Category Archives: Saccharin

Another reason to avoid artificial sweeteners — they may actually RAISE blood sugar

artificial-sweetenersSeems sort of counterintuitive, doesn’t it? The sweeteners that have been developed to help people control their weight and avoid diabetes that are featured in diet soda, yogurt and other foods can raise the blood sugar level instead of reducing it, according to new experiments in mice and people.

The provocative finding—made possible through a new avenue of research—is likely to stoke the simmering controversy over whether artificial sweeteners help or hinder people’s ability to lose weight and lower their risk of diabetes.

The research shows that zero-calorie sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose and aspartame can alter the population of bacteria in the gut and trigger unwanted changes such as higher blood glucose levels—a risk factor for diabetes.

“The scope of our discovery is cause for a public reassessment of the massive and unsupervised use of artificial sweeteners,” said Eran Elinav, a physician and immunologist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and lead author of the study, which appeared Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Though many people consume artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to control their weight, the scientific evidence that they work is mixed. Some studies have indicated that the sweeteners can help lead to weight loss, while others suggest they contribute to weight gain.

One reason is that it isn’t clear whether people who consume artificial sweeteners are overweight because of what they eat—or whether overweight people are the ones who typically gravitate to such products.

Based on existing evidence, guidelines jointly published in 2012 by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association noted that artificial sweeteners “when used judiciously…could facilitate reductions in added sugar,” and thus influence weight loss.

The new Nature study marks a significant advance because it brings together two separate areas of research—the role of sweeteners in raising blood sugar levels, and the complex workings of the vast colonies of bacteria that inhabit the gut. Individuals can have differing bacterial colonies in their gut, meaning people respond differently to what they consume.

In one experiment, the researchers found that mice whose diets included saccharin, sucralose or aspartame had significantly higher blood-glucose levels than mice whose diet included sugar, or no sugar at all.

They next wanted to test whether the fake sweeteners caused that metabolic change by altering the balance of microbes in the animals’ gut.
They transplanted bacteria from artificial-sweetener-fed mice or sugar-fed mice into other mice that were bred to have no gut bacteria of their own and that had never consumed a sweetener product. They found that the bacterial transfer from the sweetener-fed mice raised the blood sugar levels in the transplant recipients—suggesting that the gut microbes had triggered the higher sugar levels in mice fed fake sweeteners.

Was the same link true for people? Dr. Elinav and his colleagues examined the relationship between long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners and various metabolic measurements in some 380 nondiabetic people.

They found that the bacteria in the gut of those who regularly ate fake sweeteners were notably different from those who didn’t. In addition, there was a correlation between the sweetener consumption and a susceptibility to glucose intolerance, which is a disturbance in the blood glucose level.

Correlation, however, doesn’t necessarily mean causation. In the next experiment, seven volunteers who normally didn’t consume fake sugar were asked to consume products high in the sweeteners. After four days, four of them had significantly higher blood-sugar levels as well as altered populations of bacteria in their gut—an outcome similar to what was seen in mice.

“This susceptibility to sweeteners [can now] be predicted ahead of time by profiling the microbes in the people,” said Eran Segal, a co-author of the study and computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute.
The results need to be corroborated through a study with many more participants.

In a statement, the Calorie Control Council, a trade group that represents makers of artificial sweeteners and other food products, said the Nature study suffered from several limitations. It said the results from the mouse experiments may not apply to humans, while the human experiments had a small sample size. It said further research was needed.

FoodFacts.com has never had anything good to say about artificial sweeteners. Reports of negative health effects have far outweighed the marketed benefits. Research like this points straight to the idea that artificial sweeteners are not only unnecessary, but actually harmful — harmful enough that Dr. Elinav, the study’s lead author, stopped using them completely once he saw the results. That should certainly tell us something.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/research-shows-zero-calorie-sweeteners-can-raise-blood-sugar-1410973201
http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140917/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar?page=2

Get to know the controversial Food Additive known as Saccharin

saccharin
Saccharin
An artificial sweetener 300 to 500 times sweeter than sugar. Discovered in 1879, it’s the oldest of the five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners. Starting in 1907, the USDA began investigating saccharin as a direct result of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Harvey Wiley, then the director of the bureau of chemistry for the USDA, viewed it as an illegal substitution of a valuable ingredient (sugar) by a less valuable ingredient. In a clash that had career consequences, Wiley told then President Theodore Roosevelt that “Everyone who ate that sweet corn was deceived. He thought he was eating sugar, when in point of fact he was eating a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health.” But Roosevelt himself was a consumer of saccharin, and in a heated exchange, Roosevelt angrily answered Wiley by stating, “Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot.”[15] The episode proved the undoing of Wiley’s career.

In 1911, the Food Inspection Decision 135 stated that foods containing saccharin were adulterated. However in 1912, Food Inspection Decision 142 stated that saccharin was not harmful.

More controversy was stirred in 1969 with the discovery of files from the FDA’s investigations of 1948 and 1949. These investigations, which had originally argued against saccharin use, were shown to prove little about saccharin being harmful to human health. In 1972 the USDA made an attempt to completely ban the substance.[16] However, this attempt was also unsuccessful and the sweetener is widely used in the United States; it is the third-most popular after sucralose and aspartame.

In the European Union saccharin is also known by the E number (additive code) E954.

The current status of saccharin is that it is allowed in most countries, and countries like Canada are considering lifting their previous ban of it as a food additive.[17] The concerns that it is associated with bladder cancer were proved to be without foundation in experiments on primates.[18]

Saccahrin was formerly on California’s list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for the purposes of Proposition 65, but it was delisted in 2001

FOUND IN Diet foods, chewing gum, toothpaste, beverages, sugar-free candy, and Sweet ‘N Low.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Rat studies in the early ‘70s showed saccharin to cause bladder cancer, and the FDA, reacting to these studies, enacted a mandatory warning label to be printed on every saccharin-containing product. The label was removed after 20 years, but the question over saccharin’s safety was never resolved. More recent studies show that rats on saccharin-rich diets gain more weight than those on high-sugar diets.