Sucralose linked to glucose intolerance


Since Sucralose is the primary sweetener in Soylent, I don’t think this bodes well for it’s inclusion in the official formula. It might be time to consider an alternative. What about Stevia or even Xylitol?

Suggestion: A version without Sucralose

No proof that those don’t do the exact same thing, they just weren’t among those tested this time. There’s been indications for years that anything sweet-tasting without enough calories to back it up will cause glucose intolerance, no matter the sweetener. People should avoid anything that’s sweetened but zero- or very low-calorie. Whether it’s an issue to use sweeteners with food that does have significant calories is undetermined.

Basically, sweetness drives a response that makes the body expect a high GI food to be on its way. If it doesn’t show up, the system gets confused. After enough times, it stops listening to the warning, which means that if something high-GI does show up, it doesn’t handle it well.

Or at least, that’s been the hypothesis, they’re still working out the mechanism of action, as that study shows. Needs more research.


Actually, this study was specifically looking at the changes in gut bacteria caused by the sucralose, which is undigested and so gets through the whole system, affecting the gut flora. This study also suggests the effect can be reversed by killing the gut bacteria (with antibiotics) and restarting the system.

That said… it’s one study. I’m sure there will be more research. Switching before there’s enough information to justify it probably won’t help anything - we could just as easily be switching to something even worse.


the fact that the researchers gave the FDA’s maximal acceptable daily intake of saccharin to the human participants — about 5 mg / kg body weight per day — isn’t ideal. In a real-life setting, that dose would be the equivalent to a 150-pound person consuming 42 12-ounce sodas per day, or 8.5 packets of pink Sweet 'n Low per day. “That may be ‘acceptable’ according to some set of guidelines,” Gardner wrote in an email, “but it should be noted that realistically this is a very high dose they are using and one that wouldn’t be consumed by a typical consumer.”

Zero-calorie sweeteners may trigger blood sugar risk by screwing with gut bacteria


I still hope that eventually sweetener packs will be separate, to allow us to add our choice of sweetener. I’m a honey and cane sugar kind of guy.


Actually, I’d say this particular study is very good because it specifically points to the mechanism of action. Although we don’t yet know why this altered mix of gut bacteria causes glucose intolerance, it is clear that the it is definitely caused by the altered mix of bacteria. When they transferred that mix of bacteria to mice which were not taking the saccharin water, they transferred the glucose intolerance… and in mice that did take saccharin water and got glucose intolerance, they cured them by using antibiotics to kill all their gut bacteria and “reset” the system.

But you raise an important point: the problem may be related to the fact that the mouth tastes sweetness, and the body prepares for calories (causing chemical changes in the get, which affect the bacteria), and then the calories do not come. In this case, the mice were drinking calorie-free water with saccharin.

This probably transfers well to the example of a person drinking diet drinks between meals. But it may not work the same way when consuming an artificially sweetened meal, like Soylent - because it’s not calorie-free, at all. In fact, it’s got quite a lot of simple calories in it from natural sugar in the oats, and from the ample glucose in the maltodextrin.

If that’s true, then it may be perfectly safe to drink artificially sweetened drinks with meals, but not safe to drink them between meals.

On the other hand, this mechansim may be all wrong. It may have nothing to do with the sweetness we taste. It may just have to do with these sweeteners affecting the bacteria, themselves. If that’s true, then it doesn’t matter whether we have the diet drinks with meals, or not.

Bear in mind there’s still a large body of research evidence showing that the calorie reductions from replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners does lead to weight loss, not weight gain - so it’s not really true to say that artificial sweeteners make you fat - but if you become glucose intolerant because of them, it becomes easier to gain weight later. It’s fortunate the effect is so easily reversible - and it probably goes away over time if you stop consuming the artificial sweeteners and your gut bacteria gradually rebalance.

It’s worth noting that they found the effect with sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame, but that the effect was strongest with saccharin, which is why they did this study with saccharin. I’d love to hear if the effect is stronger or weaker with xylitol and stevia - I use stevia in my coffee and tea, so I consume a fair amount of it.


Actually, I think sugar is the solution, for Soylent. I suspect they’re trying to avoid sugar because so many people are programmed to think sugar, as an ingredient, is an inherently bad thing. But it’s just a carb that happens to be sweet.

They could add sugar, reduce the maltodextrin to compensate the calories, and remove the artificial sweetener. Nutritionally, it will be the same, you’ll avoid the sweetener problem… but you pick up a new marketing problem.


It quite possibly is. IF the macro ratios are properly balanced and the the fiber remains high the glycemic load will be quite low still.


I’ve generally been a proponent of artificial sweeteners, but this new paper (out today), in the world’s most prestigious journal challenges the notion that they are innocuous.


Actually, this paper focuses on saccharine, not aspartame. They found the same effect with aspartame and sucralose, but it was strongest with saccharine, so that’s what they did the study on. Here are some more lay-press write-ups with details, for those who don’t have access to the journal Nature:


Also, there’s another thread here about this paper:


OMG, sugar is so bad! So I’ll opt for something worse!

The masses can be so retarded.


I think this bears repeating. Nobody except the most die-hard of the (diet) coke addicts are going to be drinking this much. For comparison, Soylent’s content as of the 1/2014 blog post is 60mg per day, which is not even remotely close to 5mg/kg of body weight.

Megadoses of chemicals may have adverse effects on the human body? Stop the presses!

I wonder why they chose to go with such an absurdly high dose?


Actually, the GI for maltodextrin is higher than sugar. So replacing some maltodextrin with sugar will lower the glycemic load. (One maltodextrin is typically two glucose molecules.)


Because they need enough to generate a measurable effect. This is preliminary research trying to identify mechanisms, not later-stage research of a confirmed effect trying to discriminate the levels at which it matters in normal diets.

That being said, 8.5 packets of Sweet 'n Low isn’t “absurdly high” in my opinion. I can see a couple of coffees, a couple of teas, and a couple of soft drinks, and one or two foods with saccharin, and some people can hit that level in day.

When I read research and think “absurdly high,” it’s more like the comparison to resveratrol in red wine. To get the amount of resveratrol they used in some of the research to get a strong effect, you’d need to drink 1025 glasses of red wine per day. (Equivalent dose of 500 mg/day for a person, based on red wine containing 90 micrograms per fluid ounce.)


Pretty sure they use a maltodextrin with a lower GI


Doesn’t make a difference.

The two popularly cited figures are that the GI of maltodextrins ranges from 85-105, or ranges from 105-136, depending on the source of the information. I’m not finding anything I consider a good original source, so I’ll withhold making any conclusions on that, but it doesn’t matter… because the GI of table sugar is only 65.

So no matter which maltodextrin they use, sugar will be a lower GI.

(The GI of pure glucose is 100, and table sugar is half glucose, half fructose.)


Maltodextrin is also used to ‘thicken’ products. So i think they are using it for that too in soylent along with its sweetening qualities.


Some maltodextrins are mildly sweet; others are not sweet at all. They are using a non-sweet maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin is the first ingredient listed on the label, so it’s the main ingredient - there’s more of it than protein or oat flour (the next two ingredients.) With that much of it, if it were sweet at all, there would be no need to add the sucralose.

It’s also in there because it dissolves well and provides a good drinking texture, but it’s primarily in there as a clean source of carbohydrates.


Soylent seemed like a good idea for handling me pre-diabetes until this.
I would much prefer that they let us sweeten our soylent in any way we like. While reducing the amount of sucralose in the 1.1 version is good, I think it would be better if they just completely took it out.