WXTK Better Health Report: Artificial Sweetners

You may have heard that artificial sweeteners can actually raise blood sugar, even though they contain no calories.

How can that be, you may wonder?

Well, wonder no more, because a review of 29 randomized controlled trials shows that artificial sweeteners do NOT raise blood sugar.

Researchers from the University of Illinois picked these studies because they were randomized controlled trials, considered the gold standard of studies. These are well controlled studies where all the variables are known and can be accounted for. They don’t rely on memory or someone reporting what they think they remember.

The studies all looked at non nutritive sweeteners. In the US, examples are Sweet n Low, Equal, Stevia and Splenda.

They looked at them when taken alone, not mixed with any food sources.  And when consumed alone, they had no effect on blood sugar.

Some of the studies in the past where artificial sweeteners raised blood sugar may have been looking at what are called nutritive sweeteners, which are touted as being sugar free, but they do have calories, although they are lower in calories actual sugar.

 I always tell my patients that “sugar free doesn’t necessarily mean calorie free”.   An example is sorbitol, which is often added to sugar free candy. It really comes down to semantics.  Sorbitol is an alcohol form of sugar, so in the food science world, it’s not technically sugar, like cane sugar, so manufacturers are allowed to say their product is sugar free.

Now not only are there some calories from the sorbitol, but also from the other ingredients in the candy. And if too many candies are consumed, they can not only raise your blood sugar, but cause diarrhea to boot.

So if you have diabetes and are concerned about whether a diet soda will somehow worsen your blood sugar, I think you can put those fears to rest.

This is Joan Trimble wishing you wellness.


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