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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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April 09 2008

On the Question of Sweeteners

By Worker Bee
80 Comments

An inevitable question surfaced this past week regarding the use of artificial sweeteners. When you adopt a low carb, no or next-to-no sugar diet, it’s almost assured that you’ll come up against the question at some point. There are as many perspectives on this issue as there are foods containing these products. And, these days, we even have several choices if we choose to go the alternative sweetener route.

It’s a question, we think, each person has to answer for him/herself. It’s admittedly tough to wade through the hearsay, personal accounts, discredited studies, conflicts of interest, and industry talk. One less complicated criterion we suggest applying to the issue is this: as you look at an artificially sweetened food/drink, does the item offer any real benefit (physical or otherwise) that you couldn’t get from an unsweetened source? Sometimes the answer will be yes, sometimes no. For example, an artificially sweetened soda might seem a better choice than a regular soda. But the best choice, of course, is to nix the soda order completely. If a recipe calls for sugar, you could substitute, say, Splenda, but you might also consider leaving out the sugar/sweetener ingredient entirely, substituting with fruit puree (still fructose but with nutrients) or finding a different recipe. (Quick aside: you can find some interesting substitutes and familiar but low carb adjusted recipes on paleo diet sites.)

Let’s face it. We live in a world that expects birthday cakes, holiday treats, and traditional foods with deep emotional and cultural associations. Some of us are more successful than others at wholly realigning our lifestyles and convincing or “training” (as in children) those around us to enjoy a life (and birthday/holiday) without sugar and carbs. As it is, the rest of us occasionally hit up against the dreaded wall of compromise. What now? Sure, you can bring a no-crust quiche for the work crowd (just deal, people), but if mom and dad always celebrate each anniversary with cherry pie and you’re throwing their 40th bash, what’s a cook to do?

And, yes, there’s always the answer: well, I’ll make it for them but just won’t eat any. But sometimes that solution just doesn’t cut it. Or, the fact is, we want to make a choice that at least seems like a “better” option for the people we cook for.

For a lot of folks, the sweetener solution is sugar/honey or nothing. We understand the perspective of the all-natural crowd. Yet, we also see the point of those who believe that they’d rather incorporate a bit of the artificial realm to stay on track, so to speak. As Mark has mentioned in the past, “cheating” on a low carb lifestyle is not only a temporary compromise, it sets your body’s “acclimatization back a week.” He reminds us that the changes in biochemical rhythms and energy shift, so to speak, take “about three weeks of steady adherence.” So, when the occasion calls for sweet, here’s a brief primer on a few of the most popular choices.

Saccharine (Sweet ‘n Low):

Saccharine, in terms of the artificial set, was truly an original and has been around since the beginning of the 20th Century. The sweetener is an organic molecule made from petroleum. It was hailed as an important development for those with diabetes and was used without much concern until the 1970s when animal studies indicated that it caused cancer of the bladder, skin, uterus and ovaries, among other organs. The USDA moved to ban saccharine, but a compromise was reached that resulted in a warning label that might look familiar: “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The warning was removed in 2000. Though the studies were criticized and many claims downshifted in later years, the stigma stuck in many people’s minds. Today the American Medical Association cautions that children and pregnant women should limit their use of the artificial sweetener since not enough information is available to assess risk. Saccharine is known to cross the placenta.

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal):

Famous for their memorable gumball campaign, aspartame added another choice to the sweetener line after some were scared off by the questions surrounding saccharine. The sweetener combines two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid with methanol. Like saccharine, the sweetener has a distinct taste, which some people like and others don’t. The FDA has done some 26 safety evaluations of the sweetener, and their reports show a clean record. Yet, not everyone agrees with this assessment. Aspartame, like MSG, is thought to be an “excitotoxin,” a compound that overstimulates nerve cells in the brain.

One proven concern is the inability of some people to metabolize phenylalanine, a component in aspartame. The problem is seen with people who have the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) as well as people with liver disease or women who are pregnant and have a high level of phenylalanine in their blood. High phenylalanine levels can result in brain damage, which is why products with aspartame have an FDA-mandated warning regarding their phenylalanine content.

Sucralose (Splenda, etc.):

Approved by the FDA in 1998, sucralose indeed starts out as sugar but is then chemically adjusted by swapping three hydrogen-oxygen groups with three chlorine molecules. The process makes it into a non-caloric sweetener because we’re unable to metabolize this new form. By most reports, sucralose doesn’t have that artificial aftertaste the earlier substitutes had, although baking results vary considerably despite the sugar cookie and cupcake strewn ads. And don’t let the small box fool you: sucralose has 600 times the sweetening kick that sugar does.

Most researchers, practitioners and other experts suggest that they haven’t seen the same kinds of problems with sucralose that they have with previous artificial sweeteners. It’s true that sucralose is relatively new on the scene, and many are watching for signs of problems past. Nonetheless, in the interest of equal time, we’ll mention a brief caution that is based on a collection of personal accounts rather than scientific evidence. It appears that a small number of people do have experiences resembling allergic reactions to the sweetener. Although we couldn’t find reliable human studies that measured or confirmed these symptoms’ relation to sucralose, there are probably enough stories out there to suggest that people play it safe and “test” their reaction to the sweetener with small doses initially. Also, as we said earlier, if the food or drink isn’t something that offers a real benefit to your body, you’re probably better off finding an alternative.

Stevia:

Stevia is an herb-based non-caloric sweetener that is available in the U.S. as a dietary supplement. Native to Paraguay, you can buy stevia in whole-leaf form or as a powder extract that you dissolve in water. The pull of this “alternative” sweetener is that it’s not part of the artificial crowd. It’s used in many corners of the globe and is considered safe for diabetics. Like sucralose, it packs a powerful punch. A few drops of the liquid have about the same sweetening power as an entire cup of sugar. Also like sucralose, it can be used for baking. The biggest drawback of stevia: many complain that it has a very defined and unappealing underlying flavor. Some say it’s an acquired taste. Others say it’s a taste not worth acquiring.

Ah, to each, his or her own! Meanwhile, anything you can do to wean yourself off that generic craving for sweetness is probably a good thing.

Care to share your thoughts and tips? Pull up a chair and type away, we say.

TheeErin, mgus, canonsnapper, original Mikz Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

8 “Health Foods” That Contain HFCS

A Cranky Crab Confesses: Yes, I Use Splenda!

FitSugar: Artificial Sweeteners Explained

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

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80 thoughts on “On the Question of Sweeteners”

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    1. I’m a bit surprised that more of you primal eaters don’t mention xylitol when discussing sugar substitutes and in recopies. I have an extremely sensitive taste for artificial sweeteners and simply don’t touch them. I tried stevia and found it has a horrible after taste just like aspartame and sucralose. I love xylitol; it’s the only non-sugar sweetener I can tolerate. There is a slight after taste if you I use a lot but in small quantities, I can’t one at all. The biggest issue with xylitol is that the crystals tend to be large and don’t dissolve as readily as other sweeteners. You can bake with it as well. It works great in baked dishes but you do have to add a little extra moisture tot eh recipe. Since the GI is so low, it’s a great option for those of us who simply can’t drink their morning coffee and iced tea without a little bit of sweetness. If you despise the popular sugar substitutes, it’s defiantly worth a try

      1. I totally agree. I love xylitol. It has no distinct after taste and it doesn’t spike my blood sugar (I measured).

        Another favorite is erythritol.If only the stuff wasn’t so expensive….(probably for the best, now I HAVE to use them sparingly :-))

      2. Yeah I agree, I love xylitol. If eaten on it’s own, interestingly enough, it gives a cooling sensation on you tongue. I use it in everything that calls for sugar. It’s sweetness level is pretty much exactly up to par with sugar.
        How practical!

    2. Just came upon this site. I tried xylitol and did not like the taste. I have had a war with artificial sweeteners since 1988 when I changed my ugly eating habits for entirely healthful ones. I am nearly vegetarian except for one day of chicken and an oily fish. So I care about my eating habits and live them. I do NOT and have not ever cheated. Yep that’s right NEVER! It’s hard wired now.

      The problem I have is that I absolutely refuse to eat whole grains that taste like wood and sugar is a NO GO for me. So an artificial sweetener for me is a MUST but heck I feel very skeptical when I eat many many many things with Splenda from my breakfast trough to dinner. Am I doing myself in in my effort to live disease free?

      I tried the most recent on the market Truvia and I must say I like it but not enough testing has been done and I’m afraid. I put a little on fruit on my cereal which contains Splenda.

      So back to Splenda, I eat everything with it coffee, cereal sweetener, and I bake with it too. What is someone to do who simply cannot eat foot that needs sweetness? My numbers obviously are great with no glucose meds at all and I keep my weight in check from 115 to 120 and I’m 5 feet (big factor of glucose number is weight. I am trying to lose more..very hard. and Splenda like all sweeteners makes one crave sweets. My mantra re: food: Just say NO and I do.

  1. I was thinking about the whole sugar thing recently. It is not an artificial sweeteners question, but more a question about sugars in general. I’m a triathlete, and I use whey protein shakes with fruit and juice/milk as recovery daily. Is it better to use say an Almond milk (or even Soy) that contains “evaporated cane juice” (long name for sugar) or a juice like fresh pressed apple juice, which has a higher sugar content, but is natural fruit sugar as opposed to a more refined sugar?

    1. I was just readins about the FDA reclassifying the the label ‘evaporated cane juice’ due to the fact that it is not extracted as it is from a vegtable or a fruit. Well, they were taking reccomendations on it anyway.

    2. I have used stevia for 23 years. I know this; Not all stevias are the same. There are really pure ones out there, both liquid and powders. Then there are those that are cut with various fillers. I have talked to manufacturers and they have up to 75% maltodextrin in the powder form and glycerine in the liquid form. The KAL brand is all I use in the powder form. It is 100% pure. It is really sweet and a dusting is all I need for most sweetening. Stevia helps to regulate blood sugar. It helps normalize high or low blood sugar with no side affects.You might want to try the KAL it is found in health food stores. I don’t represent any company. I’m just passionate about pure stevia.

  2. I’m a real sugar in moderation kind of girl. I used to consume way too much, and now we really limit refined sugars.

    I drink about one Pepsi a week, unless we are traveling, when I usually have more. When we bake, we try to look for alternatives or cut the sugar in half. We eat plain yogurt, don’t add sweeteners to fruit (where did that thing come from – putting sugar on strawberries?), drink water at home.

    The only artificial sweeteners I consume regularly are in chewing gum. If I chew gum I eat less, generally, but I don’t want to have sugar sitting on my teeth that much, so I use artifically sweetened gum, a few pieces a day.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! My dentist has forbidden me chewing gum, so sugar-free mints take its place, and I prefer coke (diet, I find the real thing too sweet) to Pepsi, but other than that – same here! I also have 2-3 pieces of fruit each day, refusing to think about the sugar content – God, they can’t be worse than the packets of biscuits I used to have, can they now?

  3. Xylitol?- I’ve tried it and i found that it had the strongest “aftertaste” ever. Personally, i don’t like it, i do use Stevia in my morning coffee, and honey in my green tea. As for sugar, saccharine, aspartame,sucralose, i never use it. A friend of mine quit using splenda because it gave her a headache. When she quit splenda headaches left.

  4. If your goal is fat loss, and you are also lifting weights, then “cheating” on your diet can be a good thing.

    I followed a carb-cycling approach eating low-carb for three days, followed by one high carb day. This carb load stimulates leptin, T4 and other fat burning hormones.

    Simply staying on low carbs all the time is unsustainable for most people, and not wise from a training point of view. Sure, you can lose fat and build muscle without carbohydrates but you can do the same with them, so why cut them out entirely? Besides, muscles that are glycogen depleted look flat and tired.

    A full, robust and muscular physique is achieved when glycogen stores are full, and glycogen stores are full when you are eating plenty of carbohydrates.

    Say NO to carbophobia!

  5. Sure, you can lose fat and build muscle without carbohydrates but you can do the same with them, so why cut them out entirely?

    So who said anything about cutting them out entirely? This is about sugar and artificial sweetners. And if you don’t thing you can have a full, robust, and muscular physique on a low-carb diet, then you obviously haven’t seen pictures of Mark or Art Devany. I would be more than happy with matching either of them.

  6. Barry,
    Check out Art Devany’s website.
    There is a nice picture of his muscled arm, doesn’t look to much like it is glycogen depleted or flat and tired. Esepcially for age 70.
    When you say “high carb day” what do you eat?

    Marc

  7. @ Ear Cannonbeat-Well Said!
    Sugar is also “horror”ble for your immune system!

  8. I hate that I use the splenda sometimes

    and the little blue packet.

    how do I know I hate it? when I do it (at restaurants only) I try and hide the wrappers.

    For shame, MizFit, for SHAME! 🙂

  9. I was never a “sweet” eater, rather my weakness WAS salt and salty snacks as far as I remember. Now that I eat Paleo and ingest enormous amounts of greens, I found that I really never desire sweets!! Taste buds can change….

    I also find on the rare occasion that I have it–even stevia spikes my blood sugar and sends me looking for more sweets. And once I was at a friends and ate some salmon and immediately had a massive headache. Well, I found out she “spiked” her salmon with splenda!!! Who would have thought that?

  10. I avoid sweeteners. The sweetest food I eat is fruit, which tastes very sweet to me, and so I eat it in moderation and selectively. (Instead of a bowl of grapes, I’ll have a small handful, for instance.) I think that if you use these artificial sweeteners (not to mention sugar, honey, etc.) you end up dulling your taste for sweetness, and then you need and desire more of the stuff to be satisfied. That makes it harder to eat in a healthy, primal fitness way.

  11. This is definetly my achilles heel–I have a hell of a sweet tooth. Between my coffee and my sugar-free popsicles, I consume a fair amount of artificial sweetner. I managed to drop 30 pounds in three months so I’m a little doubtful of some of the claims about it promoting an insulin response; however, I am a little concerned about the long term effects of the chemical cocktail (my daily dose of red #5).

    Dave

  12. How timely! I recently blogged a bit about this very topic. I have a horrible sweet tooth, which I am trying to conquer, and right now I use Splenda as a substitute for sugar. I liken my need for sugar to heroin addiction, and for me, Splenda is like methadone. Sure, it isn’t great for me, but I know sugar is awful for me — I’m not someone who can have just a little sugar occasionally; it always eventually leads to a full-on sugar binge.

    I found that once before, when I was low-carbing, after I had been off of sugar for a while, using Splenda as a substitute, my sweet cravings actually lessened. I’m hoping that will happen this time around too, and that eventually I’ll wean myself off of the Splenda. But first I have to get off the sugar, and if Splenda helps me do that, then I’m all for it.

    I think I use much less Splenda relative to how much sugar I use when I use sugar. And I have had no bad reactions to Splenda, whereas sugar always does a number on me — cravings, sugar “crash”, obviously bad for my pancreas and weight, putting me at risk for diabetes (my mom is diabetic), bloating, tooth decay, etc.

    Are artificial sweeteners better than sugar? For me, yes. Would it be better not to use either one? Absolutely, but that just isn’t realistic for me right now. Maybe someday. Until then, moderation is my goal, something much easier for me to achieve with Splenda than with sugar.

  13. “Also, as we said earlier, if the food or drink isn’t something that offers a real benefit to your body, you’re probably better off finding an alternative.”

    Just wanted to comment on this as well. It’s true that water is the best thing to drink, but some people won’t consume as much water when it’s just plain water as opposed to say, kool-aid (yikes! I know– horror!) sweetened with Splenda. So the water people get when they drink artificially sweetened drinks can offer a real benefit — adequate hydration.

  14. If a recipe is going to end up containing a teaspoon of added sugar or less per serving (or if I think it will come out OK if I cut it back that far), I’ll just use real sugar (or maple syrup or honey). That’s only 4 g of carbs, and if it’s a recipe like flourless coconut butter cookies that’s loaded with other good things, I think it’s worth it (provided you don’t end up eating 10 cookies and getting the same 10 teaspoons of sugar that are in a soda). And I am really trying to consume no artificial sweeteners at all right now. And after all, a lot of us LC/primal/paleo types eat dark chocolate sweetened with real sugar, right? I absolutely agree that too much sugar is bad news, but a single teaspoon a few times a week is not likely to harm anyone.

    And, a thought for Amy – maybe people don’t drink very much water because they aren’t thirsty! Our bodies have this intricately designed system for regulating hydration – it’s called thirst. But for people who really refuse to drink plain water, maybe they just need a Brita filter. Or they could float lemon, lime, orange, or my favorite, cucumber slices and a little mint in their water … in hot weather, I love to fill a pitcher with water and a few fruit slices and leave it to steep in the fridge – flavor without sweetening.

    I am very lucky that I haven’t enjoyed sweetened coffee since I was a teenager (half a lifetime ago). When I went LC, it was one less adaptation I had to make.

  15. “And, a thought for Amy – maybe people don’t drink very much water because they aren’t thirsty! Our bodies have this intricately designed system for regulating hydration – it’s called thirst.”

    My bad. I was under the impression that a person is already dehydrated before thirst kicks in– meaning thirst is a symptom of dehydration, rather than a preventative body mechanism, and that it was good to stay hydrated to a point where thirst doesn’t kick in — that whole drink 6-8 glasses of water a day thing. Good to know I don’t have to do that after all.

    One last thing and then I’ll shut up. Not all of us grew up drinking water. Some of us grew up drinking soda pop and juice and Tang (’cause, you know, the astronauts drank it and everything), and are used to that sweet flavor in the water, and drinking plain water is just unappetizing for us (not me, I happen to like water, but I know people who just don’t like water, filtered or tap, lemon wedge or mint). I was just saying that the water itself in a crap drink can be of some benefit. Pleasure is also a benefit, though it is a benefit that often gets us into trouble.

    I just think maybe things aren’t always so black and white, and that’s the point I was trying to make. But I appreciate your response, Migraineur, and I get what you’re saying. As for the sugar, as I said, I can’t seem to have just that one teaspoon, but I can with the Splenda. Glad that you can.

  16. What about “less-processed” sweeteneres like Sucanat and Rapidura, and “natural” ones like honey and agave nectar or even maple syrup? Or do you conclude, like Andrew Weil, that all sweeteners are pretty much the same and to be avoided as much as possible? I still make baked goods for my kids with an occasional bit of Sucanat, and enjoy a touch of honey on my oatmeal. Am I immuno suppressing with this bit of easily avoided sweetening?

  17. hello sir, one doubt regarding why most of the people drink water after had a sweet,,,,,, reply in detail,, i think tat its mainly depend on the internal structure of our tongue,,,, ok im’ waiting for ur reply,,,,

  18. I just read all the blogs about sweeteners on this web site. I can say that I have had 23 years of experience using stevia. I’ve used powdered and liquid. I like KAL powdered pure stevia the best. It is expensive but as I said it is pure. If you buy cheap stevia the liquid usually has glycerine that constitutes up to 75% of the total volume. (I called a manufacturer and they admitted it) If you buy cheap powdered Stevia you will most likely find up to 75% is maltodextrin. Read the label of OTHER INGREDIENTS.
    The MOST benefit I ever found from Stevia is the pure black concentrated form. It has a somewhat salty licorice type taste. I found that it stabilized my blood sugar. It didn’t matter if it was high or low. It truly stabilized it. I was severely hypoglycemic when not pregnant and had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant. When I had hypoglycemia and could feel that I was “going into a Dive” I would squirt about 1/4 tsp into a glass of water and drink it. Almost immediately I would level out. When I was pregnant my doctor insisted I take a glucose tolerance test and I only agreed on the condition that he would let me drink my stevia after his initial test, then take another test about 5 minutes later. The results showed a significant drop in blood sugar. Over time my pancreas regenerated itself. I believe Stevia was the contributing factor. For over 18 years I have not had hypoglycemia or diabetes. I have been tested but never shown signs of either. Even though it was a taste that took getting used to it was SO worth it for my well being.

  19. I was drinking a lot of Crystial Light to Go (with sucarlose) and noticed all kinds of reactions – shoulders would go numb, slight headache and achy sinus area in the morning.

    Now I am using liquid Stevia and think that it is causing a rash.

    I may just go back to plain ole sugar, after all!

    1. I read that chromium stops sweet cravings. I tried it and it worked. I have no desire for sweets at all. I will have a piece of fruit, but I don,t even desire anything else. I don,t crave the fruit. I try to eat mostly berries or coconut water as a sport drink.

      If a host offers a dessert I will have a bit to br polite. It does taste good, but it doesn’t trigger a desire fir more.

  20. Honey, it’s the best thing ever. Natural and has been in existence the longest. Better still when made closest to where one lives. It’s purest when bought at a farmer’s market. All the “substitutes” are not recommended, it gives the body a false signal of having ingested true calories, the body comes into attention only to wait and wait, then it crashes. Eventually, out of the need for calories, the person resorts to binging or reaches for a “nonfat” or “low carbohydrate” where sugar is hidden in large amounts. Better rules: go back to the way your grandparents ate. Consider water as a nutrient. Your vital organs need to get cooled off, and when there isn’t enough, you will feel sluggish because the heart will make sure the brain and other vital organs get water one way or another. Besides all this, why would you want to tax the kidneys even further? They need water to flush out all the toxins that you’ve ingested from energy drinks and comercially prepared “foods”. Remember, food is medicine and an apple a day does keep the doctor away!

  21. I have poisoned myself with sucralose without realizing it, and now, one week after last ingesting it, am finally getting better. I suffered scalp rash, horrible joint pain and weakness ( only today am I beginning to walk without a cane after it crippled my left side for the last couple weeks).
    My abdomen bloated, I didn’t lose weight the way I normally do on a low carb diet ( I normally don’t include an artificial sweetener), and I was generally foggy and depressed.

    Until I googled the subject,looking for answers to what was really wrong with me ( my doctor didn’t know anything about sucralose poisoning so she was no help),I never made the connection to artificial sweeteners. NEVER again will I allow any artificial sweetener into my body. I am now using a little bit of Stevia in my coffee, and drinking lots of water.

    I’m writing in the hopes of preventing anyone from going through what I just have.

    1. Gee golly that is effing terrible! I am very glad to hear you’re getting better, but it’s awful that that happened to you.

      I have never been able to tolerate artificial sweeteners, ever since I realized that Diet Coke(with aspartame) not only tasted like butt, it gave me a headache. It got worse and I would get full on migraines from ingesting a little bit of Splenda (which is in everything nowadays, and ruined several of my favorite junky soft drinks even before I committed to going primal). The most recent development is that, because I work in a coffee shop where we carry sugarfree syrups and when I get some on my hand it makes me break out like a little poison oak rash.

      I can’t say that there is no place for them in the world, but that place is not inside me; the chemical sweeteners creep me out big time. Oddly, malitol, sorbitol, and xylitol have never made me react this way, and I’m totally down with Stevia though the taste is a little weird.

  22. The next best thing may be in Australia! Just launched on to the market there is LoGiCane a low-GI sugar made of 100% natural cane sugar. When is it coming here?

  23. For years I experienced heart palpitations and all those years I was using Aspartame (Equal). I had physical check-ups and cardiograms and nothing showed any sign of heart problems. Then one day I had heart palpitations so bad it seemed to go right through my throat to my head causing dizziness and scaring me. After much analyzing of the day leading up to that, I decided to stop using Equal. I have not had heart palpitations since, therefore I personally know that Aspartame is bad stuff. I do use Splenda and have for some years but am starting to have reservations about using it even though I haven’t experienced any problems (that I’m aware of).

    1. I had problems with Aspertame too. I didn’t pinpoint it until my diet was about 90% primal. I was having 1 or 2 22 ounce diet sodas throughout the day and the rest of my meals were all primal fruits, veggies, nuts, meats. It took a long time for me to notice the cause —> effect relationship, but once I saw it EVERY single time I consumed aspertame, my circulation would go to crap and my hands would get ICE cold. And I’m not an iron-deficient woman, I’m a STEAK eating man. It was the aspertame. I eliminated the diet soda and it stopped completely. …until I noticed the same thing with sugar-free gum! Just the small amount of aspertame in a couple pieces of gum was having the same effect. Bad, bad stuff!

      By the way it’s total nonsense that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain, I was dropping 1-2 pounds a week with all that diet soda I was drinking. But bottom line, even if it doesn’t affect your weight loss, it doesn’t occur in nature! So it can’t be good for you. They’re all chemicals. Except Stevia… I’m not sure why that’s included on this list.

      1. i can see why you or many people have problems after consuming aspartame. the “FDA” has deemed aspartame safe. what good has the FDA done us with our diets. they also say to eat grain and that fluoride in our drinking water is safe. i’d be wary of anything thing the FDA deems as safe especially when it come to big agg companies and their products. i believe the largest producer of aspartame and hfcs is monsanto and they are not on the peoples side. anyway i don’t consume any artificial sweetners, raw honey is the only thing i use. check out this video, it’ll scare you away from aspartame forever, as it should.
        http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6551291488524526735#

  24. Oh yeahh… About 5 years from now, there will be a 800 Number plastered up on our TV Screens, informing us to call for a Class Action Suit if we are suffering from an illness from Truvia or if a loved one death might be connected.
    When are we going to stop popping everything we see into our mouths like children? What’s this supposed to be anyway– a one up on Stevia? No wonder there is so much sickness and disease!!!

  25. Anyone know much about erythritol? I’ve seen it in some of the Primal recipes and was curious about what this was. Are there any health problems associated with it or is this a healthy form sugar replacement. Finally, where do you purchase it?

  26. Hi,

    I would like to know what do you think about fructose (sugar from fruits, not high fructose corn syrup). It’s recommended by a french doctor, Michael Montignac, because has a very low glicemic index.

    Regards,
    Susana

  27. If sugar substitutes didn’t exist, I would probably be obese. I just CAN’T go a day without eating sweets. Unfortunately, I use Splenda for at least half of my meals daily. I use it on my whey protein pancakes, cakes, etc. I hope I won’t be surprised with an illness when I’m 60 or younger! Like it says in the article, there is nothing scientifically proven, and that’s my hope.

    1. Dr Group disagrees with Mercola on this issue. I have used Dr Group’s products and like him a lot. His OxyPowder saved me from an Appendectomy as well as I did colon hydrotherapy. The gallbladder cleanse was noticeably beneficial as well.

  28. i don’t buy the story that honey sourced from a farmer’s market is automatically high quality, or even local.

  29. maybe aphex twin isn’t helping, but i have teeth that crave sweet and salty. Oh, my brain also craves my favorite vegetables, tobacco and corn. Also, I’m still in HS, so I can’t really control what I eat because I pay for none of it.
    I read SuseM: “I suffered scalp rash, horrible joint pain and weakness ( only today am I beginning to walk without a cane after it crippled my left side for the last couple weeks)”
    I agree. I have changed my habits recently by eating less and exercising more (and I was already quite active to begin with), but I still feel that nothing I find in a chain-store is even remotely appetizing anymore. oh, and i’m dead broke.

  30. Does anyone know how much fructose is in Coconut sugar? with a low glycemic index, i would assume there would be a lot but this website seems to indicate otherwise:
    http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/11/in-my-kitchen-coconut-sugar.html

    I have fructose malabsorbtion and get quite sick if I eat foods with a higher concentration of fructose to glucose (glucose helps to absorb fructose). I have some Coconut sugar on hand and want to use it to make a ‘cheat’ desert (haven’t cheated since I started eating primally 5 wks ago!), but I don’t want to get sick from it.

    By the way, for all those who convert to primal and are finding they have probs with an upset stomach, bloating, gas, ibs-type symptoms, it would be worth looking into fructose malabsorbtion. It doesn’t mean you need to give up all fruits, just consume those with more glucose than fructose. A few veggies also have fructose/fructins too so avoiding these may cause much relief.

    Just wanted to get the word out there as I’d never heard of it when I was diagnosed (and I’m a nurse). I thought I was eating healthy by incorporating lots of fruit and veg in my diet, but I was only feeling sicker. Studies have shown that a high portion of those with IBS are actually undiagnosed fructose malabsorbers. Hope this helps a few people out there!

  31. This post appears to tip-toe around the shocking truth about artificial sweeteners — perhaps to avoid offending anyone fighting a sugar addiction.

    1. Please shock us with some facts on particular artificial sweeteners.

      Then anyone with addictive or other problems with sugars can make a personal judgment on balancing these risks with respect to their own situation.

  32. What sweeteners should I avoid with having been diagnosed with Hep. C.?

  33. There is not a single artificial sweetener that does not give me an intense prolonged headache. It was not always this way but I have since developed a chemical sensitivity that makes these substances toxic to me. Made the connection when chewing sugarless gum.

  34. I am 99% certain that sucralose (the sweetener in my ex-favorite-protein-powder)is what was triggering my severe migraines – lasting 3 days with visuals (sparkling geometric rainbows), vision loss, nausea – up to twice a month. I also had mild migraine-like headaches much of the time, even when not suffering an acute migraine attack. I threw out the protein powder a few months ago and I haven’t had a problem.

  35. I once watched a pregnant lady dump, not kidding, 15+ Sweet’n’Low packets into her coffee…I shutter to think what that would do to her unborn. I wondered how often she drank coffee like that.

  36. Hi
    This is all very interesting and troublesome. I’ve recently taken on a primal lifestyle and i have a severe sugar tooth. I have been replacing sugar in my coffe with an artificial sweetner. Is this going to effect my success or weight lose? Or is this one of the situations where its a compromise. The lesser of two evils if you will.

  37. Aspartame is poison clear and simple. Banned in Romania and would be banned everywhere else if not for political pressure and the underlying agenda of the FDA (Fraud and Death Association). Dr. Coldwell introduced http://www.justlikesugarinc.com/ in his book ‘The Only Answer to Cancer’. It is worth looking at as an alternative to sugar which feeds candida and cancer cells and synthetics like Aspartame, cousin of MSG, which is a brain tumor causing excito-toxin.

  38. Your discussion of aspartame is misleading, because you didn’t mention that the FDA banned it for many years, until Donald Rumsfeld, one of the directors of the company that made it, when he was on the Reagan transition team got a new FDA commissioner to reverse the ban. Blatant corruption and abuse of the public trust. It’s unsafe, period.

    1. Certain brands of stevia do have a bad aftertaste. However, I’ve been using NuNatural’s brand and it is absolutely awesome! No strange flavors or aftertastes, sweetens with just a pinch, it’s just wonderful 🙂 I use the super concentrated powder, not the maltodextrin diluted stuff.

  39. Statistically, we all live to be about 75 years old and then die. I prefer to enjoy the variety of life during those 75 years. You only live once. I’ll be no Ewel Gibbons nor a cave man.

    1. It’s a question of how you live those 75 years: at odds with your biological systems, or aligned with them.

      You want to do whatever you feel like in the moment, and spend decades with chronic illness, you are free to do that. Others will sadly also have to pay the price. But society gives you the freedom to suck down toxins and make yourself ill.

      Quality of life isn’t just about the ability to snort sucralose till your eyes spin.

  40. If I combine stevia with xylitol it seems to get rid of the bitterness and aftertaste that each of them seems to have on their own.

    I use erythritol occassionally because Kat James says its fine.

    Now I just have to shoot for 3 straight weeks of no sugar, no grains in order to find my “rhythm”! ugh.

  41. The artificial sweetners act on me like a 6 pack of beer. A chain restaurant switched their normal over sweetened coke for diet coke. I got lost walking 1/2 block back to my office and couldn’t drive for a couple of hours. I have tried all of them and all do the same thing. Stevia is alright, although it still hase sugar in it (according to the package). I wish that the manufacturers would just cut the amout of sugar by 75%. That would solve most of the problems.

  42. Has anyone ever heard of coconut nectar? The wife and I have been on the PB for about a mont and love it. If nothing else no more joint pains for me. Any way the nectar….. made from raw coconut tree sap. They claim to have much lower glycemic level than Agave(which we never use any more due to the high fructose level and questionable processing methods). total carbs per table spoon 13G. It is made by Coconut Secret.

  43. Xylitol not only has a low glycemic index, it helps stop cavities and stops bacteria build up in your mouth which is the real cause of tooth decay. Dr. Ellie Phyllips, http://www.drellie.com promotes xylitol for brushing teeth and preventing dental problems. She has a book, “Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye”.

    I personally believe that we need to beware of any sweetener that is processed, including stevia and truvia. However, most of our processed foods have sugar in them so it won’t be easy to wean ourselves of that sweet tooth. The purer the sweetener, the better. Sugar from fruit is not the same as the other sugars but like anything else…always moderation is the best policy.

  44. Xylitol causes diarrhea. Aspartame, Splenda, Saccharine all are dangerous.

    I use sucanat or rapidura, very similar to LoGiCane. It is less sweet and is workable in all drinks and baking so it was a bridge for me when going from processed sugar to no sugar.

    Weston A Price Foundation and it’s health bible: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon talk about using artificial sweeteners.

    If you are a sugar addict, my suggestion is this: where you are using white sugar add smaller amounts and use honey and sucanat or other natural sweeteners.

    Oh and Fructose, without the accompanying fiber and other nutrients is WORSE than using natural sugar.

    Here is a good video/web page that explains it: http://www.westonaprice.org/beginner-videos/natural-sweeteners-video-by-sarah-pope

  45. ugh, such an old post, but hopefully someone will see and offer a solution…So, I currently (and for the past 7 years) drink 2 24 oz. iced coffees a day. This is the only thing I ever drink other than water. In the coffee 🙁 ~ 2 splenda (occassionally 1) and a serving of coffee mate sugarfree hazlenut non-dairy creamer. I love the hazlenut, so I have contemplated switching to flavored coffee. I do well on dairy, so would probably use a shot of heavy cream or whipping cream – but where will I get the “sweetness”!! Refuse to do any sugar, and I don’t necessarily think my coffee consumption causes issues for me, but if there is a primal alternative (other than none), would love to hear such a thing….I know the coffeemate is baaaadddddddd! But it tastes oh-so-good, that my husband, non-primal, likes to refer to it as a 24oz. cup of pure pleasure, and I wholeheartedly agree…

    1. HAHAHA!!! How things change! Have since quit the coffee mate and the splenda! Now I drink my iced coffee unsweetened, with heavy whipping cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon (an antioxidant-go me), tastes like an iced cappuccino all day! For a treat, I sprinkle ghirardelli unsweetened baking cocoa on there instead.

  46. Only one person mentioned this… honey! Nature’s natural sweetener. Honey was HIGHLY prized by hunter-gatherers due to it’s high calorie content and great taste. I live in the outback where some Aboriginals still practice their skills. Things they go after are ‘sugarbags’ (native bee honey, lerp on plants (insect honeydew) and ‘Honeypot Ants’. Youtube the ants, it will blow your mind haha. I was privileged enough to have eaten some collected by the women and it tastes even better than regular honey.

  47. I find myself gravitating to honey. I noted elsewhere my love affair with coffee and its good effects on me. I was in my early 20s when I figured out that putting table sugar in coffee made me seriously ill. I switched to honey then. One tablespoon in my usual 40-oz mug of strong black organic coffee with heavy organic cream. I’ve drunk this for 30 years. Getting honey in cafes used to be like asking for a volume of Karl Marx in Texas…but it’s more normalized now.

    Tried agave. It made me jaggy and farty. Just like HFCS (which I’ve banned forever, but sometimes you end up ingesting it at a social or business occasion).

    My palate needs very little sugar. Boreal indigenous people just don’t need it. Honey comes at the end of summer, and you store and eat it before and into winter. But during the spring, summer, and fall there are so many other things to eat. But remember that honeybees are not native to the New World. We Asian/Uralic genome people probably tolerate it better.

    1. HIt send too soon. Honeybees are native to southern and SE Asia.

  48. I love Xylitol. It’s actually made from birch sap wich is collected and crystallised. It doesn’t raise blood sugar levels and is insulin neutral. I bake with it no problem. As to causing diarrhea, you’d have to use a lot to suffer this effect. I would have thought, given that migratory North American Indians used to collect birch sap together with Maple sap, Xylitol might fit in quite well with the Paleo idea? What do you think?

  49. I swear by Xylitol. I have no adverse effects whatsoever (ie: weight gain, headaches, crashes) I know this because I’ve been using it for as long as I’ve been Primal (about 6 months)
    Liquid Stevia extract also has never given me an issue, but it’s just not suited for certain endeavors. Yuck!

  50. This is so confusing,I though Stevie may be a pure,so I can use it but to read all that I am not sure to use it it’s better to use regular sugar as less as I can .

  51. I’ve personally used Stevia for over 12 years now, I prefer the liquid Extract and have used KAL or NOW Foods Better Stevia. I do not experience that weird after taste with either one and no odd side effects. A couple drops in a glass of water with half a lemon…best lemonaide.

    Also just learned about Just Like Sugar which is made here in Nevada. All natural, sold at Whole Foods I believe and online. I have not tried it yet. Some say it isn’t as sweet as sugar…ok, that’s a good thing though right? It’s low glycemic and used in 90 countries. Their website is http://www.justlikesugariskosher.com and also http://www.justlikesugarinc.com Nice folks, I’ve spoken to them personally in doing some other research. I have no involvemet w/their company. A WF just opened here so I may be able to try it now.

  52. i tried aspartarme for a month. don’t. this stuff is poison; makes you gain weight AND depression.

  53. I’m starting to use palm (coconut) sugar which seems to be a nice natural substitute that’s supposed to be nicer on the system. Any comments?

  54. Took me about a month to get used to the aftertaste of stevia. But I’m sure glad I invested in it! I only use it for coffee though. So in the end it’s better to just train your appetite for sweets to fruit.

  55. Hey there are some nutritional supplements I can swallow without a little stevia.

    My first 100 pounds of weight loss was when I dropped my coke habit. I did this by substituting first apple juice and then apple juice cut with more water and stevia. Boy did the pounds fly off!