcohols, Dr. Richard K. Bernstein urges caution, if not total avoidance.  Use your meter to see how they effect you.

If you’re in the habit of using one or two teaspoons of honey to sweeten tea or coffee, you’re blood sugar levels should be more stable and manageable if you use stevia instead.  Dr. Bernstein gives the green light to stevia powder or liquid, along with saccharin tablets or liquid, aspartame tablets, and sucralose tablets, acesulfame-K, and neotame tablets.  Stevia is the only one close to “natural.”

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.