Will Sugar Substitute Psychos Like Psicose?

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Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.01.30 PMGo ahead. Tell me you didn't already think of this image. Irony is a beautiful thing. But irony that causes multiple neurons to fire in people who have a tenuous grasp on reality is far better.

Artificial sweeteners have been accused of causing everything from cancer to autism to the Hindenburg disaster. "Crazy Joe" Mercola has referred to aspartame, perhaps the least toxic chemical you will ever find, as "By Far the Most Dangerous Substance Added to Most Foods Today."

An even more fundamental flaw in the artificial sweetener discussion is that the idea that chemicals which happen to be both "artificial" and "sweet" can be lumped together in any way. They cannot; this is scientifically impossible. The half-dozen sugar substitutes that are approved for use in the U.S. have nothing in common--except that they are sweet.

Enter allulose (aka psicose). It is a non-caloric sugar substitute that just happens to occur naturally, although in small quantities, in a few fruits. While this may be great propaganda for Whole Foods (all NATURAL!! blah blah blah) it is irrelevant. If it was found in the rings of Saturn it wouldn't matter.

But, allulose has a lot going for it, and some pretty cool properties. Unlike other naturally occurring, non-caloric sugars that are used as sweeteners (e.g., maltose), it does not make its was through the stomach and small intestine and end up in the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria, giving rise to an number of gastrointestinal problems that are unlikely to make you popular at a dinner party.

Rather, allulose is mostly absorbed in the small intestine, and, excreted unchanged in the urine. A small amount of it is excreted (also unchanged) in the feces. This is why it does not provide calories.

So, do we have the perfect sugar substitute (not that there is anything wrong with the others, except maybe aftertaste)? Maybe so. The science behind allulose is very clever. It is unique among non-absorbable sugars, and Tate & Lyle, the same company that invented Splenda (sucralose) has figured out how to make it in large quantities. (You cannot buy it yet.)

And maybe it will shut up Whole Foods. It is "natural," but you've probably never ingested any (or, if so, a very small amount ). But it is still technically an artificial sweetener. I can only imagine how much homeopathic headache "remedies" that the marketing people will need as they figure out how to market foods that contain the stuff.

My best guess: psicose is going to be a winner.