Though sugar is extremely unhealthy, artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Saccharin and Sucralose are far worse than sugar for your health. Today, perhaps more than ever before, the immense damage sugar does to people’s health is finally receiving the warnings it merits.
Prominent health and nutrition studies are continually revealing the extent to which sugar wreaks havoc on not only weight loss and appearance goals, but even more frighteningly this research shows sugar’s damages to both short and long term health quality and overall well-being. And yet, while it is indeed critically important for people to know the harm caused by consuming sugar, it is equally essential for people to know there is an enemy even worse for health lurking beside the risk of sugar: artificial sweeteners.
Yes, though sugar is extremely unhealthy, the dangers sugar substitutes pose can be even greater than those of sugar for your health. The promise sounds sweet enough: eat all the sugary tasting goodness you want with none of the calories or consequences. The unfortunate reality is that synthetic sweeteners are bad for your health in significant ways.
A Questionable Past: Artificial Sweeteners
Of all the sugar substitutes on the market today, saccharin is the oldest. It was first created in 1879. At first saccharin was used primarily as a substitute for sugar when sugar was rationed during World War I and World War II; it was not considered to be superior to sugar, but rather as a substitute to aid in the war effort.
As the years went on though, consumers began to turn to saccharin in hopes of cutting calories to lose weight. It was not long after consumers began to use this artificial sweetener before serious questions about the safety of saccharin began to arise.
In the 1970s studies linked use of saccharin based artificial sweeteners such as Sweet n Low with reproductive cancers in lab rats. The great debate over the safety of saccharin continues today, with significant evidence pointing towards its use being risky.
The 1980s brought with it the introduction of aspartame under brand names such as Equal. The marketers behind aspartame made sure that their product was abundant in all sorts of diet foods on the market. Like in the case of saccharin, the dangers of aspartame are also noteworthy and alarming, with consumers siting aspartame’s side effects as everything from migraines to upset stomachs and more.
Sucralose, branded under names such as Splenda, is another synthetic sugar on the market. First hitting the store shelves in the late 1990s, sucralose carries with it many of the same risks and concerns as other artificial sweeteners. Additionally, critics site that sucralose’s relatively recent addition to the market means its safety is lacking a record of long term safety or full understanding of sucralose’s side effects.
So why are artificial sweeteners like Aspartame far worse than sugar?
Alarming Risks Associated with Consuming Artificial Sweeteners
With such a shaded past, it is both alarming and shocking to many people that these questionable products remain on store shelves as viable alternative to sugar, yet they do. While you may not be able to control artificial sweeteners being on the market, you can take power over you and your family’s exposure to their risks into your own hands by arming yourself with full knowledge about artificial sweeteners’ harmful effects.
Artificial Sweeteners Are Linked with Cancer
The undesirable side effects from using chemical sugar alternatives are great in number, but without question among the most disturbing of these effects is the questionable relationship between artificial sweeteners and cancer.
Over the years, numerous studies have linked the consumption of artificial sweeteners with an increased risk of various cancers in lab animals. For example, aspartame was found to have a link of lymphoma and leukemia incidence in rats. Saccharin was linked with bladder and urinary cancers in lab animals.
While critics point out that conclusive evidence has not been shown in humans, many people argue it is simply not a risk worth taking.
Artificial Sweeteners Increase Odds of Obesity
Artificial sweeteners’ effects on the body also includes increasing the odds of obesity in those who consume it.
Ironically and unfortunately, the very artificial sweeteners dieters turn to in hopes of losing weight has been shown to actually be increasing their odds of battling with weight gain and obesity. In fact, the rise of the obesity epidemic is directly correlated with the increased use of artificial sweeteners in the diet.
A variety of factors seem to contribute to this problem, but the end result is that people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners have been shown to have significantly higher risks of becoming obese.
Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cravings
Another unwanted and harmful effect linked with the use of synthetic sugars is that they have been shown to increase cravings for sugary foods. Because artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than sugar, the body begins to demand sweeter and sweeter tastes to meet its desire for a sugary taste.
Those apples, grapes or even bars of chocolate that once provided a sweet treat are no longer registered by the brain as providing adequate sweetness.
Further, because artificial sweeteners do not trigger the release of the same satiety reactions as natural sugars do, the body continues to crave more foods to meet its satisfaction levels. This increase in cravings is yet another reason that artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain time and again; derailing the weight loss goal of many dieters before the diet has even begun.
Artificial Sweeteners and Type II Diabetes Risk is Correlated
You have only to turn on the nightly news to know that the onset of Type II Diabetes is quickly reaching epidemic rates. Though excess sugar consumption is to blame in part for this rising epidemic, studies are showing artificial sweeteners also play a detrimental impact in more and more people developing Type II Diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners without aspartame as well as those with aspartame have been shown to have a negative effect on the metabolism. The use of artificial sweeteners has been shown to increase the risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome, a precursor to Type II Diabetes.
Additionally, a study done out of the Washington University School of Medicine has shown that animals given artificial sweeteners develop a glucose intolerance, another risk factor for Type II Diabetes.
Artificial Sweeteners Are Linked with a Wide Variety of Health Complaints. In addition to the aforementioned concerns, artificial sweeteners effects on the body includes a host of other healthy complaints. Synthetic sugar substitutes, including sweeteners with aspartame and those without, are among the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) most complained about ingredients. Common complaints include migraine headaches, diarrhea, lethargy, mental fogginess, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and mood changes including depression and anxiety.
Things to Remember about Artificial Sweeteners
With the substantial and scary evidence for why artificial sweeteners are than sugar for your health, you are likely wondering what the next step should be to eliminate these scary toxins from your diet. Thankfully, complete elimination of synthetic sweeteners is entirely possible. Read on for final reminders to keep in the forefront as you take victory over the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners.
Don’t Go Back to Sugar
Learning all the scary facts about artificial sweeteners may have you once again reaching for the sugar bowl, but remember that sugar is not the answer either. Instead, focus on re calibrating your taste buds to once again appreciate and be satiated by the natural sugars found in foods like fruit, berries, sweet potatoes, and others. The fiber, antioxidants, and water found in these foods make their sugars a smart way to get a sweet taste. A small amount of natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave can also be used in moderation, but should be used in the rawest and purest state possible.
Many people find it both encouraging and motivating to note the differences in their health they enjoy when cutting artificial sweeteners out of their diets. Take the time to note how you feel before removing sugar substitutes from your diet. Pay attention to everything from your energy levels, to your mood, to digestive patterns, to weight levels, and any other complaints, whether you believe them to be related or not.
As you detoxify your system, be sure to recognize all the improvements you see. Watching the numbers on the scale get lower, headaches diminish, and more will help keep you going if temptation strikes. Soon, artificial sweeteners will hold no appeal at all and you will be free of artificial sweeteners and their devastating effects.
Be On Guard
The last thing anyone wants to do is work hard to break free from the saccharin, sucralose, and/or aspartame habit only to have them sneak back in from unlikely sources. In addition to a product being labeled as a “diet” food or “sugar free,” be on guard for products featuring phrases such as “reduced sugar,” “low calorie,” or “no added sugar.”
While products with these labels do not automatically equate with the presence of artificial sweeteners they do often indicate their presence. Additionally, watch out for chewing gum as almost all gum contains artificial sweeteners.
Finally, some medicines, supplements, or lozenges rely on artificial sweeteners to give them their sweet taste. By standing guard against these sneaky sources of artificial sweeteners you will avoid accidentally experiencing their harmful effects.