Originally posted by merkins
I also would also question the statement that low or zero calorie sweeteners have no effect on blood glucose levels. I was informed last year by a
nutritionist that sweeteners can trick the body into thinking its ingesting sugar and therefore the body can react exactly the same way. Surely that
would effect the glucose levels in some way
Tricky question, which artificial sweetener did you have in mind? First, I'll clarify what effect sugar ingestion has on glucose levels, and then
what effect glucose levels have on the body.
When the body's blood sugar levels increase, the pancreas releases insulin to convert the excess glucose to glycogen. Glycogen is a large insoluble
molecule, and is stored in muscle tissue/liver etc. When the body's blood sugar levels decrease, the opposite of insulin is released, called
glucagon. This takes glycogen and converts it to glucose.
Glycogen is like fat, but not as long term. It's easier to access than fat, and is the reason marathon runners hit "the wall" after a certain
distance. The body likes to burn energy in this order: glucose - glycogen - fat. Fat does have much more energy stored in it, but it is much harder
and takes longer to be released, compared with the near instant energy release of glucose.
The reason your body regulates its blood glucose level is to do with water potential and solubility. The more stuff in your blood, the thicker it is.
That means it has less water by % than the cytoplasm in your cells, which makes water move from your cells to your blood. Your cells shrivel,
processes slow and your blood pressure increases. Getting rid of glucose when it gets too concentrated prevents this. Low blood sugar (which is the
thing we're most concerned with when answering your question) causes the opposite effect, it increases the water potential of the blood, causing the
water in your blood to move in to your cells. This can damage cells and mess around with homeostasis, but on the whole isn't too dangerous in
Interestingly, the feeling of low blood sugar levels can be likened to a mini-hangover, but not enough of one to be consciously noticeable. This could
lead to chronic depression and anxiety in some people. Enough to have a causative relationship with suicide? I doubt it, but I'd press for it to be
investigated none the less. I would definitely expect at least a significant quality of life reduction in sufferers, which may have a more credible
causative relation with suicide.
Back to your original question though, do sweeteners affect blood sugar levels?
A quick google on the subject:
Aspartame has no effect on insulin levels.
Saccharin may have an effect on insulin levels.
ame K may have an effect on insulin levels.
Sucralose may have an effect on insulin levels.
Conclusion: inconclusive. I'll check the sources on that site directly when I have more time tonight and report back.