5 Reasons To Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Grocery shopping can be overwhelming with the endless number of products claiming to be “healthy.” Looking at nutritional labels may be deceiving especially when it comes to artificial sweeteners.
Synthetic sugar replacements found in foods labeled “low calorie,” “reduced-sugar,” “light,” “no sugar added,” “diet,” “low-fat,” and “sugar-free” may seem like healthier options but the reality is that they often have harmful effects in our body. Let’s debunk these misconceptions by sharing five reasons why you should be avoiding artificial sweeteners.
1. Weight Gain:
Artificial sweeteners are marketed to be a great sugar alternative for achieving weight loss, weight maintenance or diabetes management because they add no calories. However, studies show a correlation between obesity and weight gain in both children and adults who consume artificial sweeteners. The notion that artificial sweeteners contribute to weight loss makes sense in theory, however eating these substances actually tricks our body into thinking it needs more energy (calories) making us want to eat more.
2. Increased desire for sweeter foods:
When we consume artificial sweeteners, some of which are up to 8,000 times sweeter than table sugar, we actually crave MORE sugar and more of the sweet taste on our tongue. Rather than fulfilling a sugar craving by consuming zero calorie sweeteners, we continue to yearn for more sugary foods. So instead of kicking a sugar craving to the curbside, artificial sweeteners do the exact opposite. They make you crave more sugar.
3. Induces blood sugar disturbance potentially leading to chronic disease:
Since artificial sweeteners tend to increase appetite; weight gain and obesity-related diseases are commonly associated with consumption of artificial sweeteners. Here’s an explanation for this: When we consume artificial sweeteners, our body releases the hormone insulin in response to the sweet taste. Since artificial sweeteners don’t actually cause an increase in blood sugar, this insulin response causes the sugar in our bloodstream to be absorbed into our tissues leading to low blood sugars (hypoglycemia). This results in sending a signal to our brain that more calories are needed in order for our blood sugar level to return to normal levels. This not only results in unstable blood sugars, which is undesirable for optimal health, metabolism and well being, but could also lead to overeating furthermore leading to chronic obesity related diseases.
4. Decreased “good gut bacteria” and immune response:
Our body contains thousands of species of microorganisms that play numerous roles in maintaining optimal health. Our gut microbiota (or bacterial environment) contain beneficial bacteria that aid in the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients and are also key players in fighting off invaders to keep us healthy. Research shows that artificial sweeteners decrease the diversity of these good bacteria, thereby creating a bacterial imbalance in the body known as dysbiosis. This can result in poor digestion and reduced immune response. Our immune system can sense a decrease in microbe diversity, which could inflict an autoimmune response against our own body leading to inflammation, glucose intolerance and gastrointestinal discomfort. A healthy gut = a healthy you!
5. It’s not found in nature.
Need we say more?
Be an artificial sweetener detective! Look for these names of artificial sweeteners on ingredient lists and on packaged food items:
Artificial Sweetener Acesulfame Potassium, Aspartame, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose
Common Name Sweet One Equal, NutraSweet NutraSweet Sweet’ N Low Splenda
Foods that commonly have artificial sweeteners:
Diet soda and other diet drinks
Sugar-free pudding, jello & ice cream
Low-calorie sweetened yogurt
Sugar-free gum, candy and baked goods
Sugar-free, diet or low-sugar salad dressings, condiments and pickles
Protein shakes and bars
Foods labeled “diet”, “low calorie” or “low-carb”
Know the foods you’re nourishing your body with and pay close attention to how they make you feel inside and out. Choose wholesome foods that are in their most natural form and make sure to read the ingredients on packaged food items.
By avoiding artificial sweeteners, you can restore your body’s internal balance to ensure full functionality and optimal health. Using natural sweeteners such as honey, pure organic, non-gmo cane sugar, and pure maple syrup, in a portion-controlled manner is a better option for your health. Natural sugars like stevia and xylitol derived from birch bark are also healthier alternatives, without the spike in blood sugar.