Are Artificial Sweeteners Any Better Than Sugar?

By: Dr. James Yoon


If you think that drinking zero-calorie diet sodas are a healthy alternative to sugar containing drinks, you may be misinformed. The results of a first-in-human study in healthy volunteers demonstrated that regular consumption of diet drinks alter the gut response to glucose, leading to altered blood sugar regulation, and can therefore predispose people to developing type 2 diabetes.

In a 2 week, double-blind, randomized parallel-group clinical study, healthy volunteers were assessed on the effects of diet supplementation with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and acesulfame-K, often found in diet sodas and beverages. Taken in the form of capsules, three times daily before meals, blinded participants received either the artificial sweeteners, equivalent to drinking 1.2 to 1.5 L of diet beverage per day or an inactive placebo. After the 2 week period, participants ingested glucose (a simple sugar) and were assessed on how their bodies absorbed glucose, the amount of glucose in the blood, as well as the levels of insulin and gut peptides.

Despite showing similar absorption patterns in response to glucose between the two groups at the start of the study, after 2 weeks of supplementation, the group supplemented with artificial sweeteners demonstrated the following when compared to placebo:

  • 20% increase in glucose absorption
  • 24% increase of plasma glucose
  • 34% decreased production of the hormone, GLP-1. GLP-1 supports blood sugar control by stimulating the release of insulin, blocking the production of glucagon, and slowing down the absorption of blood sugar in the body.

These findings highlight, “the potential for these responses in habitual consumers of artificial sweeteners and support the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the body’s control of blood sugar levels, exaggerating post-meal glucose levels, which could predispose them to developing type 2 diabetes.”


Integrative Medicine for the Prevention of Diabetes and Heart Disease

At Infinity Health Centre, our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. James Yoon, often works closely with our Medical Physicians to aid in the management of patients suffering from diabetes or heart disease.  With a combination of improved diet and lifestyle recommendations, combined with and nutritional supplementation and herbal medicines, blood sugar levels can be effectively stabilized.  Even those taking regular pharmaceutical medications can be effectively treated and make significant improvements, in some cases, even reduce or discontinue their medications (with proper medical supervision).

To book an appointment with Dr. James Yoon, please contact the clinic, or simply request an appointment on-line.

*FREE 10min consults also available to meet with Dr. Yoon to learn more about how Naturopathic Medicine can you help you.



European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2016 Annual Meeting. September 14, 2017, Lisbon, Portugal. Abstract 193.!resources/impact-of-artificial-sweeteners-on-glycaemic-control-in-healthy-humans