What is the link between artificial sweeteners and obesity?
We consume artificial sweeteners sometimes without knowing and sometimes deliberately, along with commercial products, thinking they are healthy and very effective for controlling blood sugar and weight. The truth about them is far from it.
Desserts, chewing gum, juice, instant coffee, chewable vitamins, ice cream, jelly, candy, yogurt, almost all diet products, “light” or “sugar-free” aren’t a wise choice. Researchers warn that artificial sweeteners used to replace sugar are actually hundreds of times sweeter than it and cause numerous health problems, among which are diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
These are synthetic substances much sweeter than sugar and contain less calories, almost imperceptible. Thus, products based on sweeteners have far less calories than those containing sugar.
US Food and Drug Administration approved six artificial sweeteners with few calories to be used in a variety of foods: aspartame, saccharin, cyclamate, acesulfame-K, sucralose, and advantame.
E 951 – Aspartame
Aspartame is one of the most present on the market, included in more than 6,000 products worldwide, either alone or in combination with saccharin. It is found in the form of a white crystalline powder or in granular form.
E 954 – Saccharin
Saccharin was discovered in 1879, presenting in the form of colorless crystals, sometimes gaining a white hue. It is obtained from petroleum. Saccharin was suspected of promoting cancer, so both its consumption and commercialization was banned in Canada.
E 952 – Cyclamate
Cyclamate is used in the manufacture of soft drinks, biscuits and pastries, jams and canned fruits. The sweetening power of cyclamate varies between 30-80, depending on the food product. In high concentrations, its sweetness is affected by an unpleasant residual component.
E 950 – Acesulfame K
Acesulfame K (K for Potassium) is an artificial sweetener discovered accidentally in 1967. It is found in the form of colorless crystals or a white crystalline powder. The sweet taste of acesulfame K installs rapidly and it resembles the one of sucrose at low concentrations; at higher concentrations, the taste of acesulfame K is affected by a slight bitter residual component, less intense than that of saccharin.
E 955 – Sucralose
Due to its high stability, sucralose can be used in products that require heat treatment or prolonged storage period. Sucralose is used frequently in sweets and soft drinks, but it is also marketed as such, under the name of “Splenda”, mixed with other substances such as dextrose and maltodextrin.
The last artificial sweetener approved by the FDA, is aspartame’s sweeter uncle, to be more specific 20,000 times, gram per gram, sweeter than sugar.
Artificial sweeteners also fatten
If you read the label of the products containing sweeteners, you will see that they are recommended for people with weight problems or diabetes. In the case of healthy individuals, sugar (especially the one contained by fruits) is food for the brain. Doctors warn that sweeteners are not recommended for children or healthy adults. In this regard, sugar is a better option because in moderate amounts it provides calories that are necessary for energy.
When it comes to sweeteners, one problem stands: some of them can lead to gaining weight. That’s because these chemicals turn the body’s ability to control its appetite upside down. Thus, the body requires more food than it needs. Normally, the body expects to receive large amounts of calories when it feels the taste of sweet and it prepares the digestive system for this. When calories don’t follow the sweet taste, as it happens in the case of artificial sweetener, the body gets confused and cannot control its appetite.
So you eat more and you gain weight accordingly.
Leads to cardiovascular diseases
A study conducted on 60,000 women with an average age of 62.8 years, revealed a link between consuming diet drinks and cardiovascular problems. “Although the term diet should designate a healthy product, several studies have shown that artificial sweeteners in low-calorie beverages are one of the causes of metabolic syndrome and heart diseases”, researcher Ankur Vyas from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics explained.
What can you do?
Addiction to a certain type of artificial sugar cannot be easily eliminated. You need perseverance and a well-established plan.
You can start by reducing the amount of artificial sugars in your diet, by moderate consumption of certain foods and beverages. If you use them in coffee or tea, try to minimize the amount. Use less cookies, juices, sugar-free chewing gums in your diet and all the similar products promoted in TV commercials. In time, your body will be able to get rid of this addiction to sweets.
Simultaneously, you can replace certain artificial sugar based products with natural alternatives. Think about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. They contain natural sugars that help the body more than any artificial sugar produced for commercial use.
If you fail to get rid of that desire to eat “sweets” even after you have reduced or replaced food and drinks that contain these substances, resort to the true natural sweetener given by nature: honey. One tablespoon of honey in the morning tea is a miracle worker.