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The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners

The big debate on artificial sweeteners and their health risks continues on, with the FDA claiming that there are no known health risks & others arguing that they indeed have harmful effects on the body.

Let me start by saying that the argument stating there are no known health risks of artificial sweeteners is not a good enough answer to get me to ingest them. Period.

In fact, I’m more inclined to side with the argument that artificial sweeteners can cause a whole slew of negative health effects, which are backed by several studies. Especially since the companies & organizations advocating for the safety of artificial sweeteners generally has a financial stake in the matter, and thus something to hide.

Now although I am using the term “artificial sweetener” broadly, you should know that reduced calorie sweeteners (sugar alcohols) differ slightly. Artificial sweeteners, which are made in a lab, are completely void of calories and do not raise your blood sugar whereas sugar alcohols do have a caloric value and can raise your blood sugar level.

Some of the more commonly known artificial sweeteners are Sucralose, Aspartame, Acesulfame, & Saccharin.

A few reduced calorie sweeteners, or “sugar alcohols” are Xylitol, Isomalt, Maltitol, Mannitol, & Sorbitol

Here are just a few of the side effects that can be caused by some of the above sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners:

  • Saccharin: Cancer, should be avoided by people with Eczema and other skin conditions. This artificial sweetener can also be found in Aspirin & Acetaminophen (about as much as a diet soda)
  • Aspartame: Seizures, Headaches, Attention Deficit Disorders, mood swings, depression, panic attacks, nausea heart palpitations, constipation, swelling of body parts, dizziness, respiratory issues, weight gain, body fat percent increase, tumors, certain types of cancers, & vision problems
  • Sucralose: Enlarged liver & Kidneys, shrunken thymus (plays a role in the development of the immune system), other kidney problems, and a reduced red blood cell count. It also can cause headaches, dizziness, bloating, panic, rashes, depression, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, & seizures, headaches, along with mood swings, depression, panic attacks, nausea, dizziness, and temper problems
  • Acesulfame: Headaches, nausea, liver & kidney problems, vision problems, depression, & cancer
  • Xylitol: Low Blood Sugar, Hypoglycemia, kidney stones & increased levels of uric acid in your blood, rashes/itching, diarrhea, gas, difficulty breathing, tumors,
  • Sorbitol: Heart and lung related issues, breathing difficulties, diarrhea, gas, compromised ability to absorb nutrients, & an over production of urine

Some more facts

  • In the brain, there is a direct link between the taste of a food and the caloric intake your body expects from that food. By ingesting a low calorie, no calorie (not including water), or “diet” food, your body essentially gets confused which can lead to more cravings and thus weight-gain.
  • Artificial sweeteners can over stimulate your sense of taste for sweet foods so what you consume foods that are naturally sweet, they don’t seem as sweet, like a banana for example. Also, foods that are not sweet can begin to taste completely unappealing. This can leave you unsatisfied and more likely to overeat.

All of the risks stated above are merely the known possible risks…what about the side effects that we aren’t even aware of due to lack of information or lack of studies? Is that one beverage or snack really worth the risk?

Skipping the calories but getting a whole plate full of health risks hardly seems worth it, only to end up with the risk of gaining weight anyway, the very thing you were trying tolemon-91537_640 avoid from the beginning.

A better, natural option?

  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Pure Maple Syrup (Aunt Jemima doesn’t count)
  • Sugar in the Raw
  • Agave nectar

*Try cutting back on sugar altogether (real or artificial). If you want something sweet, opt for fruit, but if you must use sugar, try the ones I listed above.”

Gradually try to reduce sugar & artificial sweeteners from your diet until you reach a point where they are hardly or never used.

So, what do you think? Will you skip out on that next packet of Splenda or diet soda??

– Letisha

Sources:

http://www.holisticmed.com/splenda/research-adverse.html
http://www.medicinenet.com/artificial_sweeteners/article.htm
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1931116,00.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/85091-dangers-xylitol/
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thymus

~Brown & Coconut on Facebook~

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