Artificial sweeteners are something we get asked about a lot. A study in the journal Diabetes Care says that the sweetener, which is marketed as a harmless sugar alternative to consumers, including those who are diabetic, can actually help pave the way to diabetes. Just be sure that you count the carbohydrate content. And it may be through a relationship with gut bacteria (“gut microbiome”) – an exciting, emerging field of diabetes and obesity research. Opponents of artificial sweeteners believe that they can trigger a response that increases insulin release, which can cause weight gain, rather than loss. This causes you to then continuously crave sugar — the more artificial sugar you eat, the more you’re likely to crave actual sugar, and the vicious cycle of cravings continue. He decided to experiment on himself.
…there is a lot of alarming information out there floating around the Internet. Interestingly, according to information from GreenMedInfo.com, the discovery of sucralose was accidental, since pesticide researchers came across it after noting that it is a close relative to the banned pesticide DDT. Replace these with two diet sodas (diet sodas are usually sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame K) to save yourself about 300 calories and almost 80 grams of carbohydrate! Next, the researchers cleared the mice’s gut of all bacteria, which reversed the glucose-intolerance effects in the artificial sweetener group. The theory behind the idea that artificial sweeteners can trigger an insulin rise states that sweet foods or substances set off a chemical reaction that leads to insulin release, even when no carbohydrate is consumed. And, unlike other sweeteners, it does not have a bitter aftertaste, giving it the illusion that you’re consuming real sugar. Huber has a hypothesis to explain the abnormalities he saw in his own blood work and in previous research: “It has recently become clear that the same sweet receptors found on the tongue also line the small intestine.
When you learn the real underlying reasons for weight gain, you will realize that switching to sugar substitutes as a way to lose weight without addressing your overall diet is completely misguided. And, what if chronic, heavy consumption of these sweeteners overstimulates these receptors, preventing them from responding normally to food?” he says. This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. Finally, in a small trial, the researchers fed artificial sweeteners to people who did not normally consume artificial sweeteners, only to show that those individuals also developed glucose intolerance and a change in their microbiome that mirrored what happened in mice who consumed artificial sweeteners. An abstract presented at the June 2009 Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society by the National Institutes of Health reviewed data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Aspartame is another one of the most popular sugar substitutes out on the market today. As food passes through the small intestine, the sweet receptors pick up its sugar content, prompting the release of incretin hormones, including one known as GLP-1, which tell the pancreas to begin releasing insulin.
It did show a modest decrease in weight (1.76 lbs), yet a slight increase in BMI (0.3 points), with intake of artificial sweeteners. The test Huber gave himself is known as a glucose tolerance test, and it involves drinking a solution that contains a defined amount of sugar, then monitoring blood sugar levels over two hours. The first test revealed abnormally high blood sugar during the two-hour interval; but after he put his soda habit on hiatus for three weeks and retested himself, those levels returned to normal. The trial follows a roughly similar format: Researchers track participants’ blood sugar and incretin hormone levels while drinking diet soda, during a three-week abstention, and then again after the participants have resumed consuming it. The researchers also monitor the microbes inhabiting participants’ guts, which may play a role in metabolic changes, including those associated with artificial sweeteners. Russell L. Sweet receptors belong to this group, as do other receptors crucial to our senses.
It should be studied further because there is increasing evidence for gut bacteria playing an important role in metabolic health. The biology of G protein-coupled receptors is responsible; depending on the amount of stimulation they receive, these receptors can become desensitized or sensitized. The ongoing trial is studying dedicated diet soda drinkers who consume at least 36 ounces a day, and are in general good health. Additional detailed information about this study is available here.