What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes which do not contain any calories or other nutrients. They have been used since the late 1970’s and they were first introduced into food industry in 1980. These products are made from sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup. Sucrose is obtained from sugar cane or sugar beet while HFCS is produced from corn starch. Both of these sugars are found naturally in fruits and vegetables but when processed they become highly caloric and unhealthy for human consumption due to their high glycemic index value.
The main reason why artificial sweeteners became popular is because they are cheaper than sugar. However, it turns out that artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain and obesity in humans. There is no scientific evidence proving that artificial sweeteners are safe for human consumption. Some studies suggest that they might even increase risk of diabetes and heart disease. Other research suggests that there is no link between consuming them and health risks.
Why Do People Use Them?
In the past, many people used to consume these artificial sweeteners in order to avoid calories. However, it has been revealed that this is not a good solution either. Even though artificial sweeteners do not contain any calories, they may disrupt important biological processes in the human body and brain.
Even though most studies do not show a link between drinking diet soda and developing health issues, there are some studies which suggest just the opposite. Many people who were interviewed claim that they started drinking diet soda in order to lose weight. It is also interesting to note that people who consume a lot of diet sodas also consume more calories during the day than people who do not use diet soda.
Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?
The main problem with artificial sweeteners is the fact that they confuse our metabolism when it comes to dealing with calories. Our bodies expect to receive a certain amount of calories from the foods that we eat and when this amount decreases, our bodies try to compensate for this calorie shortage by making us hungry. This is why people who consume diet drinks consume many more calories during the day than people who do not drink diet sodas.
It has also been shown in some studies that artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain because they confuse the body. It has been proven in some studies that diet soda may actually increase your appetite.
What Are The Risks?
There are many studies suggesting that long-term consumption of these artificial sweeteners may cause multiple health complications. Some researchers believe that aspartame may cause multiple sclerosis and lupus while other researches claim that it may trigger Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. Some people also report headaches and dizziness after drinking diet soda.
What About Natural Sweeteners?
There are many natural sweeteners such as honey, agave, coconut sugar and stevia which are definitely better options when compared to artificial sweeteners. While they still don’t make up for calories, they are metabolized in a much safer way by our bodies. It is always better to consume sugars which are found in nature rather than processed industrial chemicals which weren’t even around before the 20th century.
What About Sucralose?
When it comes to sucralose, it’s a bit of a different story. It’s been around the longest out of all artificial sweeteners and it has the most research done on it. While some of the studies done on it still haven’t shown any health risks, many other studies have shown that it may have side effects. These side effects are mostly related to the digestive system and they usually go away if you stop consuming sucralose.
Some people may claim that the amount of sucralose in diet drinks isn’t enough to cause any damage.
Even if this is true, why would you want to consume something that has evidence showing that it may cause some sort of damage when there are many other healthier drink options?
What Should I Do Instead?
Instead of drinking diet drinks, it’s better to simply make your own smoothies at home and add some fresh juice into them. Not only are fresh juices and smoothies better for you than diet drinks, they also help you in the long run with your weight loss goals. You can read more about making healthy smoothies here.
While diet drinks may contain less calories than regular soda, there are definitely better drink options that are available to us. Not only are there more healthy drink options such as fresh juices and smoothies, but the studies on artificial sweeteners simply aren’t conclusive enough for us to give them a clean bill of health. It’s best to stay away from them for now until further studies have been done.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Cancer, metabolism, fructose, artificial sweeteners, and going cold turkey on sugar by LC Cantley – BMC biology, 2014 – bmcbiol.biomedcentral.com
Effect of drinking soda sweetened with aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup on food intake and body weight by MG Tordoff, AM Alleva – The American journal of clinical nutrition, 1990 – academic.oup.com
Empty pleasures: The story of artificial sweeteners from saccharin to Splenda by CT De la Peña – 2010 – books.google.com
Artificial Versus Natural Sweeteners: All You Need to Know by M Fernandes – diabetes, 2018 – wellthy.care
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and artificial sweeteners (ASs) in surface and ground waters and their application as indication of wastewater … by YY Yang, JL Zhao, YS Liu, WR Liu, QQ Zhang… – Science of the Total …, 2018 – Elsevier