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World Diabetes Day: Sour Truth About Artificial Sweeteners, Sugar-Free, But At What Cost?

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If you have not stopped using artificial sweeteners, please do so immediately!
Artificial sweeteners, or non-nutritive sweeteners as they are sometimes referred to, have been debatable since they were first introduced to the market, and scientific research shows they are associated with many dangerous side effects.
Introduced to satisfy consumer’s sweet tooth, these artificial sweeteners with no calories seemed, at the time, like good options to refined sugars and natural sweeteners. However, the side effects simply are not worth it. These fake sweeteners cause symptoms that range from migraines and headaches to weight gain and even more serious conditions like heart disease.
What many people don’t understand is that artificial sweeteners also can cause a dangerous addiction — a dependency on overly sweet foods. They reinforce the taste buds to need more and more, sweeter and sweeter foods. This leads to even greater chances of obesity, kidney damage, type 2 diabetes, and so much more.

How does the use of artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners contribute to addiction?

Researchers believe that one of the cause is that individuals will just find other foods to fill the calorie gap in order to feel full. We have all seen people order diet sodas, only to then order one of the most calorie-deficit items on a menu. That’s because artificial sweeteners provide virtually no sense of satisfaction.

The difference between a non-nutritive sweetener and a nutritive sweetener?

Caloric content. Nutritive sweeteners have calories while non-nutritive sweeteners have zero calories or are almost calorie-free. No calorie sweeteners may sound like a great idea when you look to lose weight, but they are not. Their side effects are far more significant than the potential benefits of a low-calorie sweetener, and they are actually linked with weight gain, not weight loss. There is an additional affirmation that links artificial sweeteners to the development of glucose intolerance and other metabolic conditions that result in higher than normal blood glucose levels. Also, frequent consumption of sweet-tasting, non-caloric foods interferes with metabolic function.

5 Worst Artificial Sweeteners

Please avoid these artificial sweeteners. There are abundant natural, healthy sweeteners available that provide essential nutrients and taste great.

  1. Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste Blue, Sugar-Free Gold )
  2. Sucralose (Splenda, Sugar-free Natura)
  3. Acesulfame K (Equal, Spoonful, Sweet One, ACE K, Sunette, Sweet ‘n Safe)
  4. Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sugar Twin, Sugar-free)
  5. Xylitol, Sorbitol (Xylo Sweet, Sorbitol Syrup)

Aspartame

It’s currently used in more than 6000 consumer foods and drinks, and over 500 prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Because aspartame is not heated stable, it’s typically found in drinks and foods that haven’t been heated.

Common Side Effects
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Mood Disorders
  • Dizziness

Sucralose

While derived from sugar, sucralose is actually a chlorinated sucrose derivative. It was originally found through the development of a new insecticide compound and was not originally intended to be consumed. At 600 times sweeter than sugar, it’s easy to see how the use of sucralose, or Splenda, can contribute to an addiction to overly sweet foods and drinks.

Common Side Effects
  • May alter insulin, glucose, and glucagon-like peptide 1 levels
  • Splenda uses mixed bulking agents that carry more calories
  • Research shows that Splenda could also be linked to causing leukemia
  • Cooking with sucralose at high temperatures can generate a class of toxic compounds.

Acesulfame K

Comprised of a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride, Acesulfame K is routinely found in sugar-free chewing gum, alcoholic beverages, candies, and even sweetened yogurts.

Common Side Effects
  • The human body cannot break it down easily and it is believed to have a negative effect on metabolism.
  • Nausea
  • Mood Problems
  • Some types of cancer
  • Impaired liver and kidney function
  • Problems with eyesight
  • May also be linked to autism

Saccharin

Earlier it was believed that saccharin and other sulfa-based sweeteners might cause bladder cancer, and it was required to carry a warning label. Sadly, it is a primary sweetener for children’s medications including chewable aspirin, cough syrup, and other over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

Common Side Effects
  • Photosensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Digestive Problems
  • Tachycardia
  • Some types of cancer

Xylitol, Sorbitol

Sugar alcohols are not absorbed well by the body and cause an allergic reaction for those who have a sensitivity to it.

Common Side Effects
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: bloating, gas, cramping, and diarrhea

Surprising Products that contain Dangerous Artificial Sweeteners

People are often surprised at how often dangerous artificial sweeteners are found in prepared foods, medications, and beverages. Here are a few surprising products of where to check for the sweeteners mentioned above.

  1. Toothpaste and mouthwash
  2. Children’s chewable vitamins
  3. Cough syrup and liquid medicines
  4. Chewing gum
  5. No-calorie waters and drinks
  6. Alcoholic beverages
  7. Salad dressings
  8. Frozen yogurt and other frozen desserts
  9. Candies
  10. Baked goods
  11. Yogurt
  12. Breakfast cereals
  13. Processed snack foods
  14. “Lite” or diet fruit juices and beverages
  15. Prepared Meats
  16. Nicotine gum

This isn’t a comprehensive list. Please carefully read the labels of the foods you buy to ensure you don’t consume these dangerous chemicals.

Healthy Natural Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives

Artificial sweeteners have been a topic for debate for years in regard to their damaging side effects. While all of these artificial sweeteners are technically “safe,” according to the FDA, they are coming under increased scrutiny because of their side effects. Refined sugars aren’t healthy either. Side effects of refined sugars include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay, certain types of cancer and even poor cognitive functioning.
So what is a good and healthy natural sweetener? Fortunately, there are many natural sweeteners that are healthy and tasty alternatives to refined sugar, and artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners. Research shows that substituting healthy sweeteners can also increase your antioxidant intake.

Top Natural Sweeteners & How to Use Them

  1. Raw honey (1 tablespoon = 64 calories)
  2. Stevia (0 calories)
  3. Dates (1 Medjool Date = 66 calories)
  4. Coconut sugar (1 tablespoon = 45 calories)
  5. Maple syrup (1 tablespoon = 52 calories)
  6. Blackstrap molasses (1 tablespoon = 47 calories)
  7. Balsamic glaze (Depending on thickness, 1 tablespoon = 20–40 calories)
  8. Banana puree (1 cup = 200 calories)
  9. Brown rice syrup (1 tablespoon = 55 calories)
  10. Real fruit jam (varies depending on the fruit)
  11. Monk fruit (0 calories)

Keep packets of stevia with you so you don’t have to resort to artificial sweeteners provided by cafes and restaurants.
Start working to reinforce your palette to enjoy the natural sweetness of foods, no added sweeteners. Try adding flavors like tangy, tart, warm and savory to satisfy your palette. When you crave for a sweet drink, try homemade infused waters. Start sweetening your smoothies with honey, coconut sugar or even maple syrup for a twist.
Be creative and experiment with new foods, healthy sweeteners and added flavors that keep you pleased.
Research shows that artificial sweeteners don’t keep you full the way real foods do. Instead, you end up feeling less pleased and more susceptible to eating and drinking more, resulting in weight gain, in addition to potentially suffering dangerous side effects related to artificial sweeteners.

Bottomline

While I truly believe that everyone should refrain from using artificial sweeteners, it is particularly important for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to stop using these sweeteners. The risk is simply too great.

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