Artificial Sweetener Mythbusters
Many people living with diabetes avoid eating sugar,
using guidelines like cutting out refined sugar in the form of candy,
white bread, and desserts. In place of sugar, many choose to use
artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and Splenda®.
However, anecdotal reports indicate serious health issues, such as
tumors and liver problems for using common sugar alternatives. Often
repeated concerns about the side effects of the chemical structure of
sweeteners versus natural or herbal substances confuse consumers.
People living with diabetes struggle with choices that are best for
their health and their future.
In this Mythbusters issue, we address common thoughts and offer recommendations for dealing with sweets and desserts.
1. Sugar is Okay in Moderation
Sugar is okay in moderation. Eating small amounts
of sugar in foods along with a meal, after taking your medicine usually
will not cause extreme blood sugar spikes. Sometimes the other foods
can help to slow down the rise in your bodys blood sugar level.
some people with diabetes, especially Type 1s that produce no insulin,
need to watch their diets closely and may need to eliminate sugar to
avoid health problems that are often associated with diabetes. People
with diabetes should also consult with their doctors about their diet
and sugar intake in order to ensure that they do not make choices that
could harm them in the long run. Whenever possible, you may want to
consider a sugar alternative.
2. Artificial Sweeteners in my Morning Coffee May Increase my Blood Sugar Level
There is no hard evidence that artificial sweeteners increase blood sugar levels. However,
caffeine could. Small studies have come out in recent years indicating
that caffeine could raise sugar in blood, in healthy volunteers and
volunteers with type 2 diabetes.
(1. SoJung Lee, PHD¹, Robert Hudson, MD, PHD², Katherine Kilpatrick,
MD³, Terry E. Graham, PHD and Robert Ross, PHD Caffeine Ingestion Is
Associated With Reductions in Glucose Uptake Independent of Obesity and
Type 2 Diabetes Before and After Exercise Training. Diabetes Care
(2. Heather J Petrie, Sara E Chown, Laura M Belfie, Alison M Duncan,
Drew H McLaren, Julie A Conquer and Terry E Graham. American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 80, No. 1, 22-28, July 2004 Caffeine ingestion
increases the insulin response to an oral-glucose-tolerance test in
obese men before and after weight loss.
In fact, one study showed that consuming as little as 400 milligrams
of caffeine decrease glucose clearing from the blood (thats only about
2 to 3 cups of coffee). Keijzers GB, De Galan BE, Tack CJ, Smits P:
Caffeine can decrease insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabetes Care 25:364369, 2002.
Therefore, if you are concerned about an increase in your blood
sugar level following your morning coffee, you should perhaps take a
look at the amount of caffeine you are taking in instead of the amount
of artificial sweetener you use.
3. Splenda® is Better than Other Sweeteners
The controversy continues over Splenda® and its role as a better sweetener.
Nearly every study indicates that all artificial sweeteners lead to
some sort of medical problem if they are taken over time and in large
quantities. Splenda® is currently getting black marks from many
researchers who point to the harmful effects of the chloro-carbons that
cause kidney calcification and swollen livers in lab rats.
Many Diabetics have found Stevia to be a suitable sugar and
artificial sweetener alternative. Stevia is a very sweet non-caloric
herb that can only be sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement,
according to the Food and Drug Administration. If you are interested in
trying Stevia, check for it on the shelves of your local health food
4. Diet Sodas are Healthier than Full-Sugar Sodas
Sodas are not healthy. If you can wean yourself
from the urge to drink soda, then you absolutely should. There are many
flavorful choices to enhance drinking water including adding fresh
lemon or lime.
You learned in Mythbuster #2 that caffeine can cause your blood
sugar level to increase. Though diet sodas do not contain sugar, they
do contain some caffeine. Therefore, drinking a diet soda may not
infuse sugar into your blood stream, but the caffeine may make your
blood sugar level rise.