Friday, September 19, 2014

Artificial Sweeteners and Glucose Intolerance

Do you consume artificial sweeteners? I have to confess that I do. It's one of those guilty pleasures that I indulge in: I have the vague sense that these chemicals cannot possibly be good for me, yet dang. I really love Diet Pepsi. I've tried repeatedly to quit drinking the stuff but somehow I end up with a bubbly glassful in my hand far too often.

After reading this article, thanks to a Sjogren's Forum tweet, I've decided that I'm going cold turkey and give all Nutrasweet, Splenda, and all their other artificial sweetener pals the boot from our house. Read this from the New York Times Well column, entitled Artificial Sweeteners May Disrupt Body’s Blood Sugar Controls written by Kenneth Chang:
Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, causing metabolic changes that can be a precursor to diabetes, researchers are reporting.
That is “the very same condition that we often aim to prevent” by consuming sweeteners instead of sugar, said Dr. Eran Elinav, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, at a news conference to discuss the findings.
The scientists performed a multitude of experiments, mostly on mice, to back up their assertion that the sweeteners alter the microbiome, the population of bacteria that is in the digestive system. 
The different mix of microbes, the researchers contend, changes the metabolism of glucose, causing levels to rise higher after eating and to decline more slowly than they otherwise would. 
The findings by Dr. Elinav and his collaborators in Israel, including Eran Segal, a professor of computer science and applied mathematics at Weizmann, are being published Wednesday by the journal Nature.
So buh bye, Crystal Light. I do a great job keeping me pudgy all by myself. I don't need your help, thank you very much.


Betsi said...

The New York Times article about this study ended with this paragraph:

Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health who did not take part in the study, called it interesting but far from conclusive and added that given the number of participants, “I think the validity of the human study is questionable.”

I think I will continue to add aspartame to my tea for now. My fasting glucose rose to 101 2 years ago, but has dropped back to 88, even though I continue to drink a diet Pepsi every day (yes, I've tried to quit too!). So I'll just wait for more conclusive evidence.

Charla said...

This article and study used the word "may." That is not conclusive enough for me to give up Splenda (sucralose) or my Diet Hansen's Root Beer every day. This drink is the only thing I have found that helps with my dry mouth and throat. I'll take my chances with sucralose because it helps with my quality of life.

Betsi said...

This is starting to sound like the old butter vs. margarine question -- which is the lesser of the two evils? I don't see myself drinking plain water for the rest of my life.

Julia Oleinik said...

Great conversation! Good points.

annie said...

I never use soft drinks (don't like them), and don't use sugar in tea or coffee. If I drink anything, I'd rather have real sugar than artificial sweeteners, but to each his own.

For myself, I worry because I have enough health issues, and especially gut issues to keep me away from anything that's processed or not derived from natural sources, but more studies may need to be done.