We have all heard some scary facts about the intake of sugar and the risk for obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle related diseases. So many people turn to artificial sweeteners and diet foods in an attempt to make a healthy choice- but is it really healthier?
A quick google search for any of these artificial sweeteners will launch you into a war between experts on both sides. On one hand, these lab created artificial sweeteners are accused of causing everything from cancer and neurological disorders, to weight gain and depression. On the other hand, the FDA and other government agencies insist that they are safe. But one thing is certain, artificial sweeteners are controversial and have not been around that long.
Most Common Artificial Sweeteners
Saccharin (Sweet n Low)
Acesulfame K (Sunett)
Stevia (Truvia, PureVia, SweetLeaf)
My Top 4 Takeaways on Artificial Sweeteners
1. Most of the studies on artificial sweeteners were done on animals, which may or may not relate to the safety (or lack there of) of these compounds being digested in humans.
2. All of these products were discovered or created in the 1960s and 1970s, therefore knowing the effects of consuming these for your lifetime is impossible to know. They just haven’t been around that long.
3. Most of the “pro” studies have been funded by the companies themselves, so there is a conflict of interest in many cases.
4. They all have an established upper limit where they would be considered toxic (poisonous) to the human body. Yes, even stevia.
Stay away from them as much as possible, but don’t lose sleep if you have them occasionally. Artificial Sweeteners are used in many products like gum, yogurts, protein bars and powders, juices, sodas, dressings, etc.
Many of the negative symptoms like headaches, bloating, depression and weight gain are associated with frequent use of artificial sweeteners. If you are one to frequently drink diet sodas or sweeten your beverages, start to cut back or eliminate them from your daily routine.
Lastly, eat unprocessed foods like lean meat and fresh produce as much as possible and read the nutrition label of the products you buy so you are at least aware of what’s in there. (Read my article on reading nutrition labels)
Over years of working with clients, I have found that people are drawn towards artificial sweeteners because they think it’s a way to cheat the system and indulge without the consequences of sugar. If you are constantly looking for something sweet or craving a sugary drink like soda or a fancy coffee, try to get to the root of the problem instead of looking for the quick fix of an artificial sweetener.
Cravings for sugar are a pretty good sign that something is off in your diet, and you’re reaching for sugar to fix it. Sugar cravings increase when you aren’t eating enough protein, when you eat mostly processed food, when you are overly stressed, or when you are not getting enough sleep. Correct these problems and you will likely find that cutting back on sweets is no longer an issue.
The Harmful Effects of Splenda
The Dangers of Saccharin and Aspartame
Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Fool Your Brain
Sweetened Beverages and Depression Link
The Potential Danger of Sugar Substitutes
Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer
The Safety of Saccharin
Aspartame Facts and Myths
Battle of the Sweeteners
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