There’s a new alternative sweetener getting ready to hit the market, and it’s called allulose (also D-Psicose). Under the brand names of Dolcia Prima and AllSweet Low-Calorie Sugar, this sweetener claims to have 90 percent fewer calories than good old glucose, but is 70 percent as sweet and behaves like sugar in cooking and baking. It’s natural too, found in figs and raisins, although present in very scant quantities. Made from the starch of corn fructose that undergoes an enzyme conversion process, initial studies have shown that it passes through the system undigested and causes no digestive upset. Sounds great, right? There are a few reasons to be wary.
An important question: how will it affect your intestinal flora? Even if something doesn’t cause a direct blood sugar spike, that doesn’t mean that it won’t alter the growth of the bacteria in your gut. In fact, studies have shown that low-calorie sweeteners can directly result in glucose intolerance due to changes in gut flora. As a starch-based product that remains undigested in our bodies, allulose certainly has the potential to feed unwanted gut bacteria, meaning if you eat a lot of it, you may alter your microbiome for the worse. We are just beginning to grasp the true power our intestinal bacteria have over our wellbeing. They are responsible for our immune systems, our cravings, our weights, our ailments, our skin health and so much more. It’s important to keep your gut bacteria happy if you want to stay healthy.
Eating sweet things that lack calories can also trick the brain and lead to more intense cravings and increased hunger. In this way, going ‘diet’ could completely backfire and cause you to gain unwanted pounds. If that’s the case, you would be better off eating a small amount of sugary sweets — at least your body will know what to do with it and you would feel satisfied.
Allulose isn’t on the market yet, but when it is it will mainly be used in processed foods rather than direct-to-consumer sales. We’ll have to wait and see what this sweetener brings to the table, but be sure to make your own judgements. There is no miracle sweetener out there. Don’t blindly trust what the marketing tells you. In the meantime, try cutting back on regular sugar instead of substituting with highly processed stand-ins—you’ll be so much healthier for it.