Diabetes & Diet – How Artificial Sweeteners Can Raise Blood Sugar

When artificial sweeteners first entered the food market, everyone rejoiced at the innovative product. Not only are they several times sweeter than the regular white sugar, but they also provide very few calories and have little to no effect on the glycemia. Purported as the “miracle sugar substitute,” makers of these nonnutritive sweeteners targeted people living with diabetes and struggling with their weight.

However, their reputation suffered a dip when science-minded experts discovered that  sugar substitutes aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong: they are legitimately calorie-free and do not directly affect glycemia, but these crafty troublemakers have their way of disturbing the body in a more sophisticated manner.

Here are 3 ways artificial sweeteners can raise blood sugar (and may not be as inert as we are led to believe).

#1. Maintain Sweet Tooth

Have you tasted a cupcake that you deem too sweet, enough for you to give it pass, yet your friend manages to devour three of it?

The perception of sweetness depends, in part, on the level and frequency of exposure. Just think about it. The intensity of sweetness perceived by a person who regularly wolfs down high-sugary desserts vs. someone who rarely eats any sweets at all is sure to differ, right? You can compare this to drugs and the level of tolerance. Once you are used to a certain of level of sweetness, anything below that just doesn’t seem to hit the right ‘sugar-high’ spot.

Artificial sweeteners do just that. They allow your taste buds to grow accustomed to a degree of sweetness. The biggest problem is that sugar substitutes are often found in unhealthy types of food like soft drinks, popsicles, and chocolate syrup. By preserving your love for all things sweet, your blood sugar is at risk of suffering a spike.

Bottom line: Wean off sugar (once and for all) by training your taste buds to enjoy a lower level of sweetness.

#2. Stimulate Appetite

Several human and animal studies found that sugar substitutes may hold the ability to stimulate appetite in the brain. In doing so, people are prompted to eat more than they normally would, which could have an impact on postprandial blood sugar. With that said, the research is still debatable on the matter, including their ability to help with weight loss.

#3. Modify Gut Bacteria

With the research on the microbiota in full bloom, researchers have explored the impact of nonnutritive sweeteners on the gut bacteria. Some studies reported metabolic changes following the consumption of sugar substitutes, including the glycemic response. While artificial sweeteners are widely recognized for not raising blood sugar, recent findings are shedding doubt on this statement.

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