Artificial Sweeteners: What is the Truth?

Types of artificial sweetenersArtificial sweeteners are man-made sugar substitutes developed chemically in a lab or occasionally altered sugars. These sweeteners are often many times sweeter than the sugar they are intended to replace.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved five of these artificial sweeteners including saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. This in no way means that these man-made sugar substitutes are “safe”. They may be lower in calories than sugar, but they are more likely to cause addiction and a long list of adverse health effects.

Most Common Artificial Sweeteners

If you are concerned with health and the potential adverse effects of sweeteners, it is important to be able to recognize these many sweeteners on the labels of your favorite pre-packaged and processed foods. The degree of danger varies by their source and the chemical structure, but check the labels of your food carefully for the following:

  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Alitame
  • Cyclamate
  • Dulcin
  • Equal
  • Glucin
  • Kaltame
  • Mogrosides
  • Neotame
  • NutraSweet
  • Nutrinova
  • Phenylalanine
  • Saccharin
  • Splenda
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucralose
  • Sweet ‘N Low
  • Xylitol

Hidden Artificial Sweeteners

Manufacturers also hide these sweeteners in medications and beverages. Here are several examples of “hidden” artificial sweeteners:

  • Toothpastes and mouthwashes
  • Chewable multivitamins
  • Cough syrups and liquid medicines
  • Candy and Chewing gum, including nicotine gums
  • Zero calorie waters and beverages
  • Processed (deli) meats and cheeses.

Why Artificial Sweeteners May Be Bad for Your Health

  1. Increased Appetite – Recent research conducted at Yale suggests that artificial sweeteners increase participant’s appetites, many felt hungrier after consuming aspartame. Your body associates sweetness with energy-producing calories. When it doesn’t get the calories it was expecting from the zero-calorie sweeteners, your body may try to overcompensate for those missing calories by eating more.
  2. Increased Sweet Tooth – Artificial sweeteners Sugar substitutes are as much as 600 times sweeter than sugar. But the artificial sweeteners do not stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain in the same way eating sugar does. Suggesting that eating artificial sweeteners does not truly satisfy your body’s sugar craving, which may eventually result in craving MORE sugar. The sweeteners may also dull your perception of other naturally sweet foods.
  3. Weight Gain – You are generally using sugar substitutes to lose weight, but there is a link between consuming artificially sweetened snacks, foods and beverages and long-term weight gain. People who drink artificially sweetened beverages and “sugar-free” snacks and foods consume more of those foods and beverages at each meal. Combine that with an increased appetite and increased sweet tooth and you can see the potential for overeating.
  4. Glucose Intolerance – Artificial sweeteners, especially saccharin and aspartame have been shown to significantly affect healthy gut bacteria and often lead to glucose intolerance and decreased insulin sensitivity, which places many people at risk for type 2 diabetes.

 

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