Once again non-nutritive or “artificial” sweeteners are making the news. New evidence shows that there are negative biochemical changes in the body in response to these low-cal sugar replacers. 1
We already know that sugar has detrimental effects on our blood sugar, insulin and waistline. It is common knowledge nowdays that sweets consumption should be lowered and kept to a minimum. In came, subsequently, those nifty no-calorie sweeteners that promised a similar flavor without all the unhealthy side effects. While initially considered as safe and approved by the FDA, for some time now research has hinted they are not as benign as touted Now we have even more evidence that they are doing more harm than good.
In this new study, researchers took several groups of rats and either fed them diets high in glucose, fructose, or artificial sweeteners (aspartame or acesulfame potassium). Acesulfame is sold in stores at Sunnett or Sweet One, and aspartame is sold as Equal or NutraSweet. Both are currently approved artificial sweeteners by the FDA.
Within three weeks the researchers found discernable differences between the groups per blood samples collected. They noted that the artificial sweeteners appeared to change the way their bodies processed fat and energy overall. They also noted that the acesulfame potassium accumulated in the blood and had a negative impact on the cells lining the blood vessels.
Bottom line? Do not think that switching to artificial sweeteners is the answer. For one, how many thin people do you see walking around drinking diet sodas all day? They do not seem to work. This study helps us understand why. Also, continuing to drink sweet beverages hinders one's ability to acclimate to less sweetened beverages and foods. It keeps the sweet desire active, per say, and does not solve the problem of cravings. In fact it can make things worse by initiating an insulin response but, with no actual sugar entering the body, you end up with lower blood sugar and a “crash,” so to speak. The craving cycle continues.
The article ends by trying to answer the question, which is better? Sugar or artificial sweeteners? How about about? My advice is to ditch sweet-tasting beverages altogether and switch to good ol 'water, the way nature intended.
But you hate water you say? If that's you, think about some simple flavorings such as lemon, lime or other fruits soaked in your H20. Maybe dilute a favorite beverage half and half and keep increasing the water until you desire the sweet taste less and less. Drink club soda and lime if fizzy is your thing. There are ways to make better choices to keep these harmful chemicals out of your bodies for good.
In the end, if weight loss, blood sugar control and heart health are your goals, artificial sweeteners have to go. Period.