Artificial sweeteners were introduced into the commercial market several decades ago and were mostly sold as healthy alternatives to real sugar, as artificial sweeteners don’t have any calories and allegedly help in weight loss.
Several artificial sweeteners have been approved to fight obesity, diabetes and other metabolic syndromes. These sweeteners found in the market include aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame, neotame and sucralose, and all these have been deemed alright for public consumption.
While artificial sweeteners are good for controlling certain chronic illnesses, they may have some unwanted effects on completely healthy people. Bet you didn’t expect that, did you?
Here are some of these unexpected effects.
The notion that using artificial sweeteners instead of real sugar will help you lose weight seems to not hold much water, as a study done in 2008 showed that artificially sweetened beverages actually cause long-term weight gain.
Hard to believe, isn’t it?
The study compared two groups, one of which drank regular sugary fizzy drinks, whereas the other drank artificially sweetened beverages. Surprisingly, the group consuming drinks with artificial sweeteners actually gained more weight over a period of 10 years.
While in theory, they should lead to weight loss, the fact is that people, with the mindset that they’re taking no calories from the drinks, would tend to eat more. It’s all in the mind, my friend.
Increased Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
Artificial sweeteners can really affect the metabolic system and has been linked to high blood pressure and higher cholesterol. These conditions, if left untreated, can lead to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Type 2 Diabetes
A French group published a study in 2013 detailing data that indicated that 25% of those who consumed diet beverages the most had almost double the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes compared to people who stayed away from sugary drinks altogether, whether regular or artificially sweetened.
Messing With Your Taste Buds
Artificial sweeteners, even those that come from herbs like Stevia, are 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar. They can cause your taste buds to become numb to the amount of sugar in fruits and other foods, causing you to crave more sweets than usual.
Remember how people gain weight with these artificial sweeteners? Yeah, this is one of the reasons.
Irritations to Your Gut
Some artificial sweeteners are so much more sweeter than normal sugar that your digestive system is fooled into thinking that you ate a very large meal, leading to increased release of digestive acids, which can cause abdominal pain and other problems.
They Stay On in The Environment
Unlike natural sugar, artificial sweeteners can stay very long in the environment and pollute our water sources, leading to unwanted effects on wildlife. Studies have shown that sucralose and acesulfame K was found in treated wastewater, leading to concerns of how it may affect people who don’t consume artificial sweeteners but get it from their water.
You’ve stopped using straws? Why not stop artificial sweeteners as well then?
Allergy to Sweetener
Sweeteners like Aspartame are pretty safe for consumption on a daily basis, but some people lack the ability to degrade it, especially those suffering from phenylketonuria, leading to several side effects similar to a food allergy.
It Can Cause Diarrhea
Xylitol, a sweetener made from hardwood trees like birch, is good for teeth and is often used to sweeten chewing gum. However, copious amounts of Xylitol can also cause water retention, leading to diarrhea.
Links to Cancer
Back in 1996, a study suggested that artificial sweeteners were linked to certain cancers. Although no studies have replicated that data, the fears remain a possibility.
They Can Affect You Gut Immunity
Your guts benefit from the presence of good bacteria known as probiotics, and artificial sweeteners affect their population, leading to a disruption of your natural probiotics to keep the bad bacteria in check.
Scientific studies are very clear that consuming artificial sweeteners in moderate and controlled amounts doesn’t bring any harm to your body, but overdoing it can lead to negative impacts on your health.
Therefore, moderation is always the key when it comes to artificial sweeteners.
Or even better, just go for plain water. You’ll never go wrong with that.
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