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The Truth On Artificial Sweeteners

More often than not you will come across someone who has decided that the quickest way to improve their diet is to go away from sugary treats including sodas, juices, and candy. The problem is they haven’t exactly changed their taste buds, and they still crave sweets. Their answer undoubtedly comes in the form of artificial sweeteners. Diet sodas, sugar free juices and sugar free candy typically all utilize some form of calorie free man-made sweetener to make sure that their products are consumable. The problem arises in the fact that while there is no caloric effect from their use, some studies are showing that these little additives can lead to some big adverse effects.

So what are artificial sweeteners and what are they in? Some of the common types of artificial sweeteners are Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin and Sucrose to name a few. Several of your favorite sweetening products are nothing more than these simple, rebranded, sweeteners.  Sweet ‘N Low for example is simply saccharin while Splenda is sucralose. Aspartame is probably the most commonly used sweetener in diet sodas, which are marketed heavily to those trying to lose weight, and even athletes, as better alternatives. So in reality these little additives are all around us.

But why is that a bad thing? There are a myriad of problems that have been associated with regular intake of artificial sweeteners. Headaches, dizziness, stomach problems and other side effects have all been noted, but the most concerning may be recent studies that report there may be a strong correlation between sweetener use and a hindrance in our ability to process real sugars. This is certainly alarming to think as there is a chance that this could lead to an increase in Type 2 diabetes, which is already rising drastically in the U.S. as it is.  Add this to the fact that many researchers believe that because artificial sweeteners cannot create the same chemical reaction as sugar, we are left actually craving more sweets than before we ingested the sweetener. We see a potentially vicious cycle.

While many studies are still being done and the results of use are, at best, going to be varied, reducing the amount of artificial sweeteners in our food in general is probably the best play for long-term health.  Using a small amount of sugar, honey or cream in your coffee, while it will add some calories, will at least leave you with the peace of mind that what you ingested is probably a safe choice. Even with the introduction of products like stevia, which is made from a plant source, the research is still out on whether to trust or utilize it as a safe calorie-free substitute.  Remember when you’re looking at the food in front of you, natural is always best.