Last week’s article touched on the different types of artificial sweeteners that are meant to work as sugar substitutes. We also talked about some of the reasons it may be a good idea for diabetics to stay away from artificial sweeteners. Now, we will dive a little deeper into the problems these sugar substitutes could have on your health and the balance of the good bacteria in your gut.
The most popular study to make this claim happened in 2014. The study showed that mice who ate saccharin (a component of some artificial sweeteners) developed a glucose intolerance. The sweeteners created an imbalance in the gut bacteria of the mice. These bacteria are responsible for converting food to fuel or fat.
The team wanted to make sure this also applied to humans, so they continued the study on seven healthy people who consumed the maximum serving of saccharin suggested by the FDA for six days. Four of these individuals were on the road to glucose intolerance—a step towards a diabetic diagnosis.
The team concluded that this was only a preliminary study but did create grounds to explore this research further.
Let’s get into some quick and dirty biology to make sense of how the human gut works and how artificial sweeteners would be able to affect it.
All the bacteria that live in your gut play a role in your digestion. You’ve probably heard of protobiotic bacteria, which are helpful bacteria that salvage energy from fats (so that the fat isn’t stored), ferment carbs, and keep the digestive tract in working order. However, probiotic bacteria need to be balanced or else you can experience digestive problems. Artificial sweeteners may be one of the causes to this unbalance as they inhibit the breakdown of carbs into energy and instead store them as fat.
Physician and biologist Jeffrey Gordon tells us that 90% of our gut is made up of two types of bacteria—Bacteroidetes (which we will now refer to as bacteria B) and Firmicutes (which we will now refer to as bacteria F). Bacteria B is responsible for turning carbs into energy. One of his studies showed the obese mice don’t have the capability of producing leptin—a hormone that suppresses our appetite. This is because there is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut: there are more bacteria F then there are bacteria B. So carbs get stored as fat rather than energy and glucose intolerance occurs. Even when bacteria F was transferred to healthy mice, they started to store more fat due to the imbalance they were then experiencing.
But what does this relate to our human situation?
Gordon thinks a similar concept happens in obese people. Overweight individuals who lost weight through a low-fat or low-carb diet started to experience balance in their gut because the amount of bacteria B increased. This could mean the bacteria in our gut can extract calories and burn them off as energy, as well as shape our eating behaviour as more of the leptin hormone is produced and suppresses our appetite.
Additional studies make compelling arguments that artificial sweeteners may indirectly contribute to glucose intolerance by promoting appetite when consumed near meal times and creating a taste preference for sweeter foods compared to healthy foods.
There have been arguments made against the 2014 study with arguments saying it was only a prelimary trial on humans, the genetic makeup and environment is completely different in every individual human compared to lab mice, and that the effects of artificial sweeteners on the mice and human subjects were reversed with antibiotic treatment .
This puts diabetics in between a rock and another insulin shot. With all this conflicting research it can be hard to know exactly what is best for you, but we say trust your gut! If something is working for you, keep doing it, and if you’re having digestive or weight problems, consider changing your diet.
To practically take care of your gut, you may want to follow these ideas:
While Alberta’s summer yield may be running dry, it is harvest time for many delicious fruits and vegetables. It’s also the perfect time for an early fall favourite: Zucchini!
Also known as summer squash, this versatile veggie may come late in the season, but its comeback game is strong. Low in calories and loaded with vitamins and minerals, this valiant vegetable always squashes the competition.
Zucchini for the Win!
Zucchini is 95% water, making it naturally low in calories and an excellent choice if you’re watching your weight. One serving (½ cup) contains 0.7 grams of protein , 1.9 g carbs and 0.6 grams of fibre . That’s a steal of a deal when you consider it’s only 10 calories! And since zucchini is a low-glycemic food, it won’t cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar ( 2 ).
And that’s not all! Along with vitamin A , potassium and other important nutrients, zucchini also provides 15% (11 milligrams) of your daily vitamin C needs ( 1 ). Vitamin C is best known for boosting the body’s immune system, which is extra important with flu season right around the corner.
It’s health benefits don’t stop there! As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also helps squash free radicals in the body, which helps our bodies repair damage and fend off conditions like heart disease and cancer.
A favourite among Alberta’s gardeners, zucchini has a mellow flavour, soft edible skin and a creamy white flesh that makes it a delightful addition to any dish.
It can be sliced, diced or shredded and is delicious pan-fried, baked or raw. In addition to its tasty flesh, female zucchini plants also produce large yellow blossoms, which can be eaten raw or cooked.
Move over cuke, it’s time for the zuke! Here are some tasty ways to enjoy this fall favourite:
Okay, so let’s say you just brought in your garden harvest and have no idea what to do with those monster zucchinis. Try grating them up and adding them to baked goods like muffins, loaves or chocolate cake. It may sound like baking blasphemy, but they add an extra dose of nutrition, a moist texture and a surprisingly delicious flavour.
For a breakfast muffin brimming with flavour and nutrition, try the Breakfast Zucchini Muffins in the Pure Prairie Eating Plan .
1) Canadian Nutrient File (2015). Nutrient Profile: Squash, summer, zucchini, raw. Retrieved from: https://food-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/serving-portion.do?id=2225
2) University Health News Daily (2017). Glycemic Index Chart: GI Ratings for Hundreds of Foods. Retrieved from: https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/glycemic-index-chart/
Every good parent wants to take a bite out of their kids’ hunger by offering up a nice, hearty granola bar. They’re small, portable and easy to toss in a backpack or keep in your car for when you’re stuck in traffic. But just because the right bar is perfect for almost any occasion doesn’t mean any bar is perfect for you.
Many of these bite-sized snacks are packed with more sugar than a donut and are so low in fibre and protein they don’t stand a chance against your growling stomach.
So when faced with an ever-growing assortment of granola bars, how do you pick a smart snack over a chocolate bar in disguise?
University means a fresh start. You can put anything you want behind you, and instead look forward to who you want to become. Even if you aren’t moving away from home and you are entering your first year of university, many aspects of your life will still change.
It is important to remember that with the many changes university brings, your diabetes management may have to change too. A new living situation, new stressors, and new faces can cause your health to dip. But we have 3 tips to prepare you for living with diabetes in university.
Protein is a source of endless debate. Some bodybuilders say if you’re trying to bulk up, it should be the bulk of everything you eat. Others say the power of protein is overestimated. How did we get so mixed up about a few amino acids?
The fact is, it’s an essential nutrient that keeps your body functioning well by building and repairing muscle, hormones and enzymes, as well as your skin, nails and hair. But obviously there’s some confusion so I offer this to you: a protein primer.
One of the first projects funded by the Alberta Diabetes Foundation when it was founded in 1988 was the clinical research of Dr. Ray Rajotte, which it funded for 12 years. Dr. Rajotte pioneered the first-ever islet cell transplant, which was the biggest breakthrough in diabetes research since the discovery of insulin. That work, plus an expanded islet cell transplant team and the addition of anti-rejection protocol, ended up becoming the international standard of care for islet cell transplantation.
Since 2000, when the protocol was developed, Alberta Diabetes Foundation has invested in a capital campaign to build the world-class building that now houses the Alberta Diabetes Institute. Since then, the Foundation has endeavoured to continue to invest in world-class research for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes right here in Alberta.
Alberta Diabetes Foundation works in tandem with the best-in-class Alberta Diabetes Institute to allocate funding where and when it is needed most, ensuring that important diabetes research and projects do not become stalled. The Alberta Diabetes Foundation is able to fund projects, even at early stages, often filling in gaps left by traditional granting organizations. The researchers in Alberta are confident that a world without diabetes is possible and, today they are doing more than providing sustainable solutions to treating diabetes -- our researchers are on their way to a cure.
Imagine this. Recently you’ve noticed that your child hasn’t been acting quite like their usual self lately. You can’t quite pinpoint it, so you chalk it up to a rough week. But maybe that rough week turns into two. You start to think on their behaviour more and you grow more concerned; they are always asking for extra water or juice at breakfast, they seem to be constantly hungry, they’re rushing off to the bathroom more frequently, and they are tired as soon as they step in the door from school.
Although these symptoms may seem common for children who may not have had a good night’s rest or for those going through puberty, that’s not always the case. These symptoms should be taken seriously, and if you notice these in your child for a prolonged period of time, you should discuss a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test with your doctor. An A1C test will determine your child’s average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. If your child’s A1C level is 6.5 or over, if could mean that they have Type 1 diabetes.
As a parent, your child’s Type 1 diabetes diagnosis can be earth shattering for both you and your child. So many thoughts can go through a parent’s head; why does it have to be my child? How is my child going to live with this? How am I going to be able to give my child everything they need now that they have this condition?
Every parent and child will go through this journey in their own way, but it is important to know that Type 1 diabetes is a disease that can be managed, and proper management will allow your child to live a healthy life. As for the questions, you have as a parent, we would like to help by providing you with a few answers.
Why does my child have to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes? Where does Type 1 diabetes come from? What could wehave done as parents to prevent it?
Type 1 diabetes is not a preventable disease. It is a mixture of genes and environment. Although scientists do not know the exact cause of Type 1 diabetes , they do know that genes and environment play a role . They have figured out that individuals who have a certain type of HLA complex (human leukocyte antigen on chromosome 6) may be susceptible to Type 1 diabetes. This complex can create an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by a viral infection.
Simply put, when your body tries to fight the viral infection, it may also attack beta cells in your pancreas—cells that make insulin. This process usually takes several years before symptoms develop. The right combination of genes (HLA complex) and environment (exposure to a viral infection) can contribute to the onset of type 1 diabetes.
How is my child going to live with this condition?
Diabetes will be a day-to-day change in you and your child’s life. Your child will require insulin injections. You might even be required to administer insulin injections for your child depending on recommendations from the doctor. You will also want to revaluate the lifestyle that you and your child live. Focus primarily on the diet and exercise your child gets. And remember to stay on top of these few daily tasks you will need to complete:
Although it may not happen everyday, your child will go through highs and lows with their diabetes. Both diabetic highs and lows are serious and can be life threatening
Symptoms of a diabetic high and low are:
Symptoms of a diabetic low also include:
You and your child’s first encounter with can be frightening. If you prepare yourself to know that symptoms and you are able to react accordingly, you can make your child feel safer in the earlier stages of this condition.
How am I going to be able to provide everything my child with everything they need to take this condition on?
The biggest change a parent can have on their child’s life is setting a great example. Your child relies on you and looks up to you. As a parent you should eat healthy, exercise, and take on proper responsibility for your own health. Your own accountability will benefit your child in the short-term and long-term. Additional support from friends and family will also help your child manage emotional and physical effects of the diabetes diagnosis. You may also consider joining a diabetes support group or participating in a run to fund diabetes research.
Advice from the following people can help ease the stress of your child’s diabetes:
As a parent, the best thing you can do for your child is simply to be there for them. Communicate with your child in a way that is supportive and will help to boost their self-esteem. Allowing your child to be open and honest with you will make treating diabetes that much easier.
No parent wants to see their children suffer. Remember that diabetes was not something that your child was marked for, and it isn’t your fault as a parent. As a family, you can work through this disease together, and put your child down a path of success.