The Lowdown on Artificial Sweeteners
- With the exception of occasional, modest use in diabetics, I do not use nor do I recommend artificial sweeteners. Even though they will not elevate blood glucose or fructose levels like “real” sweeteners, they may indeed have other untoward effects in the body.
- Although science supports their safety and lack of toxicity (exception saccharin and aspartame), I have concerns that they can work against us in our efforts to have a healthy weight and a healthy metabolism. First, there is little evidence to support their efficacy on the weight loss or weight control front. Second, growing evidence suggests they may lead to weight gain and other metabolic disturbances. There are a number of biologically plausible ways this could occur. Based on the available science, using artificial sweeteners in a no-calorie context (think diet sodas/beverages) is likely the highest risk for this potential effect. One recent 10-year study found a 500% increase in belly fat accumulation in those consuming 2 or more diet sodas a day!
- One thing we can say with certainty is that artificial sweeteners exploit our highly developed taste buds for sweet. All sugar substitutes are exquisitely sweet substances. Depending on which one you choose, anywhere from 40 to 600 times sweeter than table sugar. If you partake in them regularly, the bar for what tastes sweet to your palate will likely be set somewhere way up in the stratosphere! In this context, it is highly unlikely that fruit (nature’s dessert) will be able to satisfy your sweet tooth as it should. If you use artificial sweeteners regularly, chances are that berries, apples, bananas, oranges, etc. will never taste super sweet to your palate as they should!
- If you are diabetic or insist on using them (which I prefer you did not!), the sugar substitute I am most comfortable with is Stevia. Stevia is a plant with super sweet leaves and this sugar substitute is 100% natural.
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