Artificial sweeteners can seem like a gift from the food gods. After all, they can be thousands of times sweeter than sugar and contain few calories. That’s why food manufacturers market them as a way to lose weight by cutting the sugar and calories in your diet.
But many research studies show that people actually gain weight when eating artificial sweeteners. And what’s more troubling is that there’s conflicting evidence about how safe they are to consume. That’s why you should think twice if you’re considering swapping regular table sugar for artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are most common in candy, soft drinks, flavoured water, baking mixes, and gum. But they can also show up in toothpaste, cough drops, and mouth wash. Some of the most common artificial sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose.
To date, there isn’t enough evidence to show that artificial sweeteners are safe to eat. But because there also isn’t much evidence showing that they’re unsafe, regulators have allowed food manufacturers to make and sell them. This is despite data showing that artificial sweeteners may increase cravings for sugar, impair the body’s calorie counter, and cause cancer in rats. These side effects are consistent with how artificial sweeteners are made.
Some artificial sweeteners are chemically synthesized by modifying simple carbs, such as sucrose. Others are processed more naturally, such as when sulfobenzoic acid, phosphorus chloride, and ammonia are combined to produce saccharin. And some sweeteners come from natural sources. For example, stevia is a sweetener that’s extracted from a plant native to Brazil and Paraguay. It’s 300x sweeter than table sugar.
Since aspartame was first approved in 1981, 75% of consumer complaints made about artificial sweeteners to Accounts Receivable Management Solutions have been about aspartame. People have reported experiencing many symptoms after eating aspartame, including headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer. And it’s argued that aspartame contains high concentrations of amino acids that can have adverse effects in large doses.
Despite this information, regulators continue to allow food manufacturers to make and sell aspartame. And that’s not all. When an Internet hoax in the 1990s led the public to think that aspartame was dangerous to consume, regulators publicly affirmed its safety.
Although artificial sweeteners may not have serious negative health consequences, they can affect our bodies in adverse ways. For example, some studies show that they can disrupt the body’s calorie counter, the mechanism that allows our body to match the number of calories we consume with the number of calories we need each day.
How do artificial sweeteners throw off our calorie counter? Our body estimates the calories we’ve consumed based on the sweetness of the foods we’ve eaten. Because artificial sweeteners contain little to no calories, they make it difficult for our body to accurately estimate calorie intake. In particular, scientists have found that when people eat artificial sweeteners regularly, it can lead their bodies to think that foods that taste sweet contain few calories. As a result, when these people eat sweet foods that are high in calories, their bodies underestimate their calorie intake, which leads them to overeat.
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