The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners

Unless you’ve been stranded on a deserted island, by now you have heard how eating too much sugar, especially “added sugar’ such as you find in candy, cakes, cookies, and most breakfast cereals to name a few, negatively impacts our health. When reading labels at the grocery store you will be hard pressed to find many foods without it in one form or another.

 

And while all this sweet stuff tastes great, it can drive your blood sugar and insulin through the roof and set you up for a whole host of health problems.

 

Enter Artificial Sweeteners.

 

In response to the ever-increasing market for lower calorie foods, manufacturers turned to artificial sweeteners. So, now,  by choosing diet soda instead of regular, you can save hundreds of calories and avoid all those health consequences including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity that come from high sugar intake.

 

Great in theory, but in reality?…not so much.

 

Types of Artificial Sweeteners:

 

Sugar substitutes can be categorized in several ways but what they all share is the ability to add lots of sweetness with fewer calories than regular sugar.

 

And the ‘artificial sweeteners’ we are focusing on today are the synthetic chemicals that taste super sweet.

 

( picture credit; SONY DSC)

 

 

These include:

 

  • Acesulfame Potassium ( Sweet One)

 

  • Aspartame ( Nutra-sweet and Equal)

 

  • Saccharin ( Sweet and Low)

 

  • Sucralose ( Splenda)

 

 

How artificial sweeteners impact our health:

 

Magazines and newspapers cite study after study showing the negative health effects of artificial sweeteners, yet other reports show none. Do artificial sweeteners cause cancer? Maybe, maybe not; heart disease? Perhaps… And since much of the research has used animals their findings may or may not translate to humans.

 

But the paradox is this;

 

One study showed that those who regularly drink diet soda have twice the risk of gaining weight as people who don’t. ( wait, what??)

 

And other research shows an increased risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome in individuals who drink diet drinks daily.

 

And though artificial sweeteners certainly wouldn’t affect everyone the same way, it’s had to miss the irony here.

 

Another question that has yet to be answered definitively is how artificial sweeteners affect our bodies. And so far no one knows for sure and some folks will obviously react differently than others, so only time will tell.

 

  • Do people feel like they can eat deserts because they ‘saved’ by choosing diet soda?
  • Right now we know sweeteners can change the way we perceive taste making fruit just not sweet enough and vegetables…. Well;..Yuck!!
  • Do artificial sweeteners make us crave even more sweets?
  • Some experts believe that when we consume these sweeteners our body mistakenly releases insulin to lower our blood sugar, but since there is not actually sugar there, our blood sugar drops low enough that we experience cravings for sugar to balance this out.
  • More and more studies show sugar can be as addictive as cocaine by impacting the reward center of the brain.

 

Wrapping  up:

 

Obviously added sugar impacts our health in many ways, but to replace it with artificial sweeteners comes with its own set of problems.

 

Health Professionals recommend reducing your sugar intake, by degrees,  if needed,  Try having slightly less sugar in your morning coffee or tea. Cut the amount of sugar called for in recipes by 25%. This way, you’re decreasing your consumption of added sugar without replacing it with these controversial chemicals.

 

Your body will thank you!

References:

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030

https://authoritynutrition.com/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar-insulin/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-splenda-is-it-safe

https://chriskresser.com/the-unbiased-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners/

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