Can Chemical Sweeteners Interact With Insulin?

The manufacturers for the various sugar-free products market their diet sweeteners as completely safe for diabetics. But, their clinical studies represent merely a fragment of the diverse effects chemical sweeteners can have on diabetic individuals, particularly Type I diabetics. An important point that is overlooked: it is vital to monitor chemical sweetener interactions with the various types of diabetic medications.

Here's a good example: a small independent study of diabetic patients using sucralose resulted in a significant increase in glycosylated hemoglobin (Hba1C), which is a marker of long-term blood glucose levels used to assess glycemic control in diabetic patients. (Translation: blood sugar increases were observed from sucralose use in diabetics.)

The FDA reviewed the study, and responded with: "...increases in glycosolation in hemoglobin imply lessening control of diabetes." (Translation: from this study, they agreed with the apparent results that sucralose raised blood sugar levels in the diabetic control group.)

Because of the small patient group size of this study, however, McNeil Nutritionals defended that the clinical significance was not determined, so the FDA suggested more research, which McNeil did. The studies were modified from the original tests performed, and it was eventually determined that sucralose at lower doses were safe for diabetics. But, the tests were not the same. As stated in the FDA Final Rule report relating to the final studies performed: "Serum insulin levels were not measured in this (subsequent) study."

NOTE: this goes back to the amount of Splenda® the body absorbs:

"Numerous studies have shown that SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener, or sucralose, is suitable for people with diabetes," the marketers state. Why is it safe? Well, they claim: "Sucralose is not recognized by the body as sugar or as a carbohydrate, so it is not metabolized by the body and does not affect blood glucose levels. Sucralose has no affect on carbohydrate metabolism or insulin secretion. Foods and beverages sweetened with SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener can provide good tasting, lower calorie alternatives for people with diabetes who are interested in reducing their calorie or sugar intake."

Posted April 2006 | Permanent Link

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