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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 03, 2011

Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause an Insulin Spike?

By Mark Sisson
212 Comments

The notion that artificial sweeteners (and sweet tastes in general) might produce an insulin response is one of those murky memes that winds itself around the blogs, but it’s never stated one way or the other with any sort of confidence. I briefly mentioned the possibility of non-caloric sweeteners influencing satiety hormones in last week’s diet soda post, and a number of you guys mentioned the same thing. Still, I’ve never seen unequivocal evidence that this is the case.

This whole idea first came to my attention some time ago when my dog Buddha got into a bottle of “alternative sleep assists” which contained, among other things, 5 HTP (version of l-tryptophan) and xylitol (sugar alcohol). Long story short, dogs can’t take xylitol because it causes a spike in insulin, which then severely depletes blood glucose. Buddha got past this with a trip to the vet’s at 10:30 Sunday night (thanks, Dr. Dean). But it occurred to me that the same effect might be seen in humans, which is why I pose the question today…

Do artificial sweeteners induce insulin secretion (perhaps via cephalic phase insulin release, which is sort of the body’s preemptive strike against foods that will require insulin to deal with)?

One of the reasons a definitive answer is rarely given is that the question is improperly framed. Artificial sweeteners is not a monolithic entity. There are multiple types of sweeteners, all of them chemically distinct from each other. A more useful question would be “What effect does [specific artificial sweetener goes here] have on insulin?” So let’s go around the circle and ask.

Does aspartame (aka Equal and Nutrasweet) affect insulin?

Aspartame is pretty gross stuff, what with its awful taste and hordes of people who get terrible reactions from consuming it, but that’s not what we’re interested in today. Luckily, there is a good amount of research explaining what, if any, effect aspartame has on insulin secretion.

One study found that protein produced a significant insulin response, while aspartame had no effect on insulin levels.

Another also found that aspartame had no effect on the insulin response in humans, whether alone or combined with carbohydrates.

Another earlier study (full PDF) examined the effects of aspartame on prolactin, cortisol, growth hormone, insulin, and blood glucose levels and found it had none. The authors used the same amount of aspartame you’d find in a standard artificially-sweetened drink but were unable to record any significant hormonal alterations.

A study of forty-eight healthy volunteers found no evidence that aspartame has an effect on insulin levels.

Overall, the evidence seems to suggest little, if any, effect on insulin secretion as a result of tasting or consuming aspartame.

Does saccharin (aka Sweet’N Low) affect insulin?

Although saccharin has lingered in obscurity and consumer banishment (who ever really picks Sweet ‘n’ Low, anyway?) for most of the last couple decades (until recently when the EPA dubbed it safe for human consumption), there is some research on its effects on insulin.

In one study, fasted human subjects swished around eight different taste solutions for 45 seconds, and then spat them out. No swallowing. Only the sucrose and saccharin solutions activated a cephalic phase insulin release.

On the other hand, another study using humans found the opposite: swishing and spitting sweet solutions (even caloric ones using sucrose) did not elicit CPIR, while another study found that neither saccharin nor aspartame influenced insulin secretion in both fasted diabetics and non-diabetics (although aspartame-fed subjects had slightly higher insulin levels than the control and saccharin groups, this was physiologically irrelevant given the steady blood glucose levels).

The evidence for saccharin’s effect on insulin is mixed, but either way, it doesn’t appear to have too big of an impact in real world terms.

Does acesulfame K (aka Sunett and Sweet One) affect insulin?

In one study, researchers found that direct transfusions of acesulfame K increased insulin secretion in rats in a dose-dependent fashion. The same researchers performed an in vitro study, subjecting isolated rat pancreatic islets to acesulfame K solutions, and found that the artificial sweetener was an independent actor on insulin secretion. Both indicate that there is some effect, but it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from in vitro rat studies using isolated pancreatic cells or in vivo rat studies using direct transfusions of sweeteners (as opposed to oral dosing).

Another study using isolated pancreatic cells found that only those artificial sweeteners with a bitter aftertaste (acesulfame K, saccharin, stevia, and cyclamate) augmented the insulin response in the presence of glucose. Aspartame, which does not have a bitter aftertaste, did not affect insulin. Note, though, that this was an in vitro study using isolated cells and that the presence of glucose was a prerequisite for insulin secretion. Of course, dieters slurping down artificial sweeteners do it during meals, most of which tend to feature large amounts of glucose.

Acesulfame K appears to affect insulin levels, although this effect has only been shown in contrived settings – either in the presence of glucose in isolated cells (in vitro), in isolated cells in without glucose (in vitro), or by direct transfusions without the presence of glucose (in vivo). We haven’t seen people orally taking acesulfame K in a fasted state and having an insulin response. Yet.

Does sucralose (aka Splenda) affect insulin?

Sucralose activates the sweet receptors in taste buds, and some in vitro studies have shown that sucralose can stimulate the release of incretin hormones, which increase the secretion of insulin, via the sweet taste receptors in enteroendocrine cells (located in the gut). An in vivo study of sucralose infusions into the gut, however, showed that it does not stimulate the incretin hormones GLP-1 or GIP, does not release insulin, and does not slow gastric emptying.

Another in vivo study, this time using healthy human subjects, got similar results: oral dosing of sucralose did not induce a cephalic insulin response, nor did it affect GLP-1. Not even appetite was affected.

The commercial version of sucralose, Splenda, is cut with dextrose as a bulking agent. Dextrose is essentially glucose, which certainly elicits an insulin response, so there’s definitely the potential for a slight insulin response to Splenda, but there’s not much if any evidence that sucralose has an independent in vivo effect on insulin.

Recently, a review of in vivo studies concluded that “low-energy sweeteners” do not have any of the effects on insulin, appetite, or blood glucose predicted by “in vitro, in situ, or knockout studies in animals.” As far as the clinical studies go, I think I’d have to agree. Am I going to use the stuff? No; there are other potential negative effects to artificial sweetener usage, including gut flora disturbances, the promotion of psychological dependencies on sweets, and long term safety issues, but I think it’s important to be clear on where the science lies. So far as I can tell, according to the literature there isn’t an appreciable insulin effect from most sweeteners.

Still, some people anecdotally report an effect. As Jimmy Moore says, “The bottom line is to check your own blood sugar response and see how it impacts YOU.” Word. If you need to know (and most people don’t), testing yourself would be the way to do it.

Let me know if I’ve missed something, or come up short in my analysis. There’s a lot of stuff out there and it’s possible that I’ve overlooked something. And as always, I’d love to hear about your personal experiences with artificial sweeteners, especially regarding their effect on your weight loss/gain, insulin, appetite, and dietary success/failure. Let me know in the comment section!

P.S. If you’re new here and aren’t sure what all the fuss over insulin is about start here: The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes (and you’ll understand it)

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212 Comments on "Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause an Insulin Spike?"

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Rhys
Rhys
5 years 7 months ago
Before going primal, I used splenda in everything. I would get so used to that insanely sweet taste that I would slowly add more and more splenda to my food (yogurt, cottage cheese, baking, etc) until I was just buying the big bags of granulated splenda and dumping it on top of my food with cinnamon. Since I switched to the PB lifestyle, I have kicked splenda completely and have gained a new appreciation for all the flavors of full fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and coconut milk. Also, another drawback that I experienced with Splenda was its effects on overeating.… Read more »
Sabrina
Sabrina
5 years 7 months ago

I am suffering from Binge Eating disorder and i always thought there was no ‘cure’..

but just kicking out sugar and sweetners did it for you?

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
5 years 7 months ago

Sabrina, I also have an eating disorder and have found the same thing with artificial sweeteners. Sweets go right to the “reward center” of the brain and it is so hard to stop eating them. Kicking the sugar habit REALLY helped me stop bingeing.

Rhys
Rhys
5 years 7 months ago

It was that easy for me. Ever since I kicked the carbs and splenda 4 months ago, I haven’t binged one time.

Holly J.
Holly J.
5 years 7 months ago

There are specific “trigger foods” for different people. Generally it’s something sweet or commercially produced. If people with these disorders stay away from them they will not have the triggers to start binging. Plus, it’s really hard to eat an entire 1/4th of a cow at one seating. They’d be stuffed way before they did a lot of damage.

bee
5 years 7 months ago

kicking out sugar, wheat, then grains – any insulin spikers – did it for me.

Ruben
5 years 7 months ago
I applaud your effort to kick all those artificial sweeterners, i think they are absolute garbage, and powerful neuro-toxins. Long time ago i read something pertaining to artifical sweetners and how they triggered, blood sugar levels in the body, in short i read that they affect the appestat, a region of the hypothalamus that triggers appetite. And how also the second the body tastes something sweet thru the receptors and gustatory glands in the tongue mainly, in short that body will release insuling to put to work all that sweet material. I was my understanding that the seconds this happens… Read more »
Marc
Marc
5 years 5 months ago

>Long time ago i read something pertaining to artifical sweetners and how they triggered, blood sugar levels in the body, in short i read that they affect the appestat, a region of the hypothalamus that triggers appetite.

Nice, except that this is invalidated by just about all the information in the article.

K
K
5 months 15 days ago
The way that noncaloric sweeteners (at least artifical ones, I don’t know if it’s been tested with stevia) affect appetite is more subtle than what this article discusses. Binding to sweetness GPCRs still sends a message to brain, and when that *fails* to be followed by glucose delivery (and I guess, associated insulin spike) it essentially teaches the brain that sweetness doesn’t mean nutrition, which increases appetite with a delay of hours to days. I’m at work so I can’t link to sources right now, but look for a study involving rats and isocaloric yogurt drinks with artificial or sugar… Read more »
Leeroy
Leeroy
5 years 7 months ago

AGREED!……I have had the same experience. I now get instant headaches with the use of sucralose. (not worth even looking at the stuff) Aspartame leaves me craving, xylotol has a cold sharp taste and is a catalyst for a binge.
However, I can tolerate a bit of stevia in my starbucks. I have found that finding and eating foods how God made them has worked “swimmingly” for me.

Bryce Leo
Bryce Leo
5 years 7 months ago
I really feel the need to “pile on” here. I used to use sweeteners like splenda all of the time, tons of sugar and diet soda. And I would always say “I don’t know why I never feel full.” I started college in 2004 and finished December 2008. I went from 178-245. After 2 years of full time employment later I was 277 January 3rd 2011. I got that heavy WHILE counting calories. I couldn’t stop eating and was totally out of control. I would forget to pay attention while eating and not realize I’m full till I realize I’m… Read more »
Naomi
Naomi
2 years 1 day ago

Hiya – what do you mean by primal/4hb? I know the paleo diet…

Guessing
Guessing
1 year 11 months ago

I’m guessing he means “4 Hour Body”, in which Tim Ferris talks about a “slow carb” diet that is largely primal, with some exceptions.

Bella
Bella
4 years 8 months ago
Ok, so I’m not the only one binging after using splenda. I started using this about 1 year ago or so. I started developing a binge issue in October. This is so not like me. I have always eaten healthy, and never had any issue with food what so ever. It gradually got worse until today where I binge every day (sometimes several times a day). I have looked for several causes until today, when I thought Splenda might be a cause. Binging is so not like me, I thought there has to be an external source, and I think… Read more »
Temujin
Temujin
4 years 26 days ago

Agree with what you are saying, the article is about artificial sweetener and insulin level, it would have been better if you could have added something of your experience to help others, instead of letting us know of how you got addicted to sweetness.

Dill
Dill
3 years 11 months ago

agreed. splenda made me gain weight on binge eating. before that i didn’t at all, even though i was bingeing (which is freaky i know). i too think it’s the “reward centre” thing which may rewire the brain.
i’m perfectly healthy and fine now, but i wouldn’t touch splenda or aspartarme with a ten foot pole

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
3 years 5 months ago

What’s “PB”?

Aden
Aden
3 years 5 months ago

PB is short for Primal Blueprint it’s anawesome book by Mark Sisson

Desiree
Desiree
2 years 6 months ago

Also don’t touch anything fat-free or low-fat dairy. Skim milk is used to make pigs gain weight. Their body realizes something is missing from the milk so they try to compensate by eating more. Gluten also makes people eat an estimated 400 calories more a day when it is eaten. I’ve noticed if I even touch it through a wheat contaminated soy sauce I become insatiably hungry. Such a careful line to walk …

Petter
Petter
2 years 6 months ago

Perhaps one of the most unfounded comments currently on the interwebs.

Des
Des
2 years 6 months ago
Des
Des
2 years 6 months ago
Petter you may have too much time on your hands to know all of the inter web comments at this time. LOL I read comments all the time too because though sometimes they are nonsense they usually state more about the state of the planet, humans and human world views than the articles published. Trolls are annoying though because when you are looking for information below a thought imposed there are a ton of comments with no purpose; insults(esp. between world views), noise makers for the sake of making noise OR to distract from the real information that is coming… Read more »
jupiter
jupiter
5 years 7 months ago

I was surprised that you didn’t mention stevia

Hunter
Hunter
5 years 7 months ago

Stevia is not mentioned here because it is not an “artificial” sweetener.

Primal
Primal
5 years 7 months ago

I’d like to see an article comparing them all. Because stevia ‘artificial’ or not, is still processed.

Kitty
Kitty
5 years 7 months ago

Agreed. I am a big stevia fan and would really like to know if it causes problems with my insulin levels.

Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago

Anything you eat is processed. If you cut your steak, it’s processed. It was processed before then actually, since cows don’t come pre-sliced.

Words are slippery at the best of times but using imprecise language doesn’t exactly help.

HeMan
HeMan
5 years 7 months ago

There’s something up with Stevia. Every time I’ve tried it I get massive stomach cramps.

… and every once in a while I find it in the cupboard and forget that fact and experience it all over again.

Josh
Josh
5 years 7 months ago

What!?!? you’re comparing stevia to steak…?

Diane the Purple
Diane the Purple
5 years 7 months ago

Well, it’s sweet without being sugar. That meets some of the criteria of being “artificially sweet”. 😛

o.b.
o.b.
5 years 7 months ago

I love Stevia and you don’t have to buy processed stevia. You can grow it as an herb in your garden as I do and then use the dried leaves to complement your foods, I like it in tea or yogurt crushed up.

Steve
Steve
5 years 7 months ago

“alternative sleep assists” – doesn’t sound very primal. 🙂

What is it, exactly?

Mark Sisson
5 years 7 months ago

My wife was going through menopause and wanted to try an herbal remedy to help her sleep when the hot flashes were hitting hard. She tried a few, including this. She used the stuff once or twice and abandoned it.

Ham-bone
Ham-bone
5 years 7 months ago

Talk about transparency! I’m always blown away by your honesty and integrity (primal fuel introduction discussion anyone?). Grok on!

Holly J.
5 years 7 months ago

Has she tried valerian root tincture? That knocks everyone out and gives them a long peaceful slumber but the herb smells like dirty feet. Red clover and a few other herbs for females (blue cohash for one) might calm the hot flashes.

Just a thought.

Minxxa
Minxxa
5 years 7 months ago

I like the valerian as well… when I’m having sleep issues I’ll take melatonin AND valerian and the valerian seems to help with quality of sleep, and sleeping deeper.

But yes, smells AND TASTES like dirty gym socks.

I made my hubs take it once when he had vertigo and he was disgusted. 🙂

Mary
Mary
5 years 7 months ago

I think you might’ve meant Black Cohosh – I used it for several months while my hormones were settling down & it nearly saved my sanity. Darn hot flashes!

Monica
Monica
5 years 4 months ago

fyi
Valerian is less likely to help ‘Type A’ persons. It has the opposite effect.

Jules
Jules
4 years 6 months ago

Anyone considering taking natural remedies should consult a professional. Black and blue cohosh, for instance, can bring on labor and cause a miscarriage. Generally not a problem for someone who is peri-menopausal, I know. I’m just sayin’, natural remedies can also have unwanted side-effects.

Tara
5 years 7 months ago

I used to be able to use splenda with lots of things, namely my coffee or tea, but now, I have a box of it sitting in my kitchen that I haven’t touched in months. If I really want something sweet, I’d rather use honey than put all those chemicals in my body! At some point it just came down to my picking natural (with calories, insulin bla bla) than the zero calorie chemical crap.

Katie
5 years 7 months ago

Even if they don’t cause an insulin response, any kind of sweetener will keep the body used to sweet tastes, and in my opinion, make the whole process of switching to eating real foods more difficult. I’ve noticed that clients I work with who use any sweetener, even stevia, in moderate to large amounts, take longer to get past the initial carb cravings, because they are still used to the taste.

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
5 years 7 months ago

I agree. If I chew gum that has artificial sweeteners, or eat sugar free candy, I just start to want real honest to god sugar.

I also feel like I get an insulin response when chewing gum. I haven’t tested that with a blood glucose meter, but it sure feels like it.

Foxygee
Foxygee
4 years 4 months ago
I absolutely agree. I don’t use completely ‘artificial’ sweeteners, just stevia or erythlitol, or dates, yet the cravings are still there. The more I indulge, the more I crave. It’s gotten so bad that now I had to ask my family to hide my blender (one of my favourite treats is cashewnut butter blended with erythritol, vanilla, and coconut flakes and maybe a bit of coconut oil), cocoa powder, stevia,erythritol, even the coconut flakes. As of Monday, I am quitting all forms of sweeteners, except for cinnamon. I also won’t blend my foods anymore and will quit high sugar fruits… Read more »
Reid
Reid
5 years 7 months ago
Do these studies actually report what happens in your brain after you ingest artificial sweeteners? I imagine the sweeteners’ effect on the “sweet receptors” in the brain and the subsequent instructions to your organs are the bigger problem. People are probably “sweet receptor” junkies as much as they are measureable-insulin-spike junkies. If they are this kind of junkie, they will keep going back to an artificial sweetener or natural one on the same kind of roller coaster. And the idea of a swish and spit test seems ridiculous. The real effects of this kind of ingestion happen when this stuff… Read more »
Mike
Mike
5 years 7 months ago

What about Stevia?

primal tree top
primal tree top
5 years 7 months ago
Humans and dogs and cats all process things differently. What may not be poison to a human can be lethal to a dog think chocolate. Also, their bodies do thinks that ours don’t like cats make their own vitimin C where human can’t. So, any test done on an animal other than a human we should view it with a grain of salt and understand that it may not really apply to us humans. All we really now for sure is that those animals in the test had a certian response. I think it is best to stick with something… Read more »
salim
5 years 7 months ago

8 years ago i was using artificial sweeteners for my oatmeal. when i cut it and replaced it with fruit, my energy levels increased , my mood has changed. Since last year i even cut the oatmeal and went 99.9% primal. so happy..even my teeth problems gone away since i am not getting any sugar at all.

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Poppabear
5 years 7 months ago

Good info Mark! I don’t see any that would be an acceptable substitute for the life we’ve taken on. Better to play it safe if you can and do without. Now that I’ve gone through all the issues with taking processed foods and sugars out of my diet, I don’t think I would want to experiment with them to see which ones didn’t have any insulin effects on me. LOL.

HeidiAnne
HeidiAnne
5 years 7 months ago

did you know that if you leave Equal in piles near where ants are invading your house, they will carry it back to their nests and kill off the whole colony… food for thought!

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
5 years 7 months ago

good to know to get rid of ants.

bokbadok
bokbadok
5 years 7 months ago

Great! I’ve been wondering what to do with that bag of Equal! haha

Ron
5 years 7 months ago

I heard the same thing,except use sugar.

Gena
5 years 7 months ago

You briefly mentioned xylitol in the first paragraph in regards insulin spikes in dogs, have you found it has a similar effect on humans. And how about other sugar alcohols, ie, malitol, erythritol? Anybody?

Gayle
Gayle
5 years 7 months ago

I use xylitol in moderation. also it is in my chewing gum it is great. It is natural (made from Birch Trees) I have noticed no ill effects from it. It is not good for dogs though.

james
james
5 years 3 months ago

Maltitol (and it’s syrup) are the ones to really watch out for, they are nearly sugar in their insulin causing effect, and are mixed in greater quantity because they are slightly less sweet than sugar. Maltitol chocolate messed me up good on my first run at Atkin’s.

http://www.mendosa.com/netcarbs.htm

http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/sugaralcohols.htm

Wulf
Wulf
3 years 8 months ago

I like xylitol in my toothpaste, but didn’t like it as a diet supplement, I feel that it interfered with my normal gut flora, probably killing or inhibiting them, so I stopped eating it. Also, it is expensive, so I figured a little real sugar is better.

Sue
Sue
5 years 7 months ago

As a Type 1 diabetic Primal 2 yrs-
For me-
absolutely no effect on my BGs at all -Stevia -nil not one bit

Jeanie
Jeanie
5 years 7 months ago
Oh good grief, people. I’m tired of the holier-than-thou attitude about artificial sweeteners. If they cause you trouble, then abandon them, but don’t make it sound like those of us who use them are somehow “unnatural”. We use a liquid form of sucralose that we buy on-line (therefore, no dextrose, no carbs). One drop on our morning coffee or tea and that’s it. We have been doing low-carb/Primal/Paleo long enough to have absolutely NO cravings for carbs anymore. No binging, no problems. Thanks, Mark, for the word on these. People try to make these out to be the devil in… Read more »
Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

AMEN!!

Michael
Michael
5 years 7 months ago

Great reply, I was in danger of being severely brainwashed just reading the replies in this topic, it’s great being careful with regards to your health and what you eat, but obsessiveness isn’t a great state of mind! For me I think sucralose is one of the safer sweeteners. i don’t react as badly to it as acesulfame k and aspartame in whey protein products.

Jason
Jason
4 years 4 months ago

Thanks. I would have to agree. I’m a bodybuilder and have cut out sugar and simple carbs completely out of my diet for the past year. I don’t miss it and I never really have a craving. But it’s nice in the evening to down a protein shake with a little sucralose in it as a dessert treat. I never feel a spike or a low after so I know it’s not affecting my blood sugar at all.

lurker
lurker
5 years 7 months ago

um actually I pick sweet and low over any other kind of artificial sweetener (which is often if I’m getting tea or coffee out, because it takes a lot less artificial sweetener than sugar)

Why? it has the least aftertaste, and its just what I’ve always used. I can’t stand splenda in anything – even using it myself in proper amounts (As opposed to the over sweetened diet drinks) it has the worst aftertaste of all of them, despite the fact it isn’t supposed to have one…

Jackie
Jackie
1 year 2 months ago

I’ve always used sweet n low too, and have tried just about every other sweetner and most just don’t do it. Stevia is fine in cold things, but in coffee…BLEH~ Can’t do it, it’s MUCH more bitter than S&L. I figure it this way…Saccharin has been around longer than most of the others, and I just can’t find that much negative press about it, especially when in comparison to Aspartame! Until I find something natural that actually tastes good in coffee, I’ll do my little pink packets~

Raj Ganpath
5 years 7 months ago

Mark,
Considering the cephalic phase insulin response occurs due to a majority of reasons – sight, smell and even thought – is it really a bad thing to have some insulin response from sweeteners? Sure, this is no reason to dump half a dozen Splenda’s in your morning coffee, but a rare pack or two when getting used to the low carb thing might be more beneficial to folks. What do you think?

Make no mistake… I hate those bastards and would rather eat honey if I wanted something sweet.

SweetTooth
SweetTooth
5 years 7 months ago

Makes me wonder if that Now Foods Xylitol Toothpaste is jacking my insulin every morning/night.

Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

not.

Nigel Kinbrum
5 years 7 months ago

“The commercial version of sucralose, Splenda, is cut with dextrose as a bulking agent.”
In the UK, Splenda Granular is cut with maltodextrin. One teaspoonful weighs 0.5g and contains 2kcal. Splenda tabs are cut with ~30mg lactose.

MR
MR
5 years 7 months ago
Thanks Nigel, I wanted to highlight the point as well that most of the things (particularly products) discussed tend to be very American specific. For instance, HFCS is not at all used commonly in other countries like Australia, and neither is diet ‘soda’ marketed to people as something that assists in weight loss (as was implied in the diet soda post). Along the same lines, artificial sweeteners are also not marketed as such (eg no ads on tv, maybe in womens’ magazines). The reason I bring it up is because a lot of the advice on here seems just a… Read more »
Sylvie
Sylvie
5 years 7 months ago
According to Gary Taubes, in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” there was a study conducted by Stylianos Nicolaidis which demonstrated that rats will secrete insulin in response to a sweet taste, regardless if it’s real sugar or a no calorie sugar substitute, implying that the body responds to the perceived taste of sweetness by releasing insulin. This study is compared to Pavlov’s dogs, which would salivate at the sound of a bell, which was associated with feeding time. Our bodies are capable of similar responses. So, Nicolaidis suggested that the release of insulin is “pre-adaptive”, meaning our bodies anticipate… Read more »
Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

Which applies to any food, artificial or not.

James
James
5 years 7 months ago

You are just full of perceptive comments, aren’t you?

Yes, any sweet food can cause this reaction. However, these foods are not being ingested under the assumption that they are doing nothing to our bodies. People have been sold on these chemical sweeteners- liquid or powder- as completely care free sweetness. If they have some effect on insulin, then they are not really what they are claimed to be. This is on top of the known and suspected problems and toxicity of these sweet chemicals.

Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

I meant ANY food, not just sweet ones… “our bodies anticipate the effects of a meal.” And most of the “chemicals” are not toxic. That’s the point. Just labeling a substance as toxic doesn’t make it so.

Chris
Chris
5 years 7 months ago

I’m curious about Stevia.

Elenor
Elenor
5 years 7 months ago
Sylvie wrote: “demonstrated that rats … implying that the body responds to the perceived taste of sweetness by releasing insulin.” Which suggests henceforward that rats should avoid sweeteners, yes? {tee hee hee!} Mark, I decided a month or so ago to stop all use of Splenda (liquid Sweetzfree — no carbs at all) in the hopes of seeing a drop in my pre-diabetic blood sugar. No such effect yet. I did find at first that when I’d sit to a meal, my reaction was: “I CRAVE my sweet drink.” (I used Wyler’s brand of strawberry “koolaid” – but I have… Read more »
Jason
Jason
4 years 4 months ago

You’ll get more of an insulin response from cream then you will splenda.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
5 years 7 months ago
Yeah I’m inclined to agree with Sylvie above. If you eat enough Splenda in one dose, I think it does have an affect. For the first time since I began the challenge three weeks ago, I decided to have a sugar free dessert. It was a kiddie Rita’s ice sugar free cherry. 1.) It tasted crazy sweet to me for sugar free, but this is because I haven’t been eating my usual sugar laden garbage I’m guessing. 2.) Shortly after consuming this I felt so bad almost like low blood sugar. It was if my body reacted to the sugar… Read more »
Lindsey
Lindsey
5 years 7 months ago

I use sweetener in my coffee and its a noname brand. The ingredients just say dextrose. Is that the worst one to use cuz mark said “Dextrose is essentially glucose, which certainly elicits an insulin response,”????

Sylvie
Sylvie
5 years 7 months ago

I reckon that quote from Mark you post there is pretty much saying dextrose is going to have an effect, but it’s up to you whether that’s something you want. Keep in mind that a lot of the artificial sweeteners aren’t tested, so one being labeled as toxic and another not might simply be that the second one doesn’t have data on it.
Maybe go by how you feel when you drink it?

Another Halocene Human
Another Halocene Human
5 years 7 months ago

Dextrose is a glucose polymer. Glucose is what every cell in your body runs on. You should be able to digest it very easily (not as sweet as sucrose, which contains fructose, or fructose) but so can your gut bacteria, heh heh. Taken alone, it will cause a BG spike.

DaiaRavi
5 years 7 months ago
We’ve been using xylitol cause of it’s purported (and now observed) benefits with discouraging tooth decay (have a 3 year old) and my question is – is xylitol considered an artificial sweetener? it’s derived from the woody stems of plants – birch trees, corn stalks – and it’s an extraction process – not “naturally” occurring (but then sugar cane is extracted too i guess…) technically it’s a “sugar alcohol” and has a GI of 7 rather than sugar at about 100 – OK, so – it “feels” pretty clean to use it, no jitters or nausea- however i notice that… Read more »
Another Halocene Human
Another Halocene Human
5 years 7 months ago
Xylitol has, iirc, 2kCal/g, so it has half the caloric density of carbohydrates. It is usually well tolerated but all of the sugar alcohols may have laxative/IBS effects in susceptible individuals. Xylitol is protective of teeth when swished around in the mouth (as in xylitol gums or toothpastes). One reason is that destructive oral bacteria cannot consume xylitol for fuel and thus starve out. I can’t fathom what eating xylitol in food would do for you except to reduce caloric density & possibly cause unpleasant gut problems if you are prone to that sort of thing. If you are concerned… Read more »
mixie
5 years 5 months ago

“Children should never receive raw milk”

Nonsense. Absolute garbage. Children have been happily consuming raw dairy products for as long as homo sapiens sapiens has been consuming dairy products.

Choose a clean, safe, fully pastured source from a producer you trust. Ask for the lab reports or have it tested yourself if you’re concerned. But don’t deprive your children of the benefits of healthy, grass-pastured raw milk due to this kind of alarmist nonsense.

Terry
Terry
3 years 8 months ago

Regarding xylitol as a dental assistive product, see the work from Dr. Ellie Phillips, DDS, at http://www.zellies.com.

Andy B
Andy B
5 years 7 months ago

I think part of the reason why this is talked about also is due to the fact that a lot of artificial sweetener packets include somewheres around a gram of maltodextrin which if i am not mistaken is a starch aka a carb, no? So if you are putting 3 or 4 (i have seen some people put seriously like 10) packets in your morning coffee that will have some kind of impact on your insulin levels!

Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

Yep, which is why Dr. Bernstein, the diabetes expert, recommends liquid sweeteners or tablets.

James
James
5 years 7 months ago

Right, but they are still man made artificial sweeteners.

Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

That are basically inert. Many “natural” substances are certainly not so. What’s your point?

Walter
Walter
3 months 14 days ago

But notice no frucktose. That last word may be misspelled. Perhaps the “r” should be dropped?!

Jake
Jake
5 years 7 months ago
Hi Mark…I love coming to your page every day and reading about the primal lifestyle, which I try to do to the best of my ability because I truly do think it is a healthy way of living. However, I’m in college and the 50 plus food trucks on campus are sometimes too enticing to resist…mmm crepe truck…but thats not why I’m writing this. I merely have a question about Grok. My question is this: You state that pre agricultural revolution, we were a rapidly evolving species (namely our brains were evolving and growing) Now, you say, post AR, because… Read more »
RP
RP
5 years 7 months ago

So what do those going Primal use as a sweetener? Sugar? Or nothing, no sweetener? Sounds like there’s nothing wrong with these artificial ones (except that they taste bad and prevent you from eating real food and drinking water). Just curious.

Ellen
Ellen
5 years 7 months ago

We use Truvia the majority of the time, mostly in coffee or tea and occasionally use Splenda. But that’s maybe 1/2 a packet if nothing else is available, and something needs a bit of sweet to make it taste better.

Gabrielle
Gabrielle
5 years 7 months ago
I gave up artificial sweetners after being on it between the ages of 4-35. The doctors back in the 1970’s told my parents that I was “allergic” to sugar which is actually impossible since sugar has no protein to be allergic to. As it turns out, I had related symptoms of Celiac disease that was only just diagnosed 3 years ago. I ended my love of artificial sweetners when I came down with something that has been termed “splenda flu” on the internet (headaches, joint aches, fever) I gave up splenda and all other artificial sweetners and never looked back.… Read more »
Debrah
5 years 7 months ago

I get migraines from stevia–didn’t know there was a connection with celiac! I have been on a gluten free diet for several years with much improvement

paco
paco
5 years 2 months ago

she was talking about splenda, not stevia. They are not related.

Jessica
Jessica
5 years 6 months ago

I agree about being weary about stevia. It is not good to assume that something that is natural is good for you. Marijuana and tobacco are natural and plant derived, and these are NOT good for you. Many “natural, plant derived” substances are poisonous. I’m sure stevia is fine in moderation, but lets just not assume is has no harmful effects just because it comes from a plant.

Ger
Ger
3 years 1 month ago

Marijuana is a plant thats NOT good for you??? Im sorry for you… Especially since you put it into the same category at Cigarettes which are loaded with chemicals, have no medicinal benefits at all and are reponsibile for millions of deaths! Please do some research about it before just posting. Give concrete evidence its bad… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tShnVEmdS2o

Derrick
5 years 7 months ago

Before going primal I drank 2 cans of soda at lunch and dinner. I switched to primal and I couldn’t stop having that sweet drink with my lunch and dinner so I made fresh squeezed lemonade with Stevia. I now only drink lemonade with dinner, hopefully in a couple more weeks I will be strictly water and away from artificial sweeteners altogether.

Jake
Jake
5 years 7 months ago

If any study showed bad affects from Splenda, it is due to the dextrose they use as a filler.

I only use liquid Splenda that is pure Sucralose and nothing else. Thus for a 12 oz glass of limeade that is very bitter, I only need to use two drops of Splenda.

The brand of liquid Splenda i recommend is Sweetzfree. You can buy it on the internet. A 1 oz bottle lasts me 3 months.

Andy
Andy
5 years 7 months ago

Great articles as usual, thanks Mark.

Mike B
Mike B
5 years 7 months ago

Mark,
Great post!
Obviously, you sort through a ton of research and evidence to put together a post such as this. It seems that many studies contradict one another. I was wondering how you critique all of these papers and studies. Specifically, I would be interested to see the demographics of the study participants as well as the methods employed. There are so many confounding variables that aren’t always apparent in an abstract.

RG73
RG73
5 years 7 months ago
Here’s an interesting thing about Splenda/sucralose. A few years ago there was a paper published in Nature or Science (I don’t have the ref off the top of my head) wherein they had successfully sequenced the first human “microbiome.” That is, they basically scraped the GI lining of some poor grad student (actually I think they’re n was like 3 or something) and they sequenced every bit of DNA in there to find out what kinds of microbes normally inhabit the GI tract and then figure out what they’re doing metabolically. There was one result that was immediately striking to… Read more »
Shiela Marvel
5 years 7 months ago

My dad’s been suffering from diabetes since 8 years ago. He’s already undergoing dialysis twice a week due to his renal problem as a complication. I just hope the medical society get better researches about all these stuff including artificial sweeteners.

Jason L.
Jason L.
5 years 7 months ago
Testing your blood to determine effect has been mentioned several times however unless you are checking for insulin testing is not germaine to this discussion, right? Nobody is suggesting that artificial sweeteners raise your blood sugar, just your insulin. Theoretically if there is an effect a diet soda would lower blood glucose and potentially create hypoglycemia in a normal person? now if you are choking down bun-less cheese burgers and bacon cakes with a diet soda, an insulin increase would not be a good thing. I test my blood regularly (not diabetic just interested to see what food does to… Read more »
bokbadok
bokbadok
5 years 7 months ago

Well – it seems like if a certain substance caused an insulin response, then blood glucose would necessarily go down. Is that right?

Dr. Maapkra
Dr. Maapkra
3 years 9 months ago

absolutely right!

Dr. Maapkra
Dr. Maapkra
3 years 9 months ago

It IS possible to test insulin levels, but not in an at-home monitoring system that I am aware of. Now THAT would be cool. Let’s make it and get rich! 🙂

Sasha
Sasha
5 years 7 months ago

Mark,

I highly recommend for you to check out the book The Hormone Diet by Natasha Turner. The book covers the affects of artificial sweeteners on our hormones – especially on the sensitivity of insulin. Those guys are terrible for you, really. If you’re going to use any art. sweets. stick to stevia. But yeah, check out the book, it changed my mind – and now I’m studying hormones at Harvard 🙂

S.

Brash
5 years 7 months ago

I was surprised that you didn’t mention stevia , but nice post , thanx mark but i don’t know about this “Does sucralose (aka Sucralose) affect insulin?”

gt
gt
5 years 7 months ago

Since going Primal in February of 2010 I’ve lost 104 lbs. I’ve eliminated grains and sweets except for rare occasions but the one thing I havent been able to kick is Coke Zero. From personal testimony it must not be having much of an effect on insulin because of the weight loss. I’m sure though I should kick it for some other reason.

Milliann Johnson
Milliann Johnson
5 years 7 months ago

Mark any comments on whey low? In their info they state it causes no insulin spikes.

rob
rob
5 years 7 months ago

Since I gave up artificial sweeteners my goiter has gotten much better.

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James
James
5 years 7 months ago

I gave up artificial sweeteners almost 6 years ago in response to side effects-like headaches, dizziness, and even panic attacks- that they were causing me. Granted I was having a fairly large dose of them, along the lines of 4-5 20 oz diet sodas a day. All symptoms stopped within a week of cutting all artificial sweeteners.

I am also suspicious of stevia, I wish there was more info on what that does to a body, or if the body anticipates something sweet and reacts as it does with articial ones.

Emma
Emma
5 years 7 months ago

I use xylitol in the only sweetened food I have which is my daily coffee. 2 cups per day with a spoonful of xylitol in each. I don’t do primal baked goodies and find fruit (which I eat rarely) to be enough to settle any desire for sweet food.
It doesn’t induce cravings and I have it in such small amounts that I really don’t worry about it.

Matthew Myers
5 years 7 months ago

Hey Mark, I’m just wondering about the Purdue University study that came out a couple of years ago linking artificial sweeteners to weight gain. Where would that fit into all of this? Are you thinking that it’s not insulin secretion, and rather another mechanism that could be behind this weight gain, such as psychological dependence/lessened insulin response to other sugars/??? Just curious as to your thoughts. 🙂

Katy
Katy
5 years 7 months ago

As Dr. Eades states time and again, correlation is not causation, and there was no hard evidence presented, only weasel words such as “suggests,” “suspect,” “might,” etc. And the study was done on rats. Another one using a few fat people relied on self-reporting. More than likely, they were consuming loads of refined carbs along with the diet soda.

fritzy
fritzy
5 years 7 months ago
Seems to be a lot of Primal folks out there who still dable in artificial sweeteners. I can understand the appeal as well as the intense cravings, however I would like to offer encouragement, as others have, to just try to cut out all of the sweet stuff. Give it a few weeks and see what happens. The only sweetened food I consume, now that I am Primal, is 85% cocoa or higher dark chocolate. Chocolate has always been my weakness. Just out of curiosity, I helped myself to a Hershey’s milk chocolate kiss at work. I almost had to… Read more »
Kitty
Kitty
5 years 7 months ago

@fritzy. Agreed. I no longer like the taste of those sweet things I used to like. The only sweetener I have is stevia, and I only have that in my morning coffee and in my whey protein shakes (and even then in only very small quantities). I tried a piece of milk chocolate a few months back and had the same sensation, not only because of the sweetness but also because of the milk.

Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago

I had a feeling it was going to turn out this way and I’m ashamed I didn’t do my own homework on the subject.

I had been saying for a while that if they *have* found an association between artificial sweeteners and insulin spikes, either it was going to be that cephalic response thing, or it was going to be from the bulking agent, which is usually either dextrose or maltodextrin or both–and both are sugars. Nice to know someone bothered conducting studies that controlled for the bulking agents.

Dana
Dana
5 years 7 months ago
By the way, I don’t have trouble with artificial sweeteners in the sense of them making me eat badly. (I don’t think aspartame agrees with me, and I hate the taste of saccharin, though.) But I usually favor savory snacks over sweet, and only want a sweet treat every now and again. I do want my coffee sweetened, but I have maybe two cups a day. (Kicking caffeine is on the agenda, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Kind of nervous at the prospect, actually, as I suffer from various types of headaches.) For the record, I am… Read more »
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