T Nation

Artificial Sweeteners - Calling Bill Roberts


#1

Can someone give me a rundown of the issues with artificial sweeteners, in particular:

Sucralose
Sorbitol
Stevia
Aspartame

Are some OK in small amounts like gum. Do they mess with gut flora. Do they cause cancer. Do they possibly raise blood sugar or cause glycation (especially in diabetics).

Thanks


#2

Artificial sweeteners may not effect the body to any noticeable degree, but they definitely influence human behavior.

I would be careful about conditioning your brain to require sugar consumption throughout the day. Imo, artificial sweetener usage is like using fake drugs…your brain is smart enough to know it is fake…and, when you go off your diet, you will crave the real drug like effects of sugar…


#3

So far as I know it’s impossible to really prove the point from published studies, other than that it’s possible to show that some assertions are unsupported or even nonsensical. (Alleged methanol toxicity from aspartame being the specific one I have in mind there.)

It may well be the case that artificial sweeteners disrupt the gut microbiota. It’s demonstrated in animals, not proven in humans, not disproven either.

It may well be the case that artificial sweeteners disrupt the brain’s ability to regulate caloric intake, by confounding the natural relationship between perceived sweetness and actual caloric intake. It’s demonstrated in animals, but again neither proven nor disproven in humans.

If there’s an indirect result of increasing blood sugar, I don’t know of it.

My suggestion in general is to try avoiding them. Some absolutely are persuaded by experience that they do better with avoiding them, others not. It’s easy enough to try.

If there is disturbance of gut microbiota, then I don’t at all think that occasional small intake will make much difference.

As total guesswork, if there’s an effect on appetite regulation, I’d personally guess that occasional small intake would not disrupt that ability much.


#4

Personal experience is, the longer you go without any of these, the less you feel the need to eat ANYTHING sweet, and the more awful industrial sugar tastes. Can only be good to avoid. But that is pretty much the same with lots of industrial foods

The fact that sucralose is super effective to kill fire ants made me reconsider going higher than once a day at most. But if there is a study that shows that daily consumption of one single workout-drink with sucralose disrupts gut health, I’d be surprised


#5

can artificial sweeteners trick your body to release more insulin?


#6

I’ve done my own studies with artificial sweeteners and blood sugar using a glucometer. Consumption of artificial sweeteners seems to have no effect on my blood sugar. If it triggered insulin release, my blood sugar would have dropped, but it didn’t.

Now here’s the oddity. My herbalist tells me that the mere sense of tastes on the tongue are sufficient to trigger initial hormonal reactions to foods. The taste of sweetness can trigger the start of hormonal responses through out the body and digestive track in anticipation of sugar consumption. (As can other tastes.) Bullshit you say? What does an herbalist know, right?

Well, I went in for an upper GI scan a while back, and at one point the radiologist tells me to “think about my favorite food”. I had to ask why. He said the mere thought of food will trigger release of digestive enzymes and start contractions in the stomach. Holy crap! This is a real doctor saying this, and he’s doing stomach scans that prove it.

The point being that we know the body responds in ways that we routinely ignore and treat as trivial, yet we distort the body’s correct reactions with artificial sweeteners, flavors, etc. and ignore the possible consequences. It’s certainly possible that artificial sweeteners distort the body’s responses in ways other than insulin release (nd destroying the gut flora), and the long term effect of these distortions could be damaging. Of course, nobody bothers to research this, so we don’t know for sure.


#7

BTW, stevia is not an “artificial” sweetener, since it is a plant extract.


#8

[quote]yorik wrote:
BTW, stevia is not an “artificial” sweetener, since it is a plant extract.[/quote]

Yeah but, Stevia tastes like bitter shit.


#9

[quote]yorik wrote:
I’ve done my own studies with artificial sweeteners and blood sugar using a glucometer. Consumption of artificial sweeteners seems to have no effect on my blood sugar. If it triggered insulin release, my blood sugar would have dropped, but it didn’t.

Now here’s the oddity. My herbalist tells me that the mere sense of tastes on the tongue are sufficient to trigger initial hormonal reactions to foods. The taste of sweetness can trigger the start of hormonal responses through out the body and digestive track in anticipation of sugar consumption. (As can other tastes.) Bullshit you say? What does an herbalist know, right?

Well, I went in for an upper GI scan a while back, and at one point the radiologist tells me to “think about my favorite food”. I had to ask why. He said the mere thought of food will trigger release of digestive enzymes and start contractions in the stomach. Holy crap! This is a real doctor saying this, and he’s doing stomach scans that prove it.

The point being that we know the body responds in ways that we routinely ignore and treat as trivial, yet we distort the body’s correct reactions with artificial sweeteners, flavors, etc. and ignore the possible consequences. It’s certainly possible that artificial sweeteners distort the body’s responses in ways other than insulin release (nd destroying the gut flora), and the long term effect of these distortions could be damaging. Of course, nobody bothers to research this, so we don’t know for sure.[/quote]

Part of the remaining question here is, “are 0 calorie sweeteners changing the way your body responds to real sugar?” If the artificial stuff isn’t doing anything to insulin/blood sugar a possible reason is your body has stop responding to sweet tastes like it naturally should. So there could be negative consequences when you go for the regular coke instead of your normal diet one.

To the original question:
What I tell people who ask is that taste is a part of your body’s glucose control mechanism. Even if the artificial sweetener isn’t giving you cancer or messing up your gut, it is messing with the control system in a way it wasn’t evolved to do.

I eat virtually no sugar (for years now) and can’t even force myself to drink a soft drink, diet or regular. Things like strawberries are about the limit of my palate nowadays.


#10

[quote]xXSeraphimXx wrote:
Yeah but, Stevia tastes like bitter shit.[/quote]
I don’t get that. It works pretty well for me, but maybe my taste buds are damaged. :slight_smile: Others complain about the bitterness.

Maybe it depends on the type you use. I tried some whole plant stevia that was brown colored and it was worthless. I stick with the purified white stevia.


#11

[quote]D Public wrote:
Artificial sweeteners may not effect the body to any noticeable degree, but they definitely influence human behavior.[/quote]

I’m inclined to believe this is due to gut flora, as described in this article:

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
It may well be the case that artificial sweeteners disrupt the gut microbiota. It’s demonstrated in animals, not proven in humans, not disproven either.[/quote]

I found a studying demonstrating similar gut flora alterations in both rats & humans:

It’s behind a paywall, but you can still view the extract. The authors have also linked the regular consumption of artificial sweeteners to glucose intolerance, but I’d have to read the whole study before I’m convinced.

[quote]yorik wrote:

[quote]xXSeraphimXx wrote:
Yeah but, Stevia tastes like bitter shit.[/quote]
I don’t get that. It works pretty well for me, but maybe my taste buds are damaged. :slight_smile: Others complain about the bitterness.[/quote]

I’ve heard Stevia can have a bitter, licorice-like taste if you use too much of it, but I haven’t used it enough to confirm this.

As other have already said, I suppose the best answer to the artificial sweetener dilemma is “always in moderation.”

But let’s be honest - artificial sweeteners are added to supplements purely for marketing purposes. Personally, I couldn’t care less how a supplement tastes so long as I’m getting the physiological benefits, but this may not be a common opinion.

I think Brain Candy is a fantastic energy supplement, even without the added caffeine, but since it has artificial sweeteners, I’m hesitant to use it often, which means I’m not going to buy it as often.


#12

In previous non-scientific research on the same topic, I basically found that most are worse for insulin spikes than sugar EXCEPT sucralose… though, in a thread in BSL, EyeDentist mentioned a study that found just the taste of something sweet, without the actual ingestion triggers a small insulin spike.


#13

There’s a link between artificial sweeteners and anxiety right?

I found artificial sweeteners in large doses to really affect me negatively


#14

Just a personal anecdote -hair has been slowly thinning for about 10 years.
Went through a period of 3 months where was drinking a ton of coke zero/diet coke/sugar free red bull etc to get through late nights and hairloss dramtically sped up. Now swapped for coffee and avoid aspartame like the plague and things have plateaued/the remaining hair slightly thicker even


#15

@rampant badger
wow… did you change something else in the diet!?
or did you just cut the soda for more hair`?
would be crazy! :slight_smile:

@all
do you know how I can cure the addiction!?

I heard its about magnesium (?) deficits and cravings to rely on diet sodas…
tried 3 times to stop but usually it just works about 1 week or less :confused:
ideas?


#16

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious but anyone using Biotest supplements is taking in quite a lot of sucralose, right? Flavoring for Plazma, MAG-10, even Metabolic Drive has it…