Should I Use Artificial Sweeteners When I Have RA?

In general, most research believes that artificial sweeteners are not good alone unless they replace pure cane sugars from one’s diet. (Note: this does not apply if you are diabetic.) 


But human studies are difficult in nature because we are… well… human. We cheat, we have behaviors and feelings that often cannot be correlated with diet and studies are sometimes conducted by people who are biased. 


I get that you may want to use an artificial sweetener so I wanted to talk about them. 


Here are some artificial and no-calorie sweetener options:





  • Comes from a plant, the South American shrub
  • It’s the most “natural” option of the artificial sweeteners listed here
  • Tends to be sweeter than table sugar
  • Can be substituted in almost everything





  • Has the most studies and is found in most products
  • Too much of this artificial sweetener can cause stomach upset and diarrhea
  • You can’t cook with it (or I guess you could… just wouldn’t turn out great) 
  • No proof of carcinogen





  • Found in many products
  • You can cook with it, but changes consistency of food
  • No proof of carcinogen


Here are some natural and calorie sweetener options:


Pure Maple Syrup

  • Has the same amount of calories as sugar
  • Made from boiled tree sap
  • Can be used in cooking, but does alter the taste
  • Contains manganese and zinc



  • Comes from an agave plant that is similar to a cactus 
  • Can be used in cooking
  • The least “processed” option if you’re trying to reduce processed foods in your diet



  • Made by bees from the nectar of flowers
  • Sweet and thick which means you can usually use a small amount 
  • Can be used in cooking: reduce the amount of liquid and an extra pinch of baking soda


In summary, if you find that a certain sweetener causes your pain to worsen, increases your hunger, or you simply don’t feel well when consuming it, then STOP using it. 

Almost everything is okay in moderation.

 And remember: It’s okay to indulge occasionally! 

A fancy coffee or a candy bar once a month is usually not going to put your RA over the edge. 🙂 

Do you use an alternative sweetener? If so, which one is your go-to? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

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