Looks like science is ripping another little bit of comfort out of our vise-like grip. No more flour. No more butter. No more sugar. And now, even the pale imitation of those former glories is being taken from us. They won’t be happy until it’s all kale, all the time.
Low-cal sweeteners contribute to diabetes. We can wish they didn’t. And maybe future research can find a catch, or a workaround. Or maybe we can! Let’s noodle around in the weeds.
The researchers tested sucralose in a Petri dish full of stem cells (and another one full of fat cells). They were trying to reproduce the bodily environment that gives rise to fat. And the sucralose made the stem cells (and the fat cells) fatter.
They Think They Know Why Low-Cal Sweeteners Contribute to Diabetes
At least a couple of things might be going on.
Low-Cal Sweeteners Promote Glucose Transporters: Glucose transporters are the genes that “escort” glucose into the cells. So the more active the glucose transporters are, the more glucose they get into the cells. And low-cal sweeteners promote glucose transporter activity.
It’s important to know that low-cal sweeteners seem to make metabolic syndrome worse for people who are fat or obese. Researchers believe that may be because people who are already at least somewhat fat probably also have some insulin resistance.
In other words, overweight people probably already have more sugar in their blood than normal weight people. And when the glucose transporters ramp up their activity, there’s more sugar in the blood to pull into fat cells. And turn into fat. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Low-Cal Sweeteners Promote Oxygen Radical Accumulation: You’ve heard of free radicals? Oxygen radicals are the most common type. And they’re really destructive. So if they’re accumulating in a cell, that cell is taking some damage. So the cell can’t work as well, metabolism slows down, and more fat accumulates on the body.
Here’s a Catch: They were only testing sucralose! Well, it’s something.
Big Good News
There are some new low-cal sweeteners available! For instance, allulose is looking good in tests. It looks as if it really promotes fat loss. Other alternatives: tagatose, sugar alcohols, and more research. So when they ask the question, “Do low-cal sweeteners contribute to diabetes?” We can say “Not mine!”