Artificial Sweeteners & Diabetes: Any Effect on Blood Sugar | Wockhardt Hospitals

Artificial Sweeteners & Diabetes: Any Effect on Blood Sugar

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Artificial sweeteners are factory-made substitutes of sugar which provide the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and advantame are some of the common artificial sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners are made many times sweeter than normal sugar, due to which it takes only a small amount of artificial sweetener to produce the same effect as a spoonful of sugar. As a result of using a very small amount of sweetener, very few calories are consumed. There are many uses of artificial sweeteners and diabetes patients find it the most useful.

However, artificial sweeteners are not quite as metabolically inert as previously believed. It has been claimed that artificial sweeteners can raise blood glucose and insulin levels, causing more complexities.

Types of Artificial Sweeteners

The types of artificial sweeteners which can be used for making low calorie sweeteners and diabetes patients can also use include the following.

  • Saccharin
  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Acesulfame potassium or ace-K

What Causes Rise in Blood Sugar Levels?

There are many causes of rise in blood sugar levels:

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates present in various foods, mainly sweet foods, can increase blood sugar levels. White grain wheat, white rice, cakes and confectionery contain quite a high amount of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates help produce energy by breaking down into sugar, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. After absorption of carbohydrates in the form of sugar, the level of glucose in the blood rises, which in turn prompts the body to release insulin, a hormone which aids the body’s cells to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream, where it can be utilised to form energy or can be stored as fat. 
  • Fats: Fats present in foods can also be utilised to produce energy. Sweet foods particularly contain saturated fats that can  be stored in the liver as fat. Such sugars can be used in the event of low sugar levels in the blood.
  • Insulin: Insulin can also be released into the bloodstream in response to anticipation of the influx of sugar. In simple terms, the release of insulin can be triggered by taste, sight, smell, and even when chewing or swallowing food. This kind of insulin release response is known as cephalic phase insulin release. 

How Do Artificial Sweeteners Increase Blood Sugar Levels?

Artificial sweeteners may not trigger a high rise in blood sugar levels in the short term. However, some studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners can cause a change in the balance of gut bacteria. These bacteria may change the ability of the cells and make them resistant to the insulin produced in the body, thereby increasing the levels of blood sugar as well as insulin in the body. However, when added to foods and drinks such as coffee and baked foods, the artificial sweetener may not raise the blood sugar level, but the other ingredients in such foods can do so as well as lead to an increase in fat content and calories. 

Can Artificial Sweeteners be Used by Diabetic Patients?

Diabetes or prediabetes is caused by uncontrolled insulin production or due to insulin resistance, which raises the blood sugar level. Artificial sweeteners may not raise the blood sugar level. Hence, they can be used as a sugar substitute for diabetics but in moderation as per the doctor’s advice. 

When it comes to artificial sweeteners and diabetes, these sweeteners may not necessarily be labelled as “healthy”, but they are considered safer and “less bad” for consumption compared to refined sugar. Artificial sweeteners can be a good addition to maintaining a balanced diet. However, the different types of artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, neotame, aspartame, etc., have varying effects on the level of insulin production. Therefore, it is better to consult a healthcare provider before starting with any artificial sweeteners for patients with diabetes or prediabetes.

How Artificial Sweeteners Can Be Used by Diabetic Patients?

People often tend to associate the rise in blood sugar levels as a problem. It doesn’t necessarily mean so. A spike in blood sugar level is a necessary process required by the body to produce the required energy for the body. However, it becomes a problem when the body is unable to bring the blood sugar level back to normal in a timely manner while the body becomes more resistant to the insulin produced by the body itself. This is what happens in people with prediabetes or type-2 diabetes.

People living with prediabetes or diabetes likely already know how to manage blood glucose levels, and the first and foremost thing to adopt is to avoid sugar at all costs. But everyone experiences sweet cravings once in a while, so what should diabetic people do? To add sweetness to foods, diabetic patients can add artificial sweeteners instead of using regular sugar.

When talking of artificial sweeteners and blood sugar, it is better to be gradual and moderate while including these sugar substitutes. It is definitely a good step towards a better health profile. Following this, diabetic and prediabetic patients can work on reducing how much or how often sweet foods are consumed. Even for people who are not diabetic, it is better to avoid getting blood sugar spikes frequently as it may lead to diabetes in the long term and make it tougher to lose weight.

Get Best Medical Help at Wockhardt Hospitals

The best way to understand your blood sugar levels if you are concerned is to get a blood sugar test done by visiting the highly experienced doctor or healthcare provider at Wockhardt Hospitals. Comprehensive medical consultation and precise diagnostic testing will help understand if any changes need to be made in food habits and lifestyle to avoid developing diabetes. For consultation with the best primary care doctors in India for diabetes treatment, book your appointment at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mumbai, Maharashtra and get a complete sugar profile test with accurate evaluation and analysis.

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