Are you sweet enough?

Sugar can get a bad rap and is often wrongly connected to the development of diabetes and other health conditions. But if you've got a sweet tooth, you may find yourself turning to artificial sweeteners to help manage your weight and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners (sometimes called non-nutritive sweeteners) are often used in many of our favourite food products to replicate the sweet taste many of us love, without the kilojoules. Sounds perfect doesn't it? But research is beginning to show that artificial sweeteners may not be as sweet as we think.

In fact some research shows artificial sweeteners may not actually help you lose weight and a new, slightly controversial study, has suggested they may even increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. The study, published in the journal Nature, identified for the first time that artificial sweeteners may cause changes to the bacteria in our gut leading to increased blood glucose levels.  The study was conducted with mice and a very small number of humans so more research needs to be done until scientists can be sure about these findings.


In the meantime, self-confessed sweet tooth, dietitian Michelle Tong said foods like soft drinks or lollies, even if they have artificial sweeteners, fit into the extra's food category (foods that don't fit into the five food groups) which means they aren't everyday foods and are not essential to provide the nutrients the body needs.

"Instead try consuming plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy foods to get your sweet fix," she said.


Looking for healthy sweet dessert? Try this month's feature recipe grilled figs with ricotta.