A reader called hummingbird asks:
i've just been researching whey low today and i came across an old article from you from 2005. it was interesting but obviously dated. i was/am very curious to know if you still feel the same way today as you did back then. in 2005 you didn't like whey low. what do you think today?
To refresh my memory I went to the Whey Low website and read the nutrition labels for Whey Low and Whey Low D, the blend they market for diabetics. I have to say, I am still unimpressed.
Original Whey Low's ingredients are listed as "Sucrose, fructose, lactose monohydrate." This translates as "Sugar, sugar, sugar." Sucrose is the common table sugar we're all familiar with. I trust you're clear that table sugar is not your friend?
Then there's fructose. The term "fruit sugar" makes a lot of people feel all warm and fuzzy about fructose. The feeling is not deserved. It is often claimed that fructose has a very low glycemic index, and some studies do show that, but a 1989 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that fructose given alone raised blood sugar nearly as much as glucose.
In rat and mouse studies, feeding fructose induces obesity, not exactly the result we're after. Too, a 2004 article in Obesity Research stated "Fructose is associated with increased adiposity." Remember that the current obesity epidemic has paralleled the increasing use of high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, in place of sucrose. Since there has been a simultaneous increase in the total consumption of soft drinks, this is not proof positive that the fructose is uniquely fattening, but it's not encouraging.
(I have long hypothesized that our evolutionary programming is to deposit fat in response to fructose. Since fruit would have been virtually the only source of sugar in the diet during the millennia of hunting and gathering, and fruit would have only been available in season, this would have been a natural mechanism triggering fat storage in the summer and autumn, to provide fuel through the lean winter months.)
Just as worrisome, fructose appears to jack up triglyceride levels like nothing else -- a 2000 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that feeding men fructose resulted in triglyceride levels 32% higher than feeding high-GI glucose. (Oddly, more than one study has found that fructose raises triglycerides less in women than in men.) And a 2007 study in the same journal found that fructose was associated with small, dense particles of LDL cholesterol, the LDL particles most associated with heart disease.
Fructose is also suspected to cause fatty liver, and decrease insulin sensitivity in the liver. It's even associated with an increased incidence of gout! Yikes.
Lactose does seem to be more benign than most sugars, except, of course, for folks who are lactose intolerant. It is, however, still a concentrated sugar.
Whey Low is all carbohydrate, and refined, nutritionally devoid carbohydrate at that. VivaLac, who produces it, claims that somehow the various sugars in the stuff interfere with absorption of one another, so that much of Whey Low is not absorbed. I'd have to see research from someone other than the company profiting from the stuff before I'd be convinced. How are we to know? Since the formula for glycemic load is glycemic index x number of grams of carbohydrate eaten, anything made with a hefty dose of Whey Low has to be assumed to have a pretty high glycemic load.
I am willing to believe that Whey Low has a modest glycemic index, since in some studies fructose has also demonstrated a low glycemic index. That doesn't change the potentially dangerous effects of high doses of fructose. Nor, of course, does it make Whey Low anything but nutritionally empty.
I'm afraid I'm still of the opinion that the best bet is to cut way, way back on sweet stuff in general. I find it alarming that the testimonials at the Whey Low site rave about how people can have sweet tea, lemonade, fudge frosting, cookies, etc, etc, etc, again.
For my modest sweetening needs I'll continue using Splenda and stevia/FOS blend, and occasionally a touch of polyols.