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"Sugar Substitutes/Artificial Sweeteners"
By Julie W.

No more controversial subjects come up on the message boards than when someone asks "What is this sweetener, is it safe, and will it stall me?" Ultimately the decision to use artificial sweeteners has to be an individual one. The effects could be as different and individual as we all are.

I am personally a little leery of studies done on lab animals given massive dosages for their size. Coming to a definitive conclusion that a human (being 100's of times the size of the lab animal) who uses them occasionally, could be at the same risks as reported in their "studies" doesn't cut it with me.

However, I have heard first hand from people who have had adverse reactions to nearly ALL of the artificial sweeteners out there, with the exception of perhaps Stevia. The major complaint about Stevia is the bitter and/or licorice taste.

The adverse reactions to artificial sweeteners I have heard about, range from ending up in the hospital to headaches with their use. These include the artificial sweeteners recommended in "the books" by different low-carb authors. Even mild symptoms could be red flags that YOUR body will not tolerate their use. Red flags such as stomach distress, fuzzy head, unexplained cravings, stalls, and even weight gain. Many people report no adverse reactions at all in any area.

The cause of reactions is as mysterious as the individual person. I remember Rani Merens sharing, on one of my lists, that she suspected the "stalling", so common with artificial sweetener use, may be more from the fillers used in granular and powder forms rather than liquids. Those fillers are usually maltodextrin and/or dextrose. This could also be true with other reported adverse effects. Each of us will have different reactions or combination of reactions. Some of us will have none at all, either physically or visibly.

Do I personally use artificial sweeteners? Yes, occasionally, but almost exclusively liquid. I am one of those people who get cravings triggered if I overdo. I'm also a "no one can eat just one" woman. If I have a low carb cheesecake sitting in my fridge for more than a day, its not there long. I limit my treats to holidays and now and then. I don't "over make" so there are tons of leftover goodies. I make just enough of the low carb sweets my family love also, so its gone soon after serving. I consciously know my limits and don't set myself up for failure. IF I overdo, I am mindful of the symptoms, the cause, and I ride it out.

I don't and can't spend my days worrying IF I will die from using artificial sweeteners occasionally. I'm too busy LIVING this healthy life I have now that I've found low carb! In my opinion, there is little in our world that is pure anymore. From the water we drink to the air we breathe, there are chemicals in everything. Our soil no longer contains the nutrients to give our produce the vitamins and minerals it once contained. All I can do is make the best decisions on what and how often I "choose to use".

 

Artificial Sweeteners:

Below you'll find a wide variety of information on the most common sugar substitutes.


Acesulfame K
Alitame
Aspartame
Cyclamate
Erythritol
Fructose
HSH
Isomalt
Lactitol
Maltitol
Mannitol
Neotame
Saccharin
Sorbitol
Stevia
Sucralose
Xylitol


 



 

Sweetness: 200 times sweeter than sugar Use in Cooking: Stable in all baking and cooking at high temps, including withstanding pasteurization. Found in: gum, oral hygiene products, medications, dry beverage mixes, desserts, candy, and dairy products Sold as tabletop product: yes Brand Names: Sunett' by Nutrinova, Inc., a Celanese Americas Corporation subsidiary. Sweet One Countries available in: 90 History: 1967 by Hoechst AG. Has been used in Europe since 1983, and in the U.S. since 1988 Digestion: is not metabolized by the body and is excreted unchanged, therefore non-caloric Medical: has no effect on serum glucose, cholesterol, or triglycerides Safety: The FDA has set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for acesulfame K of 15 milligrams per kilogram of body weight


 

Sweetness: 2000 times sweeter than sugar Use in Cooking: Stable in all baking and cooking at high temps Found in: gum, oral hygiene products, medications, dry beverage mixes, desserts, candy, and dairy products Sold as tabletop product: yes Brand Names: Aclame' History: discovered by Pfizer, Inc Digestion: passes through the body with minimal metabolic changes Medical: has no effect on serum glucose, cholesterol, or triglycerides Safety: A petition for alitame's use in a broad range of foods and beverages has been filed in the U.S


 

Sweetness: 200 times sweeter than sugar Composition: the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, and a small amount of methanol Use in Cooking: is not chemically or heat stable, breaks down into its chemical components Found in: more than 6,000 products Sold as tabletop product: yes Brand Names: Equal and NutraSweet History: Discovered in 1965, approved in 1981 Digestion: found in much greater amounts in common foods, such as meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables Medical: has no effect on serum glucose, cholesterol, or triglycerides Safety: reviewed in more than 100 countries have reviewed aspartame and found it to be safe for use


 

Sweetness: 30 times sweeter than sugar Use in Cooking: heat stable Found in: mostly beverages Sold as tabletop product: yes particularly in combination with saccharin Brand Names: SugarTwin, Sucaryl History: discovered in 1937, banned in 1970 Digestion: Most people do not metabolize cyclamate, although some do Medical: has no effect on serum glucose, cholesterol, or triglycerides Safety: Approved for use in more than 50 countries. Currently there is a petition before FDA to reapprove cyclamate in the U.S.


 

Sweetness: 75% the sweetness of sugar Components: polyol (sugar alcohol) present in fruits such as pears, melons and grapes Use in Cooking: heat stable Found in: gum, oral hygiene products, medications, dry beverage mixes, desserts, candy, and dairy products Sold as tabletop product: yes Brand Names: Available at Netrition, Produced by Cerestar Holding B.V., Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and Nikken Chemicals Co History: Has been used since 1990 Digestion: is metabolized by the body and has a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram. More than 90% of ingested erythritol is absorbed and excreted unchanged in urine within a 24-hour period. Medical: has no effect on serum glucose, insulin levels, does not promote tooth decay Safety: petition submitted for filing to the FDA on January 15, 1997. Daily consumption of 1 gram per kilogram body weight considered safe.


 

Sweetness: 1.8 times sweeter than sugar Components: present in fruits, vegetables and honey, refined into high fructose syrup Use in Cooking: heat stable Found in: many food products and medications such as cough syrups. Sold as tabletop product: yes Brand Names: Danisco Sweeteners History: replaced sugar in food products in the mid 1970's. Digestion: doesn't require insulin, it is rapidly absorbed by the liver and converted to glycerol Medical: known to raise Triglyceride and cholesterol levels Safety: GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)


 

Sweetness: 40 to 90 percent of the sweetness of sugar Components: product of partial hydrolysis of corn, wheat or potato starch Use in Cooking: heat stable Found in: many food products, mostly to provide texture or prevent crystallization, dental products Sold as tabletop product: no Brand Names: produced by SPI Polyols, Roquette America, Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Company History: Developed in Sweden in the 1960's Digestion: more slowly absorbed in the digestive tract. A portion of HSH in a food reaches the lower digestive tract where it is metabolized by naturally occurring colonic bacteria. This results in a reduction in the available calories and permits its use as a reduced calorie alternative to sugar. Medical: a reduced glycemic potential relative to glucose for individuals with and without diabetes Safety: petitions for HSH have been accepted for filing by the FDA


 

Sweetness: 45% to 65% of the sweetness of sugar, has same volume measure as sugar Components: made from beet sugar, mixture of two disaccharide alcohols, gluco mannitol and gluco sorbitol Use in Cooking: stable even with high temps. More stable, chemically and enzymatically, than sugar Found in: as hard candies, toffee, lollipops, fudge, wafers, cough drops and throat lozenges Sold as tabletop product: No Brand Names: Produced Isomalt USA and Cerestar History: Discovered in the 1960s, available since the early 1980s in 40 countries Digestion: digestible carbohydrate which is only partially digested in the intestines. In the lower part of the intestinal tract, some of the non-absorbed portion is metabolized by colonic bacteria. These normal physiologic processes, which may sometimes in some people cause softer stools or more intestinal gas than usual, are similar to how the body responds to high-fiber foods, beans and prunes. Has 2 calories per gram Medical: blood glucose and insulin values do not differ significantly from baseline levels Safety: (GRAS) are not considered food additives and, therefore, do not require review and approval by the FDA prior to use.


 

Sweetness: 40% of the sweetness of sugar Components: Lactitol is manufactured by reducing the glucose part of the disaccharide lactose Use in Cooking: N/A Found in: as ice cream, chocolate, hard and soft candies, baked goods, sugar reduced preserves, chewing gums and sugar substitutes Sold as tabletop product: No Brand Names: produced by DANISCO SWEETENERS and PURAC BIOCHEM, Hershey's Sugar free chocolate History: Discovered in 1920, it was first used in foods in the 1980's Digestion: lactitol is not hydrolyzed by lactase. It is neither hydrolyzed nor absorbed in the small intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine metabolize Lactitol. 2 calories per gram, consumption of 20 grams per day of polyols, including lactitol, is unlikely to cause undesirable laxative symptoms Medical: a low glycemic index, does not induce an increase in blood glucose or insulin levels, does not cause dental caries Safety: a GRAS affirmation petition for the use of lactitol in chewing gum, hard and soft candy and frozen dairy desserts. Was accepted for filing by the FDA in September 1993.


 

Sweetness: 90% as sweet as sugar Components: hydrogenation of maltose, which is obtained from starch Found in: sugarless hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates, baked goods and ice cream, medications Sold as tabletop product: No Brand Names: produced by Cerestar, Roquette, SPI Polyols, Inc. and Towa Chemical Industry Co., LTD Digestion: Absorption of maltitol by the human body is slow, allowing part of the ingested maltitol to reach the large intestine where metabolism yields fewer calories. 2.1 calories per gram Medical: the rise in blood glucose and the insulin response associated with the ingestion of glucose is significantly reduced. Safety: GRAS


 

Sweetness: 50% as sweet as sugar Components: is an isomer of sorbitol and is typically produced today by the hydrogenation of specialty glucose syrups. Found in abundance in nature, particularly in exudates from trees, and in marine algae and fresh mushrooms Found in: often used as a dusting powder for chewing gum to prevent the gum from sticking to manufacturing equipment and wrappers, pharmaceuticals and nutritional tablets, candy. Sold as tabletop product: Yes Brand Names: Produced by Cerestar, Roquette America, and SPI Polyols History: has been used safely around the world for over 60 years. Digestion: only partially digested in the intestines. In the lower part of the intestinal tract, colonic bacteria metabolize some of the non-absorbed portion. In some people, this may occasionally cause softer stools or more intestinal gas than usual, similar to the effects of complex carbohydrate foods such as beans or prunes. Medical: the rise in blood glucose and demand for insulin is much less than would be experienced after sugar ingestion. 1.6 calories per gram Safety: FDS regulation requires the following label statement for the daily ingestion of 20 grams of mannitol: "Excess consumption may have a laxative effect."


 

Sweetness: 13,000 times sweeter than sugar Components: derivative of the dipeptide composed of the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine Use in Cooking: Heat stable Found in: chewing gum, carbonated soft drinks, refrigerated and non-refrigerated ready-to-drink beverages, tabletop sweeteners, frozen desserts and novelties, puddings and fillings, yogurt-type products, baked goods and candies Sold as tabletop product: No Brand Names: Produced by Nutrasweet Digestion: Quickly metabolized and fully eliminated by the body via normal biological processes Medical: has no effect on plasma glucose and insulin concentrations or on glycemic control in diabetic individuals Safety: FDA approved July 2002


 

Sweetness: 300 time sweeter than sugar Use in Cooking: Heat stable, although some consider it bitter Found in: soft drinks, baked goods, jams, chewing gum, canned fruit, candy, dessert toppings and salad dressings. Saccharin also is used in cosmetic products, vitamins and pharmaceuticals Sold as tabletop product: Yes Brand Names: Sweet'n LowTM and HermesetasTM History: discovered in 1879 by Constantine Fahlberg, In 1991, the FDA formally withdrew its 1977 proposal to ban the use of saccharin Digestion: is not metabolized (it passes through the body unchanged) and does not react with DNA (nucleic acid present in all living cells), meaning that saccharin lacks two of the major characteristics of a classical carcinogen. Medical: is not metabolized in the human body excreted within 24 hours, therefore no calories Safety: Extensive research on human populations has established no association between saccharin and cancer. More than 30 human studies have been completed and indicate saccharin's safety at human levels of consumption


 

Sweetness: 60 % as sweet as sugar Components: produced by the hydrogenation of glucose Use in Cooking: Heat stable to high temps Found in: occurs naturally in a wide variety of fruits and berries, chewing gums, candies, frozen desserts, cookies, cakes, icings and fillings as well as oral care products, including toothpaste and mouthwash. Sold as tabletop product: No, but can be purchased as a solution through a pharmacy Brand Names: Produced by including Archer Daniels Midland, Lonza Inc., Roquette America, Inc. and SPI Polyols, Inc. History: A French chemist first discovered sorbitol in the berries of the mountain ash in 1872 Medical: the rise in blood glucose and the insulin response associated with the ingestion of glucose is significantly reduced. 2.6 calories per gram Safety: GRAS, has been safely used in processed foods for almost half a century


 

Sweetness: 10-15 times sweeter than sugar Components: derived from a South American plant, stevia rebaudiana, whole leaf contains numerous phytonutrients and trace minerals Use in Cooking: heat stable Found in: only used as a nutritional supplement in the USA at this time. Japan has been using it in many products since 1970. Sold as tabletop product: Yes Brand Names: Sweetleaf, Sweetvia, Sweevia History: has been used to sweeten a native beverage called mate since Pre-Columbian times, Antonio Bertoni first recorded its usage by native tribes in 1887 Safety: In September of 1995, the FDA revised its import alert to allow Stevia and its extracts to be imported as a food supplement but not as a sweetener. Yet, it defines Stevia as an unapproved food additive, not affirmed as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) in the United States.


 

Sweetness: is 600 times sweeter than sugar Components: process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule Use in Cooking: heat stable Found in: products sweetened with SPLENDA are on supermarket shelves, such as carbonated soft drinks, low-calorie fruit drinks, maple syrup, and apple sauce. Sold as tabletop product: Yes Brand Names: Splenda History: Discovered in 1976 Digestion: is not utilized for energy in the body because it is not broken down like sugar. It passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged Medical: has no effect on carbohydrate metabolism, short or long-term blood glucose control, or insulin secretion Safety: granted approval by the FDA on April 1, 1998 for general use


 

Sweetness: matches the sweetness of sugar Components: occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is even produced by the human body during normal metabolism Found in: chewing gum, gum drops and hard candy, and in pharmaceuticals and oral health products such as throat lozenges, cough syrups, children's chewable multivitamins, toothpastes and mouthwashes Brand Names: Denta Sweet History: Discovered in 1891 by German chemist Emil Fischer, used in foods since the 1960's Digestion: Our bodies produce up to 15 grams of xylitol from other food sources using established energy pathways Medical: associated with significantly reduced new caries formation, the rise in blood glucose and insulin response associated with the ingestion of glucose is significantly reduced. 2.4 calories per gram Safety: approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products in more than 35 countries

 

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