Sugar, its substitutes, and your health

Artificial sweeteners cause body weight gain. When we consume no calorie artificial sweeteners both our minds and our bodies believe that we have consumed something sweet. Our bodies release insulin in response to the sweet taste anticipating raised blood sugar levels. However, since the blood sugar was not increased, the insulin is in excess. [1] Insulin is the feeding and storing hormone. It lowers blood sugar by storing glucose in tissues, mainly fat tissue. In the case of artificial sweeteners, the excess insulin does the same as what it does normally, it lowers blood sugar by storing glucose in fat tissue. However, since the no calorie artificial sweetener never raised the blood sugar this induces an abnormally low blood glucose level. This abnormally low blood glucose level makes a body believe it needs more food, which results in increased food intake.  

In 2008, a Purdue University Study demonstrated this with rats. They found that use of “artificial sweeteners in rats resulted in increased caloric intake, increased body weight, and increased adiposity (fatness), as well as diminished caloric compensation and blunted thermic responses.” [2]

Check Out their study:
A Role for Sweet Taste: Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats

In 2005, a population based study human study showed that increased use of diet soda was associated with increased weight gain.

Check out their study: Drink More Diet Soda, Gain More Weight?

Additionally, some have questioned the safety of artificial sweeteners.

Checkout this article: New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer In Rats At Levels Currently Approved For Humans

Checkout this video: The Danger of Aspartame

For these reasons, I do not recommend artificial sweetener consumption. The list of artificial sweeteners includes the following:

        Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)

        Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)

        Neotame

        Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low)

        Sucralose (Splenda)

        Stevia (Truvia, PureVia)

This leaves us with the nutritive sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners fall into the carbohydrates class of macronutrients. As such all of the concerns related to high glycemic carbohydrates apply. Glycemic index is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Previously, I wrote about concerns related to high glycemic carbohydrates in the following blog: Be Deliberate with your Carbohydrate Consumption

The follow is a list of common nutritive sweeteners and their associated glycemic indexes[3]:

                White Sugar (64)

                Brown Sugar (64)

                Corn Syrup (62)

                Black Strap Molasses (55)

                Maple Syrup (54)

                Honey (30)

                Brown Rice Syrup (25)           

                Agave Nectar (15)

Fruits contain two types of sugars fructose and glucose. Different fruits have different Gycemic Indexes. The following are some fruits and their glycemic indexes[4]:

       Peach (30)

       Grapefruit (25)

       Orange (44)

       Pear (38)

       Kiwi (52)

White sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup all have glycemic indexes that are relatively high. Using the other nutritive sweetner options has the advantage of a more moderate affect of blood sugar levels. However, many of these options still have a significant affect on blood sugar. Thus even fruit consumption should be kept to a reasonable level. I love sweets as much as anyone, but it is worth it to limit consumption.


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~ by happydeviant on November 21, 2010.

5 Responses to “Sugar, its substitutes, and your health”

  1. I’m reducing my diet coke drinking

  2. I just donated to Touching Tiny Lives.
    To reduce my Diet Coke intake, I decided that the money I spent could either be spent on Diet Coke or orphans in Africa. It was a way to help me be more thoughtful about my diet.

    • I like that idea. I should try that for my coffee habit. Too many mornings on my way into work I buy a coffee for over 2 dollars. I have had the toughest time quitting.

  3. I was averaging one a day. So I kept track of what I drank. After a few months, I added up the money I would have spent on the days I didn’t have a coke. I donated that money.

    I also did it with Peanut M&Ms.

    After about 16 weeks, the total was $50.

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