Last updated September 25, 2018 by Lisa Richards, CNC   Reviewed by Dr Eric Wood, ND.

Artificial Sweeteners And Candida

Chemical formula of Aspartame: an artificial sweetener

What do artificial sweeteners mean for your wellbeing? It is astounding how many people still think they are choosing a ‘healthier’ option when they reach for Equal, Splenda, Saccharin, or Nutrasweet. While these sweeteners may not contain any sugar, they contain plenty of other things that should be equally worrisome for any health-conscious individual.

Today we are going to discuss why artificial sweeteners are also particularly counter-productive for those trying to overcome a Candida overgrowth. In fact, they may actually worsen Candida problems and at the same time cause a myriad of other related health problems.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Raise Your Blood Sugar

Contrary to what many people think, artificial sweeteners can dramatically increase your blood sugar, just like eating real sugar can. A study in 2014, which looked at the effect of these sweeteners on both mice and humans, found that they raised blood sugar more than sugar-sweetened sodas and desserts.

How does this happen? The evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners like aspartame actually change the composition of your gut flora. The mechanism of how this happens isn’t completely clear at this point, but this change somehow translates into higher blood glucose. And of course, more sugar equals more food for a Candida overgrowth, which is why I recommend the low sugar diet found in our treatment plan.

There is another complication related to higher blood sugar. This also puts stress on the body’s insulin and cortisol systems, contributing to endocrine dysregulation. An overstressed and malfunctioning endocrine system is associated with increased risks for weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and more. These conditions, in turn, put even more stress on your internal systems and organs.

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Artificial Sweeteners Affect Your Gut Health, Too

Research has illustrated that artificial sweeteners can damage the intestinal lining of the gut. This can lead to what we call increased intestinal permeability (or ‘leaky gut’), which is associated with heightened food sensitivities. As you probably already know, a well-established Candida infestation also plays a role in leaky gut. Artificial sweeteners can compound this problem.

As mentioned earlier, the consumption of sweeteners like Sucralose changes the composition of your gut flora. This has important implications for the health of your digestive system. The probiotic bacteria in your gut flora help to transform food into nutrients, facilitate detoxification, protect against opportunistic pathogens like Candida, and much more!

Do Artificial Sweeteners Even Stop Us From Eating Sugar?

Research has also suggested that these faux sugar substitutes may actually make us crave the real thing even more. The problem is that these hyper-sweet additives desensitize us to real sugar. In other words, artificial sweeteners can create a sweet tooth that you end up satisfying by eating … sugar!

Not surprisingly, this means that artificial sweeteners can actually lead to weight gain, not weight loss. Several large studies (for example here and here) have shown exactly this.

Other Reasons To Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Diet drinks can also contribute to a host of other negative potential health issues. Research suggests the following can be linked to artificial sweetener consumption:

  • Slowed metabolic rate and subsequent weight gain
  • Brain fog (likely from the increased intestinal permeability)
  • Increased appetite, especially for sugary carbohydrates
  • Increased risks for certain types of cancers and autoimmune conditions

What Can You Use Instead?

Is there anything really good to say about artificial sweeteners? Well, at least people are looking to reduce their sugar consumption, even if they are perhaps choosing the wrong way to do it. The problem is that people aren’t reaching for healthy, viable alternatives.

On the bright side though, there are some healthier options for those still wanting something sweet. Instead of Equal, Sweet n’low, Splenda, etc., consider reaching for organic stevia or organic erythritol instead.

Even better, cut back on your use of all sweeteners. Long-term sugar use may have desensitized your taste buds to sweet flavors. Once you start to lose your sweet tooth, you will start to notice sweetness in many places where you never recognized it before.

Remember, when we tinker with ‘real’ foods and make them something artificial and not naturally found in nature, it seldom turns out to be a healthful, good option for us. These artificial sweeteners are a perfect example of that.

Instead of reaching for a chemical sweetener, choose something real and pronounceable and do yourself and your body a favor. It will help to stabilize your blood sugar and possibly avoid gut imbalances like Candida overgrowth.

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  1. Irene says:

    What are you thoughts on Truvia?

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      I just looked at the ingredients. Stevia and erythritol are OK, but what are ‘natural flavors’? I know that manufacturers can include all kinds of stuff under that name..

  2. Ashley says:

    Just make sure it is NON-GMO Stevia.

  3. Marysé says:

    What about the xylitol?

  4. I started using Natur’VIA which is the best natural stevia on earth.

  5. Erin says:

    I’ve recently picked up the Republic of Teas Super Herb teas to drink while on my Candida diet. They look like they are ok to drink, but I have a question. The dandelion tea has natural vanilla and natural flavoring in it. I did a Google search, and found out that flavor is aren’t comprised of sugars… So I’m wondering, are these teas ok to drink, or no? I don’t want to unknowingly derail my diet.

    Thank you,

    1. Lisa Richards says:

      I haven’t seen those myself, but they sound OK! One thing to be careful of though is ‘natural flavoring’. Food manufacturers use that label to add all kinds of junk to food, and some of it can be surprisingly nasty.

  6. Tracy says:

    May I ask what you think of Xylitol and Monk fruit sugar?

  7. Clare says:

    I know that pure vanilla is an obvious first choice for a variety of reasons, but it is almost impossible to come by in the North where I live, and when we do find it it is horrendously expensive. I was hoping you could provide input on whether using small amounts of artificial vanilla will be detrimental to the Candida diet?

    1. Lisa Richards, CNC says:

      Hi Clare, I don’t think that artificial vanilla would cause any issues.

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