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Carbohydrates plus Sucralose gone bitter

Anyone who embarks a journey towards a healthy lifestyle knows that a healthy lifestyle is the net result of effective workout, balanced and clean diet, sufficient and comfortable sleep, and most importantly calm and awakened mind. A most common phrase which you will hear in the fitness world is “Eat Clean”, which simply means reducing the consumption of food which contains excessive salt and simple carbohydrates (processed sugar).

 The immediate impact which the body feels when eating simple carbohydrates(sugar) is a spike in insulin level.  This spike is a result of our body’s sensitivity towards glucose in bloodstreams also known as insulin sensitivity. The acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges (AMDR) are 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats and 10–35% from protein.

These macronutrients are further classified as simple or complex carbs and proteins, good fat or bad fat. The majority of energy must come from complex carbohydrates because if we eat more simple sugar our mindsets into the trap of dopamine loop. Although dopamine is a happiness hormone, being in a continuous dopamine loop has its adverse effect. To avoid these ill effects, corporations came up with artificial sweeteners as a substitute to processed sugar with fewer calories such as sucralose having less to no side effects. 

Combining carbs and sweeteners could affect insulin sensitivity

The new research paper published in Cell Metabolism by researchers from Yale University, the researchers indicate that a combination of artificial sweeteners and carbohydrates appears to lead to poorer insulin sensitivity in healthy adults. Insulin is a key hormone whose primary role is to regulate blood sugar. When insulin sensitivity is affected, many metabolic problems can develop, including diabetes. Like every other sense in the human body, the sense of taste serves the practical purpose of keeping our body healthy and being wary of poisonous plants and spoiled food. A healthy person’s sensitivity to sweet taste allows their body to release insulin into the blood when that person eats or drinks something sweet.

 

Sucralose plus carbs: Research and Result

The researcher divided the 45 healthy adults aged between 20 – 45 into two groups, who hardly consumed low – calorie sweeteners. The group members were asked to maintain their regular diet, except drinking 7 fruit-flavoured beverages in the laboratory which either contained artificial sweetener sucralose or regular sugar cube.

Some participants were given drinks sweetened with sucralose which also contained a carbohydrate called maltodextrin. After 2 weeks of trial and by conducting various tests including functional MRI scans before, during and after the trial. The tests allowed the scientists to assess any changes in the participants’ brain activity in response to different tastes — including sweet, sour, and salty — as well as to measure their taste perception and insulin sensitivity.

The results were surprising because participants who consumed drinks with sucralose and maltodextrin together showed altered brain responses to sweet taste as well as altered insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

To verify the validity of these findings, the researchers asked another group of participants to consume drinks containing either sucralose alone or maltodextrin alone over a further 7-day period. The team found that neither the sweetener on its own, nor the carbohydrate on its own seemed to interfere with sweet taste sensitivity or insulin sensitivity.

Why does the sweetener-carb combo impact part insulin sensitivity?

The researcher is yet to figure out the exact reason but Prof. Small suggests -“Perhaps the effect resulted from the gut generating inaccurate messages to send to the brain about the number of calories present,”.

She further added -“The gut would be sensitive to the sucralose and the maltodextrin and signal that twice as many calories are available than are present. Over time, these incorrect messages could produce negative effects by altering the way the brain and body respond to sweet taste,” 

As a result, suggested artificial sweeteners and carbohydrates consumed individually have no harmful effects. So if consuming any food having artificial sweeteners, then one must see that it is not consumed with other carbohydrates. For example, diet coke with french fries.

The researchers are planning to conduct a similar experiment involving natural origin sweeteners such as stevia or other artificial sweeteners that have similar effects such as sucralose. The researcher cautioned about the generalisation of these results to all sweeteners.  The main types of different sweeteners commonly incorporated into our foods and drinks (including sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and Ace-K) are metabolized differently and therefore will have different health effects.

Then what are smart choices? 

  1. Switch to water or fresh fruit juice without sugar.
  2. If a sweet tooth or have a sweet craving, then have it with less regular sugar.
  3. If you wish to consume less calorie through sweets, then you switch to natural sweeteners, such as, 

a. Stevia: Its a popular low-calorie sweetener extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana. This plant has been grown for sweetness and medicinal purposes for centuries in South America.

Several sweet compounds are found in stevia leaves. The main ones are stevioside and rebaudioside A. Both are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram.

b. Erythritol: It’s a sugar alcohol found naturally in certain fruits. However, powdered erythritol available for purchase is most likely made via an industrial process. It contains 0.24 calories per gram, or about 6% of the calories in an equal amount of sugar, with 70% of the sweetness.

Erythritol doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin levels and does not affect blood lipids like cholesterol or triglycerides. It’s absorbed into the body from the intestine but eventually excreted from the kidneys unchanged. Studies show that erythritol is very safe. However, as with other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive issues if you consume too much at a time. 

c. Xylitol: It is a sugar alcohol with a sweetness similar to sugar. It contains 2.4 calories per gram or about two-thirds of the 

  1. caloric value of sugar. Xylitol appears to have some benefits for dental health, reducing the risk of cavities and dental decay.

Xylitol doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels. However, as with other sugar alcohols, it can cause digestive side effects at high doses.

d. Yacon Syrup: It’s harvested from the yacon plant, which grows natively in the Andes in South America. It’s very high in fructooligosaccharides, which function as soluble fibres that feed the good bacteria in the intestine. Yacon syrup can help against constipation and has various benefits due to the high amount of soluble fibre.

  1. The other popular and healthy alternatives are Jaggery, Coconut Sugar, Date syrup, Molasses, Honey and Maple Syrup.

They may contain slightly smaller amounts of fructose and some tiny amount of nutrients, but your liver really won’t be able to tell the difference. However, the harmful effects of sugar depend completely on the context. Most of the studies are done in people who are already eating a high-carb, western junk food diet.

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