Are Artificial Sweeteners ACTUALLY Better for You?
They just sit there looking healthy
Pretty yellow, pink and blue
But once you tear one open,
Is it really good for you?
No. How’s that for a straight forward answer? No equivocation, caveats, qualifications – just plain no. Non-caloric, artificial sweeteners now occupy close to 20% of the sweetener market (a 15 billion dollar business), with sugar itself making up the rest. But a case can be made to avoid them, or at least use the pretty packets with caution.
Their appeal is obvious – you get the sweetness we all look for without the calories. For dieters and obviously those with diabetes, it would seem to be a no-brainer. Most doctors and dietitians would agree.
But while most authorities recommend artificial sweeteners as a way of controlling calories, recent studies in the medical literature are starting to tell a different story. We really shouldn’t be surprised. Take the name itself, “artificial”. Doesn’t that tell you something? Are our bodies really up to the consumption of anything that’s artificial, a chemical? Really, how far away from “organic” can you go?
Please note that our consumption of non-caloric sweeteners in not limited to the packets. For example, one 12 oz. Diet Coke may contain more Aspartame than the amount found in 5 packets. Not a good thing!
So here’s what the science is starting to show us about non-caloric sweeteners (let’s call hem NCS for short):
- Taken during pregnancy, they can increase the risk of overweight children.
- In a large review of recent literature, there was no support for the use of NCS in weight management, while an increased risk for abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and coronary disease was found.
- NCS consumption alters the microbiome (the bacteria that are normally in our gut), increasing the absorption of sugars. This sets people up for the development of diabetes.
These observations simply scratch the surface of a wealth of research articles that demonstrate that NCS are not inert chemicals. They have profound metabolic effects that can predispose us to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In our efforts to “cut calories”, we may be doing more harm than good.
Irving T Gilson MD