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The Truth on Artificial Sweeteners in Food, Drinks & Meals

4 Mins read

In its simplest state, an artificial sweetener is a substance that gets added to beverages to make them taste better. It is usually a sugar substitute. Artificial sweeteners should not be mistaken for table sugars as they are a lot sweeter than table sugars.

There are lots of thoughts concerning the effects of sweeteners on the body. Certain people believe sweeteners are beneficial to the health, others are of the opinion sweeteners have lots of side effects.

Contained in this article are important facts about sweeteners and how they affect the human body.

How Does Artificial Sweeteners Affect Diabetes

Artificial sweeteners might not seem perfect for one’s general health. They, however, are very beneficial to people with diabetes. When artificial sweeteners are used by people with diabetes, they can enjoy sweet-tasting meals without necessarily going through a spike in blood sugar.

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What is the Effect of Artificial Sweeteners on the Gut?

Unknown to lots of people, the state of the gut is of utmost importance to what the state of the entire body will be. If the gut is unhealthy, then, an individual will be regarded to be unhealthy.

There is a lot the bacteria present in the gut do for every individual. Due to this, if your gut health is poor, such ailments as metabolic syndrome, a weak immune system, disrupted sleep, bad blood sugar control, and weight gain become major problems.

What we feed on has a great impact on what the composition of our gut is. According to certain studies, when consumed, artificial sweeteners do not have a good effect on the gut. They could cause a disruption in gut bacteria balance when an individual is not used to feeding in them.

What are the Effects of Artificial Sweeteners on Appetite?

It is believed by lots of people that artificial sweeteners have the ability to make people eat more and, therefore, gain unwanted weight. This because there is a huge likelihood that artificial sweeteners do not have the ability to activate the food reward pathway which you need to feel satisfied after having a meal.

Artificial sweeteners have a sweet taste. However, unlike other foods with sweet tastes that have a good amount of calories, artificial sweeteners do not contain adequate calories. Due to this, they sometimes make the brain feel empty even when the body has already had some food. 

Although the belief that artificial sweeteners make people have huge appetites is widespread, it is unconfirmed as certain studies also reveal that artificial sweeteners bring about reduced hunger when consumed.

Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer?

There has always been a debate about the effect of artificial sweeteners on cancer. After a series of research, it was discovered that male mice had an increased risk of getting affected by bladder cancer when they ate a good amount of saccharin. Although in lots of situations, mice and humans have lots of similarities, this case is different.

A series of studies have been carried out to ascertain if artificial sweeteners cause cancer in humans. So, far, there is no proof that artificial sweeteners are responsible for bladder cancer in humans.

Types of Artificial Sweeteners

There are several types of artificial sweeteners. Some of them are;

Saccharin

Saccharin was discovered in 1879. It is believed to be up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar and played a special role as a sweetener during the first and the Second World War while there was a shortage of table sugar.

After a series of research, there were reports that saccharin was responsible for causing bladder cancer in rats and could potentially harm humans. Due to this report, the FDA made attempts at banning the sale of saccharin. This, however, did not pull through as lots of people were not ready to let saccharin go. Since the general populace was not ready to let go of saccharin, the FDA allowed the continued production of saccharin. However, each container of saccharin had a label that read “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health”. Although this label lasted for a while, it is no longer attached to saccharin as several studies have proved that saccharin only caused cancer in male rats and had no such effect on female rats and humans. 

Stevia

Stevia might not be as old as saccharin. It, however, is very common among people that enjoy using herbal products. Stevia is used in beverages and foods. It is commonly used in Japan and South America and is an herbal sweetener.

Unlike a lot of other artificial sweeteners, Stevia does not show any signs of having a side effect on people that use it. Regardless of the fact that Stevia does not show any signs of being toxic, it does not have FDA approval. The implication of this is it does not get sold as an artificial sweetener. Nonetheless, people that want to make use of it can by one as a dietary supplement.

Since stevia is not approved by the FDA, it does not get the level of regulation that other artificial sweeteners get. Due to this, there is no guarantee of how pure it really is.

Aspartame

This is another popular artificial sweetener that is considered safe for the average person. Just like other popular artificial sweeteners, aspartame has a fair share of critics. There are lots of people that believe this sweetener is responsible for chronic fatigue syndrome and brain tumors. Although this belief is quite widespread, it is not true. Aspartame can only lead to unwanted medical conditions in people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic condition that leads to amino acid metabolisms disorder. When people are affected by PKU, they have to ensure that the level of phenylalanine in their blood is low. This is important as it helps in preventing dermatological, behavioral, and neurological problems. Now, phenylalanine is contained in aspartame. Since it is contained in aspartame, people with PKU will be making a grave mistake when they consume aspartame.