The Real Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners


Here at HCBL.com blog we are dedicated to bringing you the latest and most accurate health information that is available.  We do this so that you as a consumer can be aware of any and all health risks which you may not have been privy to.  One particular bit of info that has come across our desks lately is in relation not only to diet soft drinks and sugar free foods, but it’s also directly related to the artificial sweeteners that are used within those products.  For years artificial sweeteners have been held in high regard as a miracle alternative to those with diabetes.  Well a new recent study has begun to say otherwise.

The study was done by The University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio.  It’s initial findings reported 1“data showing that diet soft drink consumption is associated with increased waist circumference in humans, and a second study that found aspartame raised fasting glucose (blood sugar) in diabetes prone mice.”  A professor and chief of the Division was quoted as saying, 2“Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised.”
Before we dive head first into the study and it’s findings, we’d like to get you more familiar with some basic facts about artificial sweeteners.  As easy a topic as this may seem, it would surprise you to know how complex it can be on the production side, as well as many of the different types of sweeteners and their possible side effects or complications with diabetes patients.

 

There are 5 different artificial sweeteners which have been approved by the FDA for consumption.

  • Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
  • Neotame
  • Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N’Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

 

Acesulfame Potassium has been an approved artificial sweetener and flavor enhancer by the World Health Organization since 1978.  It’s said to be 200 times as sweet as sugar; however, it can have a bitter aftertaste. Acesulfame Potassium is often used over other sweeteners for sugar-free baking and cooking.  3“The major difference between Acesulfame Potassium and other artificial sweeteners is the fact that it can be used in higher heat applications and remain stable.  Sweeteners such as aspartame become less stable and are unsuitable for baking applications… It is also very useful as an additive to medications which must be cheesed or consumed in liquid form to provide a more pleasant flavor to active ingredients in the medicine.”

Aspartame has come under quite a bit of fire since its entrance into the artificial sweetener arena.  The most common complaint that has been launched against the food additive is that it was a potential risk for developing cancer.  Initially a study was published in 2005 by the Environmental Health Perspective. 4“They concluded that even a dose of 20mg/kg of body weight, far less than the 50mg/kg of body weight allowed as acceptable by the FDA, increased the development of lymphomas, leukemia and uritogenital tumors in rats studied from age eight weeks until their natural death.”

Though it may seem like pretty damaging evidence that the product has the potential to cause cancerous agents over time, another study that was done in 2007 by the University of Maryland Critical Reviews in Toxicology, was reported by lead author Bernadene Magnuson 4“that doses up to 4,000mg/kg per body weight have shown no adverse effects in animal studies.”

So who’s telling the real story? And why is it such a huge problem?  It’s a large problem because Aspartame is the most popular sugar substitute used in diet soft drinks.  That’s right, all of those diet soft-drinks that are sold to you by Coke and Pepsi which guarantee you no calories and low sugar or sugar-free with great taste use Aspartame.  The real story behind what these sugar substitutes are doing to your body has come to light in a new study released by SALSA (San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging).  So what are the real effects of sugar substitutes on your system?
Of the 474 participants in the study, SALSA measured the height, weight, circumference, and diet soda intake of each participant.  The average follow-up time was 9.5 years, and the researchers compared long-term change in waist circumference for diet soda users versus non-users.  5“Diet soft drink users, as a group, experienced 70 percent greater increases in waist circumference compared with non-users.  Frequent users, who said they consumed two or more diet sodas a day, experienced waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than those of non-users.”

In a related study, Gabriel Fernandes, Ph.D., studied the effects of aspartame on diabetes-prone mice.  One of the groups was given aspartame and corn oil along with their regular diet.  The other group was simply given corn oil with their diet.  After three months on this high fat diet, the mice in the group given the aspartame showed elevated fasting glucose levels but equal or diminished insulin levels.  The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant. Doctor Fernandes says, “These results suggest that heavy aspartame exposure might potentially directly contribute to increased blood glucose levels, and thus contribute to the associations observed between diet soda consumption and the risk of diabetes in humans.”

In reading this and going down the list you might say that you would turn your alternative sweetener choice to Saccharin.  But in research done by HCBL.com we found that, 6“In a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute during 1978 and 1979, it was concluded that heavy users of Saccharin, and products containing it such as diet soda, could be at an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.  ‘Heavy use,’ was defined as ‘two or more 8-ounce servings of a diet drink per day,’ or ‘six or more servings of (packets of) sugar substitute per day.”

Which sugar substitute is the “most safe?”  Well, of all the sugar substitutes which have been tested over the years the only one which has listed several side effects without any long term effects would be Sucralose or Splenda as it is more commonly known.  The reason why splenda is more easily adaptable to the human body is simple.  Sucralose is a natural derivative of sugar.  Therefore your body can break it down much easier than say, something artificial which it hasn’t had much time to adjust to.  The biggest problem that comes with any substitution to your normal intake in nutrition is whether or not your body is equipped to handle it.

So when you’re on your next shopping trip to the grocery store, and you’re thinking that those sugar free products are just the thing for you to help lose weight, or to help keep your sugar levels in check.  Just remember that not everything you read on a product means that it’s healthier for you.  It’s always worth your time to look into the foods that you’re eating, how fresh and organic they are, and what effects (be they positive or negative) the nutrients have on your body.

 

Resources:

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8 responses

  1. The other problem that no one seems to want to mention is that sure, these sweeteners are zero calorie, but that doesn’t actually equate to weight loss. They may not contain any calories, but the body still reads it as glucose which is exactly what sugar is read as. it has the same effect as sugar only now you have added on a host of new problems due to the non natural chemical make up of these imitation brands.

    We recommend everything natural in moderation. Stay clear of these new fad fake sugar substitues. The full story has not yet become clear on their side effects but from where we stand? The benefits are far overshadowed by the health risks.

  2. What a insightful blog! This discussion is exactly what I was looking for, well done! Can’t wait to share this with other people!

  3. Truvia, although made from Stevia as well has dextrose added to it. Stevia in the raw is just that, pure Stevia extract.

    Sincerely,

    HCBL

  4. What is the latest word on Stevia ? I am currently using a product called Truvia, ( truvia.com ) made from the Stevia leaf but will soon be using “Stevia” in the raw.

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