Dr. Sweet

Doctor’s Orders – Our Own Resident Expert: Dr. Sweet

On Health & Nutrition:

The Sweet and Not-So-Sweet History of Substitute Sweeteners

For something so sweet, the history of substitute sweeteners has shared a storied past. Over the years, each ingredient has been scrutinized, analyzed, tested, tried and approved, but not without skepticism. Here’s a little sweet and not-so-sweet history of our Simple Sweetener ingredients.

Saccharin is the oldest artificial sweetener on the market today. It is also the most controversial. It was approved by the FDA for consumption due to the escalating sugar shortages brought on by World War I and II, but after a study in the 1970’s it was shown to cause bladder cancer in rats. No links, however, have been proven to cause any issues with humans. Saccharin is currently used to sweeten goods such as drinks, candies, cookies, toothpaste, and medicines.


In the 80’s and 90’s the mixture of Saccharin and Aspartame helped to sweeten diet drinks, but since then Aspartame has taken over as the only sweetener used in most diet drinks. It’s used in popular brands such as NutraSweet and Equal, and is a part of the new wave of artificial sweeteners.

After its initial FDA approval in 1974, a medical review was conducted in 2007 and determined that “the weight of existing scientific evidence indicates that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a non-nutritive sweetener.” That said, it does have its health risks as well.

For people with the rare condition of phenylketonuria, Aspartame has shown some reactions and is not recommended. Pregnant women are also discouraged from consuming it whether having this condition or not. Most complications with Aspartame, however, are rare and sometimes include headache, dizziness, and nausea.


Sucralose is one of the newest and safest zero calorie sugar substitutes on the market as it passes easily through the body. Sucralose is a highly concentrated sweetener made from sugar and around 600 times sweeter than sugar. Since 1995, numerous bottling companies have swapped out Aspartame for Sucralose .

Stevia and Erythritol

Commonly referred to as the most advanced sugar-like substitute sweetener on the market, Stevia and Erythritol taste and feel the most like sugar. A derivative of the Stevia plant, the refined Rebaudioside A compound is FDA approved and an immense improvement in flavor over the previous sweetener substitutes to date. Purification and process control determine the variety of flavor and bitterness in the blend.

Whether your goal is cutting calories or eating healthier, options for sugar substitutes abound. The popularity of artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes is on the rise as manufacturers and consumers seek lower calorie alternatives to regular white sugar without sacrificing sweetness. But first, you should get a better understanding about what artificial and other sugar substitutes are exactly.
Take Control of Your Sugar Intake

The control of sugar intake is absolutely crucial for diabetic patients. In a healthy person, the blood glucose level is regulated by insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a small organ between the stomach and liver. Insulin allows glucose to move from the blood into liver, muscle, and fat cells, where it is used for fuel.

People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use insulin properly (type 2 diabetes), or both (which occurs with several forms of diabetes).

Pre-diabetes is a common condition related to diabetes. In people with pre-diabetes, the blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic

  • Pre-diabetes increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of heart disease or stroke
  • Pre-diabetes can typically be reversed without insulin or medication by losing a modest amount of weight and increasing your physical activity. This weight loss can prevent, or at least delay, the onset of type 2 diabetes.
  • Approximately 20% more adults are now believed to have this condition and may develop diabetes within 10 years if they do not exercise or maintain a healthy weight.

Complications of Diabetes

? Diabetic Eye – damage to the retina and increase prevalence of cataracts
? Diabetic neuropathy – damage to nerve and loss in sensation
? Damage to small arteries – combining diabetic neuropathy will be a major cause of foot wound and ulcers (diabetic foot) which frequently lead to foot and leg amputations.
? Diabetic nephropathy – damage to kidney and a major cause of kidney failure
? Diabetes accelerates atherosclerosis, (the formation of fatty plaques inside the arteries), which can lead to blockages or a clot (thrombus). Such changes can then lead to heart attack, stroke, and decreased circulation in the arms and legs (peripheral vascular disease).
? Metabolic Syndrome

is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Pathogenesis of Diabetic Complications – Glycation

Hyperglycemia (High blood glucose) facilitates glycation process, combining protein and some lipid in blood to form the irreversible sugar-derived product – Advanced Glycation End Products (“AGEs”). AGEs form at a constant slow rate in the normal body and accumulate with time. However their formulation is markedly accelerated in diabetes because of the increases availability of sugar in blood.

Simple Sweetener Sweetness Chart
Simple Sweetener Chart