Artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed foods, sodas, sports drinks, and diet soda. However, they have been linked to weight gain and various health concerns when consumed in excess quantity or for too long a period. Here’s the low down on artificial sweeteners, including what they do (or don’t) do for your body.
Please stop using artificial sweeteners right now if you haven’t already! Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, have been contentious since their introduction to the market in the 1950s, and scientific research has linked them to several hazardous adverse effects.
Introduced to fulfill customers’ sweet appetites, these calorie-free artificial sweeteners seemed to be a decent alternative to refined sugars and natural sweeteners and well-suited to low-carb diets (some Paleo, Atkins, and keto diet plans still employ these artificial sweeteners). On the other hand, the negative side effects are just not worth it. These artificial sweeteners produce a variety of symptoms, including headaches and migraines, weight gain, and even more severe illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Many individuals are unaware that artificial sweeteners may also lead to a deadly addiction – a need for extremely sweet meals. They reprogram the taste receptors to want sweeter and sweeter things as time goes on. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, renal damage, and a slew of other problems result as a result.
What role does the usage of artificial sweeteners have in the development of addiction? Part of the rationale, according to researchers, is that people will just choose other meals to cover the calorie deficit to feel satisfied. We’ve all seen folks purchase diet drinks before ordering one of the menu’s most calorie-dense items. This is because non-nutritive sweeteners bring little enjoyment.
What makes a nutritive sweetener different from a non-nutritive sweetener? Caloric value. Non-nutritive sweeteners have no calories or are almost calorie-free, while nutritive sweeteners have none. When trying to reduce weight, no-calorie sweeteners may seem like a smart idea, but they aren’t. Their negative consequences exceed any possible advantages of a low-calorie sweetener, and they are associated with weight increase rather than weight reduction. In addition, artificial sweeteners may raise BMI, weight, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a 2017 randomized study, albeit additional research is required to be definitive.
While FDA studies have “ruled out cancer risk” for non-nutritive sweeteners, all of the research undertaken was based on far lesser dosages than the 24 ounces per day average of diet soda, according to Holly Strawbridge, former editor of Harvard Health. With 30-ounce, 40-ounce, and even 50-ounce fountain drinks continuing to get out of control; it’s important to remember that these servings haven’t been reviewed for their safety.
Furthermore, another research on the impact of artificial sweeteners on atherosclerosis discovered that daily use of beverages containing artificial sweeteners increases the risk of metabolic syndrome by 35% and type 2 diabetes by 67%. Atherosclerosis is when plaque builds up within arteries, causing strokes, heart attacks, and even death.
There is also evidence that artificial sweeteners are linked to the development of glucose intolerance and other metabolic disorders that result in higher blood glucose levels than usual. In addition, frequent ingestion of sweet-tasting, non-caloric meals interferes with metabolic function, according to research published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Sucralose (commonly known as Splenda) and maltodextrin, both artificial sugars, increase gastrointestinal inflammation in mice with Crohn’s-like disorders, according to a 2018 research published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. In addition, in mice with a Chrohn’s-like condition, the artificial sweetener increases the quantity of Proteobacteria – a microbe bacteria related to E. coli, Salmonella, and Legionellales.
In addition, artificial sugar increased the activity of myeloperoxidase (a white blood cell enzyme) in those who had a kind of inflammatory bowel illness. This research suggests that tracking Proteobacteria and myeloperoxidase in patients might be useful for adjusting their diet and monitoring their illness and gut health.
Most Popular Artificial Sweeteners
Here are some of the most popular (and potentially harmful) artificial sweeteners available today. They have the potential to be quite harmful to your health. To begin, it’s critical to be able to spot artificial sweeteners on pre-packaged and processed food labels. Look for the following on all ingredient labels.
- Potassium acesulfame
- Low ‘N Sweet
Dangerous Artificial Sweeteners
The prevalence of harmful artificial sweeteners in prepared meals, pharmaceuticals, and drinks astounds many people. Here are a few surprising places to look for the above-mentioned hazardous sweeteners.
- Mouthwash and toothpaste
- Vitamins for kids that can be chewed
- Cough medicine and liquid medications
- Chewing Gum
- Waters and drinks with no calories
- Beverages containing alcohol
- Dressings for salads
- Desserts made with frozen yogurt and other frozen desserts
- Finished baked goodies
- Cereals for breakfast
- Snack items that have been processed
- Fruit juices and drinks that are “lite” or “diet.”
- Meats that have been prepared
- Nicotine chewing gum
This isn’t a comprehensive list. Please check the labels on the goods you buy carefully to ensure you don’t eat these harmful substances.
The Worst 5
Please stay away from the artificial sweeteners listed below. Instead, there are several natural and healthy sweeteners on the market that are both nutritious and delicious.
Diet Pepsi, Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi, and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi marketed in the United States will be reformulated, according to PepsiCo Inc. Due to dwindling sales, aspartame will be phased out of the recipe and replaced with sucralose and Ace-K. “Removing aspartame is the No. 1 issue for Diet Pepsi customers,” says Senior Vice President Seth Kaufman. We’re paying attention to what customers have to say. It’s what they’re looking for.”
This does not make artificially sweetened diet drinks any safer. Sucralose and Ace-K both have serious side effects; Pepsi is changing the recipe, not for its customers’ health (they’re keeping Diet Mountain Dew the same) but because they’re aware of the hazards of aspartame.
Unfortunately, the general public is unaware of the hazards of sucralose and Ace-K, and PepsiCo thinks that by changing the composition, sales would grow. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing; aspartame, sucralose, and Ace-K are all harmful to your health.
Aspartame was authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration about 35 years ago. It’s found in over 6,000 consumer goods and beverages and over 500 prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. But, it hides in unexpected places! Because aspartame is heat-stable, it’s most often seen in non-heated beverages and meals.
“A re-evaluation of the existing posture of the international regulatory authorities must be regarded as an urgent problem of public health,” according to recent research published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. The study’s conclusion that aspartame has carcinogenic consequences led to this recommendation.
According to one research, Aspartame may impair cognition and raise oxidative stress in the brain. Furthermore, avoid this harmful artificial sweetener at all costs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. According to recent research, women who ingest artificial sweeteners during pregnancy or nursing should be concerned. Aspartame, in particular, seems to have the potential to predispose newborns to metabolic syndrome diseases and obesity later in life.
Headaches, migraines, mood problems, dizziness, and mania are all common aspartame adverse effects. These chemicals, which include phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol, may linger in the liver, kidneys, and brain for a long period.
Sucralose, which is made from sugar, was first used as a natural sugar alternative. It is, nevertheless, a chlorinated sucrose derivative in actuality. Yes, chlorine is one of the world’s most dangerous compounds! Sucralose was discovered accidentally while developing a new pesticide component and wasn’t meant to be taken.
Sucralose, often known as Splenda, is 600 times sweeter than sugar, so it’s simple to understand how it may lead to sugar addiction. Splenda was put in the “warning” category by the Center for Science in the Public Interest in June 2014, awaiting a review of medical research that suggested it might be connected to leukemia in mice.
Cooking with sucralose at high temperatures may produce harmful chloropropanols, according to research published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. In addition, sucralose has been shown in human and animal research to affect glucose, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide 1 levels. Last but not least, it’s not physiologically inert, which means it may be metabolized and cause harm to the body.
3. Acesulfame K
Acesulfame K is a potassium salt with methylene chloride that may be found in sugar-free chewing gum, alcoholic drinks, sweets, and even sweetened yogurts. In addition, it’s often used with aspartame and other non-caloric sweeteners.
Even though long-term exposure to methylene chloride, a primary chemical component, has been found to induce nausea, mood disorders, perhaps certain forms of cancer, poor liver and kidney function, vision impairments, and maybe even autism, ACE K has received the least amount of scientific attention.
It’s becoming more used as a “flavor enhancer” in addition to sweetening dishes. Heat-stable ACE K may be found in various highly processed meals and baked products. Unfortunately, the human body can’t break it down, and it’s thought to have a detrimental impact on metabolism.
Saccharin and other sulfa-based sweeteners were thought to induce bladder cancer in the 1970s; therefore, they had to be labeled with the following warning: “Use of this product may be dangerous to your health.” Saccharin, which has been shown to cause cancer in experimental animals, is included in this product.”
Despite the FDA withdrawing the warning, several research continue to connect saccharin to major health problems. Unfortunately, it’s the main sweetener in children’s drugs like chewable aspirin, cough syrup, and other OTC and prescription treatments. In addition, saccharin is thought to cause photosensitivity, nausea, digestive distress, tachycardia, and cancer in certain people.
Sugar alcohols are poorly absorbed by the body and may produce allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to them. Bloating, gas, cramps, and diarrhea are just a few of the gastrointestinal adverse effects. However, it has such a strong laxative effect that it’s included in the chemical composition of several over-the-counter laxatives.
Even though artificial sweeteners have been on the market for decades, pregnant or nursing women should choose a natural sweetener instead. “Not enough is known regarding the usage of xylitol during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” according to WebMD. So to be on the safe side, avoid using.”
Dog owners should be aware that sugar alcohol-based artificial sweeteners are a life-threatening poison. So when your dogs are around, be cautious of breath mints, sweets, sugar-free gum, frozen desserts, and other delicacies.
Substitutes That Aren’t So Bad
So, if you have a sugar craving, what are your options? All-natural sweeteners are healthy alternatives, including maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia, fruit purees, and raw honey. Keep stevia packets on hand, so you don’t have to rely on artificial sweeteners in restaurants and cafés.
Begin to retrain your palate to appreciate foods’ inherent sweetness rather than added sweets. Try adding a sour, tart, warm, and savory tastes to delight your palate. Vanilla, chocolate, licorice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, for example, improve the taste of meals, requiring less sweetness.
Try homemade infused waters like my Watermelon Agua Fresca when you’re craving something sweet. It’s a light, sparkling, and refreshing drink that’s high in nutrients and sweetened with natural ingredients. To add a twist, sweeten your iced tea with honey, coconut sugar, or even maple syrup.
Try my Peppermint Patties, sweetened with honey and packed with all the health benefits of coconut oil, for a delicious (and healthy) treat. Experiment with different meals, healthy sweeteners, and taste enhancers to keep you pleased.
The obesity crisis in America is worsening, and it’s happening simultaneously as non-nutritive artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and sugar alcohols are becoming more widely used.
Artificial sweeteners, according to research, do not satisfy you in the same way that genuine meals do. Instead, you’ll feel less fulfilled and be more prone to overeating and drinking, resulting in weight gain and the risk of harmful side effects from artificial sweeteners.
While I feel that everyone should avoid artificial sweeteners, it is especially vital for children and women who are pregnant or nursing to avoid them. The stakes are just too high.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best natural sweeteners?
A: Stevia, a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of plants in South America. It has zero calories and is completely safe for use by pregnant women or those with diabetes because it does not affect blood sugar levels at all.
What is the safest artificial sweetener?
A: Splenda is a very safe artificial sweetener. Its made up of sucralose and maltodextrin, which are both natural ingredients that have been proven to be safe for human consumption by the FDA.
What sweetener should you avoid?
A: The main ingredient that you should avoid is aspartame. This particular sweetener has been shown to cause headaches and various bodily reactions for some people.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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