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Artificial sweetener raises blood sugar,says study

Sweetener which became popular over past decade has been found to increase blood sugar.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | May 4, 2013 3:00:40 am

The “zero-calorie” artificial sweetener has gone sour. The sweetener which became quite popular over the past decade has been found to increase blood sugar,making it anything but safe for diabetics,its USP.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have found that “zero-calorie” sucralose — marketed as splenda,sucra plus and said to be twice as sweet as saccharine and three times as sweet as aspartame — is not metabolically inert as was believed and instead raises blood sugar. It does so possibly by acting on receptors in intestines that mediate uptake of glucose into blood,thereby rendering them more efficient.

The study,published in Diabetes Care,lands a blow to artificial sweeteners,which have over the years been marketed as a panacea of sorts for diabetics and are emerging as a magic potion for weight watchers. “This is a very important study because it goes against the established wisdom of sucralose being safe. It shows it cannot be safe for diabetics or weight-watchers because the effect it has on glucose absorption would then expose body to toxic levels of blood sugar that will lead to harm in the long term. This will open floodgates of safety studies,” said Dr Anoop Misra,chairman,Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes,Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology.

Sucralose is a recent addition to a range of artificial sweeteners approved during the 1990s — like saccharin,aspartame,acesulfame potassium,neotame,stevia,and Luo han guo extract — and has topped safety studies at the recommended daily intake of 1.1 mg/kg/day. It has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and such organisations across the world.

The researchers administered 17 obese,insulin-sensitive persons a sucralose solution and water on separate occasions before giving them a constant amount of glucose.

The mean peak plasma glucose concentration was found steeper on sucralose and the subsequent nadir lower. Sucralose slowed insulin clearance rate from blood that may indicate longer duration of high blood sugar levels.

“These data suggest that sucralose ingestion is not physiologically inert but affects glycemic response to an oral glucose load and potentiates glucose stimulated insulin secretion in obese people,” the researchers concluded.

Though studies on animals had established an association between sucralose and higher blood sugar,so firm was the medical fraternity’s belief in its metabolic neutrality that sucralose,along with aspartame,remains the most commonly-used products among diabetics the world over,says Dr Ambrish Mitha,head of endocrinology at Medanta Medicity.

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