Many people are looking for ways to reduce their sugar intake and enjoy healthier alternatives. However, not all sweeteners are created equal. In this article, we will compare two types of sweeteners: natural sweeteners with prebiotic dietary fiber and 0.1 calories per gram (when sweetness and amount are compared to sugar), and non-nutritive sweeteners with zero calories. We will examine their effects on blood sugar levels, gut health, weight management, and overall wellness.
A natural sweetener with prebiotic dietary fiber and 0.1 calories per gram is derived from plants and contains a soluble fiber called oligosaccharides. The human body does not digest oligosaccharides, but they serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut (Lee et al., 2019). These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that have anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-diabetic properties (Ríos-Covián et al., 2016). Moreover, oligosaccharides can lower the glycemic index of foods and beverages, meaning they do not cause spikes in blood sugar levels after consumption (Gibson et al., 2017).
Non-nutritive sweetener with zero calories is a synthetic compound that mimics the taste of sugar without providing any calories or nutrients. Some examples are aspartame, sucralose, and stevia. While these sweeteners may seem appealing to people who want to cut calories and lose weight, they may have some drawbacks. For instance, some studies have suggested that non-nutritive sweeteners may alter the gut microbiota and increase the risk of metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes (Suez et al., 2014; Pepino, 2015). Additionally, some people may experience adverse reactions to non-nutritive sweeteners, such as headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions (Sharma et al., 2016).
Based on the evidence, we can conclude that natural sweetener with prebiotic dietary fiber and 0.1 calories per gram is better than non-nutritive sweetener with zero calories for your health. Not only does it provide a pleasant sweetness without affecting your blood sugar levels, but it also supports your gut health and overall wellness by feeding the good bacteria in your gut. On the other hand, non-nutritive sweeteners with zero calories may have negative impacts on your metabolism and microbiome, as well as cause unwanted side effects. Therefore, we recommend choosing natural sweeteners with prebiotic dietary fiber and 0.1 calories per gram over non-nutritive sweeteners with zero calories for a healthier and happier life.
Gibson, G. R., Hutkins, R., Sanders, M. E., Prescott, S. L., Reimer, R. A., Salminen, S. J., … & Verbeke, K. (2017). Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 14(8), 491-502.
Lee, H., Ko, G., Lee, S., Lee, S., Kim, J., Shin, H., … & Kim, Y. (2019). Effects of daily low-dose date syrup consumption on glycemic control, lipid profile, and quality of life in patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled clinical trial. Nutrition research and practice, 13(1), 3-10.
Pepino, M. Y. (2015). Metabolic effects of non-nutritive sweeteners. Physiology & behavior, 152(Pt B), 450-455.
Ríos-Covián D., Ruas-Madiedo P., Margolles A., Gueimonde M., de los Reyes-Gavilán C.G., Salazar N. (2016). Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and their Link with Diet and Human Health. Frontiers in microbiology 7:185.
Sharma A., Amarnath S., Thulasimani M., Ramaswamy S. (2016). Artificial sweeteners as a sugar substitute: Are they really safe? Indian Journal of pharmacology 48(3):237-240.
Suez J., Korem T., Zeevi D., Zilberman-Schapira G., Thaiss C.A., Maza O., … & Elinav E. (2014). Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature 514(7521):181