Artificial sweeteners, as the name suggests, are synthetically produced chemicals that are sugar substitutes. They are used in foods to add sweetness without increasing the calorie count. Non-nutritive sweeteners and low-calorie sweeteners are other names for them. To reduce sugar or calories in the diet, a person chooses artificial sweeteners as a sugar substitute.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes that raise the taste and enjoyability of food. They are safe to use if you follow the recommended quantity. In addition, artificial sweeteners can potentially increase the nutritional value of one’s diet while encouraging lower energy intake. They can make beverages, desserts and food preparations taste more appealing.
The body’s blood glucose or blood sugar levels increase from the foods you eat. That is because your body converts most foods into glucose, which circulates in your bloodstream as you digest them. So, glucose becomes your energy source, and any glucose not used immediately gets stored in cells.
Higher blood sugar levels
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for an extended period can lead to numerous health conditions. Higher blood sugar levels than what gets regarded as normal limits are crucial characteristics of type 2 diabetes. The more you understand how food affects blood sugar, the better you can defend against diabetes. Knowing how food affects blood sugar levels is critical if you have diabetes.
When you consume carbohydrate-containing foods, your blood sugar levels rise. These foods could include rice, bread, pasta, confectionaries, potato, tapioca, and other starchy foods. Blood sugar levels rise from digestion when carbohydrates get broken down into glucose to get absorbed into your bloodstream.
HealthifyPro 2.0 enables you to use nutrition science and technology as the best of both worlds. In addition, the coaches assess you to understand what is best for you to manage your blood glucose levels. BIOS, a CGM-based wearable device, can assist you in monitoring your body’s response to various foods by recording blood glucose levels in real-time.
The big question is, do artificial sweeteners affect glucose levels? This article provides an overview of artificial sweeteners and how it affects blood glucose and overall health.
The HealthifyMe Note
Some believe that individuals can consume these artificial sweeteners without fear of harming one’s health. In contrast, others believe that even a single use can be harmful. In this case, it is safe to say that consuming artificial and natural sweeteners in moderation is entirely secure.
Types of Artificial Sweeteners
The most common types of artificial sweeteners include:
Do Artificial Sweeteners Affect Your Glucose Levels?
Research suggests that artificial sweeteners have primarily replaced other sugars and paradoxically have a damaging effect on blood sugar levels. When these artificial sweeteners get consumed, the pancreas releases insulin, which the body interprets as glucose because of its sweet flavour. Thus, it raises the insulin levels in your bloodstream, which eventually causes a decrease in receptor activation.
Artificial sweeteners are known to be much sweeter than sugar. That is why a small amount of artificial sweetener is required to sweeten food. The majority of artificial sweeteners are regarded as “free foods.” Free foods do not count as calories or carbohydrates on a diabetic exchange because they contain 20 calories in 5 grams or fewer carbohydrates.
But remember that even when foods contain artificial sweeteners, other components may still impact your blood glucose levels. For example, regular use changes the balance of our gut bacteria, making body cells increasingly insulin resistant. As a result, it could further lead to increased insulin and blood glucose levels.
Research also shows that people who consume artificial sweeteners have higher insulin resistance, a particular glucose pattern in diabetic patients. Therefore, the more regular you consume artificial sweeteners, the more issues will show regarding insulin resistance.
Apart from insulin, artificial sweeteners might change the gut microbiota’s balance. In addition, it may contribute to metabolic dysregulation. Therefore, people must be aware of science-backed information about a specific artificial sweetener and its use to encourage healthy eating, good nutrition, and enjoyment of food.
How Do Specific Artificial Sweeteners Work?
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener, 200-700 times sweeter than regular sugar. It might as well have an almost metallic or bitter aftertaste. It often gets used in the production of foods and pharmaceuticals.
A study indicated the correlation between saccharin consumption on insulin response and the glycemic effect in young and healthy males. However, results for the same suggested that saccharin did not affect the participants’ blood sugar levels. However, the use of the same for long durations needs more research.
Saccharin consumption led to an increase in insulin levels as it stimulated the sweet receptors. Moreover, even products containing saccharin, like toothpaste and mouthwash, can increase insulin levels.
Aspartame is a calorie-free artificial sweetener that is around 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is usually blended with other sweeteners to minimise its bitter taste. As a result, it gets freely used in beverages, dairy products, and other foods. Its acceptable daily intake given by the FDA is 50 mg/kg of body weight per day.
Research suggests that the use of aspartame by people with diabetes is relatively lenient. Many might even use it beyond the doctor’s recommended period, unaware of the ill effects it might have. Some side effects of using aspartame for a long while are weight gain, headache, stress, nausea and an increase in your blood glucose levels.
According to experts, this particular sweetener has also been under scrutiny due to safety issues, including blood glucose fluctuations, brain damage, and carcinogenic problems. As a result, long-term usage of aspartame, especially by diabetic people, has been discouraged by many sources.
Neotame is an artificial sweetener derived from aspartame. It is around 700- 13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar. It is grey-white with an intensely sweet taste, almost like liquorice. The FDA has approved it for consumption by keeping the daily consumption limit to 2gm/kg.
This sweetener is known for its fast breakdown during human metabolism. It is not cancer-causing and releases a small amount of phenylalanine compared to other sweeteners. It makes it safe for people with phenylketonuria or PKU to consume. However, research shows its adverse effects on body weight, loss of appetite, mild headaches, and liver complications.
This artificial sweetener is among the sweeteners approved by the FDA and is commonly known as Ace-K. It is 200 times sweeter than your table sugar. So, it is exceptionally suitable for heating and is excellent for baked goods and confectioneries.
Since you would only require a smaller quantity of any artificial sweetener, most, including Ace-K, aid in weight management. They hardly contribute to an increase in calories in the body. In addition, research suggests that long-term consumption of Ace-K along with a low-carb diet could reduce your cortical glucose levels and cognitive functioning.
Sucralose is about 600 times sweeter than sugar itself. It is used highly in packaged food, including the taste; it also alters the texture and volume of certain foods. It is obtained from regular sugar but is different from the same in the form of its enzymatic composition. This property prevents it from breaking down in your digestive tract and not producing energy.
According to a meta-analysis, findings are mixed. Research suggests that people who acutely consume sucralose may experience glucose-stimulated insulin release and develop insulin sensitivity. At the same time, there exist results that taking sucralose once in a while would not affect one’s hormonal or glucose responses.
Should Diabetic Patients Consume Artificial Sweeteners?
Obesity is a prelude to diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndromes. Therefore, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have cautiously approved using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. However, enough evidence supports that artificial sweeteners would increase your insulin resistance.
The FDA has defined an “acceptable daily intake” (ADI) for each food item. It is the maximum quantity of a food item that one can consume daily without harming over a lifetime. The list the FDA approves includes sweeteners like Ace-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, stevia, and sucralose.
The endpoint is that artificial sweeteners are comparatively better than sugar and do not harm your blood glucose levels. They may not necessarily be ‘healthy’ but seem to be better than refined and other sugars. They are safe to consume in most parts of the world and do not require a particular prescription.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Even Safe for Use?
People have begun to question whether it is safe to consume sugar substitutes in the name of health as their popularity has grown. Unfortunately, there have been varied findings for the same. According to a study, artificial sweeteners promote weight gain, brain tumours, bladder cancer, and other health risks in addition to their benefits.
There remains a great deal of controversy. Some hold that you can consume these sweeteners without fearing any health threat. In contrast, others suggest that even a single use can be harmful. In such a case, it is safe to say that consuming artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners in moderation is perfectly safe.
The HealthifyMe Note
Stevia, a low-calorie sweetener, monk fruit sweetener, and erythritol from grapes, watermelon, peaches, and pears are popular sweetener options. You can use these artificial sweeteners if you want to keep your blood sugar levels in control.
Are There Natural Replacements for Artificial Sweeteners?
Many cookbooks and television shows tell you that honey or jaggery are healthier alternatives to refined sugar. However, that may not be entirely correct. These sugars, syrups, and honey have roughly the same glycemic index.
If you’re still unsure which artificial sweetener to use, try the natural sweeteners listed below.
Stevia, a low-calorie sweetener, is a popular sugar substitute from the Stevia Rebaudiana. It gets cultivated for both medical and consumption purposes. The leaves of this plant contain sweet compounds called rebaudioside and stevioside. These compounds are considerably much sweeter than sugar but have no calories.
Monk Fruit Sweetener
Another alternative is the extract of monk fruit that gets harvested mainly in the region of Southeast Asia. It is said to be carb-free, calorie-free, and a rich source of antioxidants in addition to its sugar management properties.
This sweetener is obtained from grapes, watermelon, peaches, and pears. It is usually available in powdered form. It does not spike your glucose levels or contribute to your bloodstream’s cholesterol or triglyceride content.
With the world’s beaming statistics on diabetes and obesity, it is no surprise that people want to reduce sugar intake. While this need is quite reasonable, people have moved to consume artificial sweeteners very regularly. Sugar substitutes are everywhere on the market, which can be puzzling.
Your nutritionist, physician, or coach can help you choose the best option for your health. Then, follow a controlled consumption of the same as suggested by your health advisor. Your body may react to specific sweeteners differently; hence, do make sure to check for adverse reactions or allergies.
According to numerous studies, prolonged use of artificial sweeteners can permanently alter people’s preferences for sweet foods, resulting in increased sugar intake throughout life. It also can interfere with children’s ability to learn the fundamental links between sweet flavours and caloric intake, which could adversely impact the control of metabolic processes. Let us understand that artificial sweeteners are not intrinsically bad for your health. However, even the greatest of things are only great in moderation.