Using Artificial Sweeteners and Carbs Together Promotes Insulin Sensitivity

artificial sweeteners
Steve Snodgrass via flickr

Recently, a new study conducted by researchers from Yale University in New Haven looks at the impact of different food combinations on the insulin sensitivity of a person. More specifically, it accentuates how taking carbohydrates with artificial sweeteners can be potentially harmful.

Insulin is one of the fundamental hormones produced by the pancreas in order to break down sugars present in the foods consumed on a daily basis. The body is able to produce appropriate amounts of the hormone only because of the sense of taste and sensitivity.

Hence, when the insulin sensitivity of a person is affected, it can lead to a number of serious issues ranging from problems in the digestion to metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

Therefore, insulin sensitivity is one of the key markers in various issues related to metabolism and is always checked regularly in people who are at high risk of metabolic issues.

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Avoiding lifestyle habits, foods, and other factors that can affect the sensitivity is mandatory for preventing associated issues in the future. Health experts suggest sticking to a healthy diet with controlled sugar and cutting down on alcohol and smoking.

Now, the new research, whose findings appear in the journal Cell Metabolism, shows that certain combinations of foods can also significantly affect the insulin sensitivity of a person in comparison with other foods.

The senior researchers, Dana Small, states “When we set out to do this study, the question that was driving us was whether or not repeated consumption of an artificial sweetener would lead to a degrading of the predictive ability of sweet taste,”

She further explains “This would be important because sweet-taste perception might lose the ability to regulate metabolic responses that prepare the body for metabolizing glucose or carbohydrates in general,”

However, the researchers, instead of looking at this initial theory, discovered a surprising connection between insulin sensitivity and consuming carbohydrates with artificial sweeteners.

This conclusion was reached after the researchers observed forty-five participants, all of whom were between the ages of twenty to forty-five and were healthy for a time period of two weeks.

These participants were further divided into two groups. Either group members were not asked to make any changes in the diet. Both groups were only required to have seven fruit-flavored juices.

In the first group, the drinks had either normal sugar or artificial sweeteners. The second group members had drinks containing maltodextrin, which is a carbohydrate and an artificial sugar called sucralose.

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According to the researchers, maltodextrin was adding in order to control the ‘sweetness’ of the drinks and control the calories present in them.

In addition to drinking the fruit juices, the participants also underwent functional MRIs before and after the two weeks period which allowed researchers to monitor any changes in the brain activity.

After the observatory period, the researchers found surprising changes in the brain activity of participants in the second group including altered glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity as well as the brain’s response to sweet taste.

Upon seeing these results, there was an additional seven-week trial with participants who only consumed juices containing sucralose and maltodextrin which showed that neither of these alone caused the changes in the brain activity alone.

In fact, it was a combination of both that caused the alterations. The researchers are unclear about the mechanism behind this but suggest avoiding the combination of both for reducing the risk of negative effects on insulin sensitivity and sugar metabolism.

About the author

Areeba Hussain

Graduated in Medical Microbiology, Areeba is working as a full-time medical writer for the last few years. She enjoys summarizing the latest researches into readable news to convey the recent advancements in medicine and human health.

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