Tuesday July 17, 2018

Espedilla: Is there a relation between artificial sweeteners and diabetes?

DEAR Dr. Fritz,

Good day to you and the thousands out there who are following your column. I am Justo Husto. I am quite puzzled because a friend of mine told me that she had read a report that artificial sweeteners can cause diabetes. But artificial sweeteners had been encouraged because they don’t have much calories that we fear in obesity and in diabetes.

So what is really the truth behind all these? I am quite concerned because diabetes runs in the family and I am really trying to control weight by pushing with low calorie sweeteners.

I hope you can give me some answers. Thank you and may God bless you and your wonderful work.

Justo Husto of Camiguin


Dear Justo Husto of Camiguin,

I can understand your plight. It’s quite confusing to be somewhat in the middle of things.

Let me lay down to you a new research which may help explain the reported link between the use of artificial sweeteners and diabetes. This was the research done in Yale University School of Medicine. The researchers there claimed that the nature of the intensity of sweetness reflects the amount of energy present. That means, when a food or drink is really sweet, the more calories are present in that drink.

But, that was yesterday. Today is quite different because at this point in time, we have already gotten to the point where we can fool the body’s metabolism when a beverage is either too sweet or not sweet enough for the amount of calories it really contains. This means that the drink now can be sweet tasting, yet it is low in calories. The problem is, if this happens, this will trigger a greater metabolic response than a drink with higher calories.

The drawback is the misconception that the more calories we take, this will trigger more metabolic and brain response. This is wrong. Calories are only half of the formula. The other half goes to the perception of sweet taste. This is as culled from the researchers in that said study.

Now, when a mismatch occurs, your brain’s reward circuits don’t register those calories that have been consumed. Remember that our bodies are evolved to use the energy sources efficiently available in nature. The setback is our modern food environment is characterized by energy sources which our bodies have never seen before. That is why the said study claimed that this may help explain the link between some artificial sweeteners and diabetes.

But, I believe the topic is still largely debatable. We need to see more studies about this issue in the future to really clinch the truth behind the matter. As of now, just focus on foods that are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates naturally.

Good luck!

Dr. Fritz

(Dr. Fritz Legarde Espedilla is an aesthetic dermatologist and surgeon and a clinical sexologist. She is also trained in hypnotherapy and Medical Acupuncture. She has been in the broadcast media for more than a decade and has written a book based on her 15 year stint with her radio program, “Healthy is Sexy Secrets ni Dr. Fritz.” She is also a faculty in a College of Pharmacy. For your questions, you may send them to Dear Dr. Fritz, c/o Sunstar-Davao Publishing Inc., Ebro-Pelayo Building, Jacinto St., Davao City, (former Department of Foreign Affairs office), across Ateneo de Davao University and beside Holy Child School of Davao, or you e-mail them to If you don’t wish your letter to be published, we regret that we cannot answer them. Thank you for your understanding.)