Sweeteners are very important for diabetics in the control of their BG levels. If there were no sweeteners around, type 1 diabetics would have to inject themselves far more often, because they would find it more difficult to avoid sugars. Many sweeteners are, in fact sweeter than sugar, but some research suggests that they may be carcinogenic.


    Xylitol is a very common sweetener, used in all sorts of sugar-free sweets, such as chewing gum. Xylitol is a different kind of sweetener to aspartame and saccharin. It is an alditol and is also often used in mint chocolates. It can't be in any other kind of chocolate because it has an endothermic heat of solution and therefore results in a cooling sensation in the mouth.




    Aspartame, a dipeptide ester, is another relatively well-known sweetener, but it has had some very bad press, especially in Nexus Magazine. According to an article in this magazine, aspartame is by far the most dangerous food additive on the market. Indeed, 75% of  adverse reactions to food additives reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could be accounted for by aspartame. Research into the adverse effects of aspartame shows that several chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened  by ingesting it. These include brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer's, birth defects and, ironically, diabetes! 





   Saccharin is another very common sweetener and is one of the oldest synthetic compounds still in commercial use. It was discovered by Ira Remsen in 1879, who tasted (!) it after synthesising it in his lab. This is how he found out that it was very sweet (300 times as sweet as sugar). It has proved to be incredibly useful for diabetics , but the possibility that it is carcinogenic was raised in the 1960s. In 1990, however, it was demonstrated that saccharin did not cause cancer directly, but in very high doses it accelerates cell division, which can increase the probability of mutated cells and tumours.