A delicious beverage with zero calories and zero grams of sugar. A tasty candy bar that advertises zero grams of sugar and minimal calories. Calorie and sugar free syrup and carmel to drizzle on your pancakes in the morning. With options like these in supermarkets dieting should be no problem. Artificial sweeteners have given us a dieting aid, and that is the ability to eat whatever we want, granted that the fattening sugar has been replaced by this chemical substitute. We really can have our cake and eat it too (no pun intended).
But why is it that this technology has not improved health in our country. Why have obesity rates continued to rise even though dieting is easier than ever? Well it is because these artificial sweeteners are not everything they are made out to be. Not only do they stifle weight loss and increase cravings, they pose a serious health risk.
Why they will make you gain weight
Why is sugar bad for you? Well when you injest sugar it digests very quickly and is sent directly to your blood stream. Your body then releases a spike of insulin to deal with this high blood sugar. This insulin sends this sugar into your cells and stores the remainder as fat. Since sugar hits us all at once, a large quantity of it is not immediately usable and thus is converted to fat. This is why sugar is cut out in most diet plans.
However, if we replace sugar with an artificial sweetener then we work around that issue with no noticable difference in taste, right? Well this isn’t true unfortunately. The issue with this is that the insulin is released as a result of your taste buds sensing the sweetness entering the body. Therefore, your insulin will still spike however now you will not have the sugar to meet it in the blood. This confuses the body and as a result, your body will demand more food to satisfy this insulin spike. Therefore, you will experience great cravings for sugary foods and in turn will end up injesting more calories and sugar than you would with a normal meal containing sugar.
Whenever a new artificial sweetener enters the market it is immediately advertised as the first sweetener with no health detriments and great for weight loss. The problem is as research and studies develop, all sweeteners have been found to have negative effects. Take sucralose for example, the main ingredient in splenda. It was all the rage for a while but after long term studies were done it was found to cause weight gain, hamper digestion, and even increase carcinogens in the body leading to cancer. You know how you have all those healthy bacteria in your intestines that helps digest foods? Well when you injest sucralose it kills up to 80 percent of these bacteria which makes digestion very difficult.
The thing about artificial sweeteners is that they are all unnatural and are bound to have a negative health effect. Humans were not meant to consume these products in the form they are presented and the body will not accept them readily. Even the artificial sweetener that is considered entirely natural–stevia–has been found to negatively effect health. It has been correlated with tumor growth and weight gain. Artificial sweeteners are simply a short cut to weight loss that we have tried to develop. However just like most other short cuts in life, they don’t work out in the long term. If you are going to choose to sweeten your food and beverages then choose the sugar our bodies can handle. Its always healthier to find natural sources of sugar such as fruits but if it comes between plain table sugar and your chemical substitute, go with the table sugar. Those zero calorie replacements will hurt you far more than you know.