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From an optimal health / longevity stance, I'm curious which sweeteners might work best.


There's honey, which contains a fair amount of free fructose and is basically pure sugar + some minor antioxidants (although, my diet is generally packed with antioxidants.)


There's coconut sugar / dark brown sugar / maple syrup, which are fairly similar to honey (or high-fructose corn syrup), but a bit more processed.


Then, there's date sugar and molasses, which seem fairly similar to honey, but contain much more in the way of antioxidants and micronutrients.


And finally, there's the more interesting sweeteners like Stevia, Monk Fruit, Xylitol, Erythritol, and others ("Just Like Sugar", Trehalose, etc.)


For a while, I was fairly anti-sugar / anti-fructose in an attempt to maintain very low levels of small dense LDL, very low levels of triglycerides, and support metabolic health / insulin sensitivity, although lately I'm coming around to a higher intake of fructose+sucrose from fruits along with a higher intake of glucose+starches as I'm finding ways to attenuate their effects on blood sugar.  I don't usually buy into zero calorie sweeteners, but I've been experimenting a bit with sugar alcohols / stevia and they seem to work fine for my purposes as well.




Research into the interaction between diet and the insulin/IGF-1 pathway has shown sugar intake to be negatively correlated with DAF-16 activity and longevity. One study found that glucose ingestion reduced the rate of dauer formation and shortened the life-spans of DAF-2 knock-downs to resemble that of normal C. elegans, suggesting that DAF-16 mediated gene expression associated with longevity is suppressed by glucose ingestion Wild type C. elegans fed a diet that included 2% glucose showed reduced Daf-16 activity and lifespan was shortened by 20% compared to worms fed on glucose-free media. These findings raise the possibility that a low-sugar diet might have beneficial effects on life span in higher organisms.




Kenyon's research prompted her to make personal dietary changes. She stopped eating high glycemic index carbohydrates when she discovered that putting sugar on the worms' food shortened their lifespans.
Kenyon follows a low glycemic index diet similar to the Atkins diet and the South Beach Diet.
No desserts. No sweets. No potatoes. No rice. No bread. No pasta. When I say ‘no,’ I mean ‘no, or not much,’ she notes. Instead, eat green vegetables. Eat the fruits that aren't the sweet fruits, like melon. Bananas? Bananas are a little sweet. Meat? Meat, yes, of course. Avocados. All vegetables. Nuts. Fish. Chicken. That's what I eat. Cheese. Eggs. And one glass of red wine a day.
But the diet is unproven, she cautions, and she's not recommending it for all. Nevertheless, she's pleased with its performance for her. 'I have a fabulous blood profile. My triglyceride level is only 30.


Am I better off sticking to sugar-based sweeteners (like honey?), or including some mix of sugar alcohols (xylitol or erythritol?), or including some stevia, for my health / longevity goals?

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I've gone back and forth on this question as well over the years - namely whether to avoid sweeteners entirely or include near-zero calorie sweeteners in my diet. I'm currently using all three of the sweeteners you mention, xylitol, erythritol and stevia (home-grown during the summer). I avoid sugar-based sweeteners like honey as (mostly) empty calories and likely to elevate serum glucose more than I'd like.



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This was an interesting article:



"Gram for gram, antioxidants in buckwheat honey equals those of fruits and vegetables."  With antioxidant levels reaching 4.32×10−3 meq., honey rivals those levels found in tomatoes (2.83×10−3 meq.)


I found this chart on erythritol ("Truvia") in d. melanogaster:



Reading about stevia, it sounds like there are potential mutagenic effects:



Xylitol, I'm hesitant to use, as I have a dog and I've read it's quite toxic there (via hypoglycemic action.)  


Sucralose, I avoid, as it has harmful effects on gut bacteria (and I contain more cells of gut bacteria than I do of human cells.)



"Some of the biological effects of sucralose described include: reduction in the number and balance of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, histopathological findings in gastrointestinal tract including lymphocytic infiltrates into epithelium, epithelial scarring, mild depletion of goblet cells and glandular disorganization in the colon, and mutagenic alterations using several types of biological assays."


Lately, I'm getting some carbohydrates from white rice, which might be arguably emptier in calories and more likely to elevate serum glucose, although I don't seem to be seeing much of a glucose-raising effect while consuming several times more carbohydrates from high-GI rice than I would with lower-GI honey, causing me to somewhat rethink my stance on sugary sweeteners.  I was actually seeing higher post-prandial glucose numbers when eating fewer carbohydrates and more low-GI vegetables.  I tend to feel like the nutrient-density of a diet is worth optimizing, but it's not necessary to optimize the nutrient-density of each individual food / spice in the diet, once the diet is sufficiently nutrient-dense.  I suppose macro-nutrients are nutrients themselves. While consuming some white rice and fruits, I'm still reaching ketone levels of between 0.4 and 0.6mmol/L of beta-hydroxybutyrate in the afternoons.


Hmmmm.  I suppose I will likely do the same to hedge my bets and keep a mix of stevia, sugar alcohols, and sugar-rich sweeteners (honey where I can consume it raw / molasses / dates).

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Hi Sirtuin and Dean!


I can see no advantage to consuming sucrose, fructose or glucose, or other empty calorie .  Similarly for honey, bread, potatoes, etc.  It's also the reason that I avoid most fruits.


I use only "zero calorie" sweeteners.  I find the taste of Stevia (or of stevioside, which is slightly better -- stevioside is the sweet molecule in Stevia) objectionable; I prefer no sweetener at all.


(I also avoid sacharine, which I think tastes worse than stevia.)  


There is one natural "zero calorie" sweetener that I do like -- monk fruit juice.  This is now used as the sweetener in most Walden Farms dressings, which are now advertised as being "all natural".  These Walden Farms dressings are now delicious -- my favorite, Italian sun-dried tomatoes.  I'm sure that you'll see these new, all-natural, Walden Farms dressings at CR IX in May.



My day-to-day sweetener is Neotame; a little pure Neotame (purchased from Warren) goes great with the 60oz. pot of Chinese white tea that I brew every morning to have with my breakfast of 2 lbs of celery.


I also keep "Splenda minis" in my left rear pants pockets -- I use them to sweeten coffee at work (my wife doesn't allow coffee at home -- she still thinks it's unhealthy).


Also, I have a large wheel of sucralose that I purchased directly from Tate and Lyle several years ago; and two smaller "free sample" containers of the same from the same source.  These are marked "Kosher for Passover"; so I use these (instead of Neotame) on Passover.  (The little containers of sucralose go a long way; so far, I have am still working on the first one of the two; I haven't had to refill from the large wheel yet.)


  -- Saul

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