*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
I emphasized on a recent segment of GMA that avoiding daily consumption of artificial sweeteners is one of the five things people can do to avoid type 2 diabetes. I am happy to share with you the research (and my own experience as an internal medicine doctor treating many diabetics over the past 25 years) that led to this conclusion. The segment did not address whether type 2 diabetics should avoid artificial sweeteners, although it is my opinion that they too should think twice before consuming them on a regular basis. I am also concerned about the growing number of our youth with type 2 diabetes and the growing consumption of foods with "hidden" artificial sweeners such as low calorie yogurts, beverages including enriched waters and sports drinks.
There have been two recent large observational studies that suggest that the regular use of artificial sweeteners as little as one can of diet soda a day can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by 30-40% or more. The first was published last year in Circulation and is a continuation of the ongoing study in Framingham, Massacusetts. The second observational study was from the Atherosclerosis in the Community which was reported earlier this year. Both these studies observed that healthy residents increased their risk of the pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome by 30-40% with as little as one can of diet soda daily.
A third recent study from researchers at Purdue University studied rats and found that those who were fed artificially sweetened yogurt actually ate fewer calories but gained more fat. They found that the rats eating artifically sweetened yogurt tended not to register "full" and also had a lower metabolic rate in response to the food. The researchers believe that sweet caloric foods normally instruct the brain to speed up metabolism to handle the extra calories but that regular use of artificially sweetened food seems to trick the brain so that eventually the brain doesn't increase metabolism even when challeneged with caloric sweets. So it is believed that over time with daily consumption the brain simply ignores the metabolic and hormonal signals that sweet foods should elicit.
Sweet foods in nature come primarily from fruits - which are also packed full of vitamins and high fiber. The fiber is well known to delay the insulin response and avoid the spikes in blood sugar and insulin that ordinarily follow a sugar/sweet meal. So in my opinion it makes most sense for people to consume sweets in their natural form - whole fruits - and limit even the processed fruit juices which also have been shown to recently increase the risk of diabetes in women. Even one serving of fruit juice increased the risk of developing diabetes by 18%. This comes from the famous Harvard Nurses Health Study.
Finally, I had noticed for years in my practice that some patients who were overweight and prediabetic were literally dependant on diet sodas and I long suspected there was a link between their consumption of artificially sweetened drinks and their resistant health problems
Hope this is of some help.
Dr. Marie Savard