Effect Of Artificial Sweeteners On Blood Sugar And Insulin
In the nutrition world it is believed that reducing your sugar intake can help you stay healthy as well as lose weight. How to sweeten your food then? One option is the use of artificial sweeteners. However, it has been claimed that artificial sweeteners can lead to a rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Let us look at the scientific claims:
Artificial sweeteners – what are they?
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic chemicals that give you a sweet taste without any added calories. This is why they are added to many ‘health foods’ or ‘diet foods’. You can find them in diet soft drinks, desserts, cakes and even chewing gum and toothpaste.
The common ones are:
- Acesulfame Potassium
What causes a rise in blood sugar levels and insulin?
Blood sugar increases when we eat carbs. Carbs when digested are broken down into sugar and that is absorbed by the bloodstream, leading to blood sugar rise. This makes the body release insulin. Insulin is what allows the blood sugar to leave the bloodstream and enter the cells so that they can use up the sugar for energy of store it as fat.
When the levels of blood sugar get too low, our liver releases the stored sugar to stabilize the blood sugar levels. This usually happens when we fast for a long period like during the night.
Now there are many theories that state that artificial sweeteners interfere with this natural process.
- Insulin gets released when there is a response to the sweet taste.
- Regular use of artificial sweeteners affects gut bacteria. There are chances of making the cells resistant to insulin leading to an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Do blood sugar levels rise due to artificial sweeteners?
In the short term, artificial sweeteners will not raise the levels of blood sugar. However, one study on mice says that they make changes to the bacteria living in the gut.
There is just one human observational study that hints a link between aspartame and changes in gut bacteria. The long term impact of artificial sweeteners in humans is actually unknown.
Is there a rise in insulin levels due to artificial sweeteners?
The effect on insulin levels varies from one artificial sweetener to another.
Human as well as animal studies have suggested that there is a link between ingestion of sucralose and raised levels of insulin. However, the effects are mixed.
This is the artificial sweetener that is the most controversial one but studies don’t establish its link with raised levels of insulin.
The results of studies done with saccharin are mixed.
This sweetener increases insulin levels in rats but the effect on humans is unknown.
The final word
No reliable human trials exist that show an effect on insulin.
Are Artificial Sweeteners suitable for diabetics?
Artificial sweeteners will not raise your blood sugar levels in the short term, unlike sugar and is thus safe for diabetics. But the long term health implications are unknown.
Should you consume artificial sweeteners?
More research is needed to render artificial sweeteners as safe. Till then we can say that they are less bad than sugar! If you are worried about after effects, you can go in for natural sweeteners such as stevia.
Hope you found this post useful!
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