If you've been using artificial sweeteners to lose weight or to lower sugar intake, read this before you open another one of those brightly colored packets.
Before I tell you why you need to stay away from them, let me clarify what I mean when I say “artificial sweetener.”
Artificial sweetener – What is it?
Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes, that are sweet to taste. They have no or few calories when compared to regular white sugar (you should avoid that too!)
They are many times sweeter than your table sugar and as a result, you end up using less of it. This means no or low calorie recipes and products which may seem attractive but I'll come back to how calorie counting can backfire in a minute.
A couple of points to show just HOW attractive these little pink packets are:
♦ An estimated 8 out of 10 in the United States consume some sort of artificial sweetener.
♦ In the last year, a whopping 2225 sugar free and reduced sugar foods hit the food market.
Artificial Sweeteners are Everywhere
The most common foods include:
- flavored yogurts
- sports drinks
- fruit juices
- packaged desserts and many more
Unfortunately, they are not safe. Although marketed as safe, there is enough evidence that they harm your body in many ways.
One of the trickier brands I get a lot of questions about is Truvia. And yes, I will use some raw green leaf stevia sometimes but Truvia is not the same. It's loaded with chemicals so read those labels closely.
3 Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners
1. Promotes obesity
The link between artificial sweeteners and obesity is direct. Evidence from 2 studies links drinking artificially sweetened beverages to obesity.
A study on diet soda drinkers and non-drinkers showed a clear difference. Those that drank diet soda (contains artificial sweetener) had TRIPLE the abdominal fat.
This data was from 749 people, aged 65+, observed over a period of 9 years. Non-diet soda drinkers did have abdomen fat, but it was not as high as in the other group.
Another study that observed 3000 pregnant women and their babies found a strong link as well.
Mothers that drank diet soda drinks were TWICE as likely to have overweight babies. These infants were overweight or obese at the first year of their birth.
2. Alters metabolic pathways
Research suggests that artificial sweeteners alter the metabolic activity of your body.
There are 2 ways it does this:
- by changing your gut bacteria and
- by messing with your glucose tolerance level.
Both cases lead to increase in body weight and obesity.
Changes in gut bacteria:
A 12 week lab study showed adverse effects with artificial sweetener (splenda). The study found the following:
- Steep drop in beneficial gut bacteria
- Increased acidity in the intestine
- Poor absorption of certain drugs used in certain treatments like chemotherapy, heart disease, etc.
Poor glucose tolerance:
One of the effects of changes in the gut is poor glucose tolerance. Glucose intolerance is an umbrella term for metabolic condition. This causes high blood sugar levels.
In this condition, the body isn't able to use insulin to carry glucose into cells for energy. This causes insulin resistance, a typical condition for type 2 diabetes.
One study linked artificial sweetener containing drinks to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.Tweet
3. They are chemicals. Plain and simple.
Perhaps the simplest reason of all. These sweeteners are loaded with chemicals. Most things on the label I can't pronounce. All artificial sweeteners are born in the laboratory, they are chemicals that taste sweet.
So, what is my say on artificial sweeteners?
Will I be willing to put it in my body?..NO!!
If you've been following me for a while, you know I don't count calories. I mention this because many will wonder why the natural sweeteners that I use and recommend are higher in calories than those colorful packets.
Artificial sweeteners are a perfect example of why counting calories doesn't pay off. Trading calories for chemicals is not a good plan.
So, What DO I recommend for sweeteners?
My favorites are:
- coconut sugar
- 100% maple syrup
- raw honey.
They're less processed too!
Also, to sweeten your drinks use spices like:
With so much controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners, we're better off not using them.
Yours in Health,
P.S. Please share this with your friends and I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Have you kicked artificial sweeteners yet?