Not Everything Healthy Is Sweet. the Effects of Artificial Sweeteners

Updated on April 8th, 2020
Artificial sweeteners

What are Artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are calorie-free or low-calorie or chemical substances used instead of sugar to sweeten foods and drinks. They’re found in thousands of products, from desserts, drinks, and ready meals, to chewing gum, cakes,  and even toothpaste!

Sweeteners allowed for use in the UK: include Aspartame, acesulfame K, sorbitol, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, xylitol.

Both the US National Cancer Institute and Cancer Research UK  have said artificial sweeteners do not cause cancer.

Cancer Research UK states, ‘large studies looking at people have now provided strong evidence that artificial sweeteners are safe for humans.’ All sweeteners in the EU undergo a thorough safety assessment by the EFSA(European Food Safety Authority) before they can be utilized in drinks and food.

Acceptable daily intake limit (ADI)

As part of the assessment process, the EFSA sets an acceptable daily intake limit (ADI), which is the ceiling considered safe to consume daily throughout your life.

You do not need to track down how much sugar you consume daily, as our food habits are looked into when specifying where sweeteners can be utilized.

[Read: Eat Smarter with These Brown Sugar Substitutes]

Are sweeteners healthy?

Sweeteners can be safe, but are they really healthy? Food manufacturers claim sweeteners help control blood sugar levels, prevent tooth decay, and minimize our calorie intake.

Controlling blood sugar levels

blood sugar levels
Image:ShutterStock

EFSA has backed the health claims made about sorbitol(1), xylitol, and sucralose, among others, concerning controlling blood sugar levels and oral health. A study into sweeteners shows they’re perfectly safe to eat or drink daily as part of a healthy diet.

Beneficial for people with diabetes

They’re a beneficial alternative for people with diabetes who need to watch their blood sugar levels while still enjoying their favorite foods.

Do not increase blood sugar levels

Like sugar, artificial sugars provide a sweet taste, but what differentiates them apart is that, after consumption, they hardly spike up blood sugar levels.

[Read: The Effects of Jaggery on the Body]

Stimulating effect on appetite

It’s been advised that the use of artificial sweeteners may have a stimulating effect on appetite and, therefore, may play a role in obesity and weight gain.

There’s little evidence that sweeteners cause weight gain

But research into appetite stimulation(2) and sweeteners is inconsistent. Also, there’s little evidence from longer-term studies to show that sweeteners cause weight gain.

The Artificial Sweetener Side Effects You Should Know About

Unfortunately, some studies show these innocuous-sounding sugar swap-ins can harm your health. On the bright side, other studies show that artificial sweeteners don’t create adverse side effects in the consumer, especially if you’re generally healthful in the first place.

How Do Artificial Sweeteners Work?

What are artificial sweeteners? Artificial sugars, also known as sugar substitutes(3) or high-intensity sweeteners, are often sweeter than sugar but provide few if any, calories.

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Nutritive sweeteners

Nutritive sweeteners
Image:shutterstock

Most artificial sweeteners are either incompletely metabolized, so they provide very few calories, also known as ‘nutritive sweeteners,’ or aren’t metabolized at all known as ‘non-nutritive sweeteners,’ so they provide no calories. The reason artificial sugars aren’t metabolized by our bodies is that our bodies don’t have the enzymes needed to absorb them.

200 to 20,000 times sweeter than sugar!

Artificial sweeteners work by activating the same sensory cells in our taste buds that send signals to our brain when we taste something saccharine like sugar. And because artificial sweeteners are from 200 to 20,000 times sweeter than sugar, manufacturers can use so little in their preparation that they add almost no calories. In contrast, the same amount of sweetness from sugar would have more calories.

[Read: Best Reasons That Will Make You opt for A Sugar Detox]

Are Artificial Sugars Bad For You And Should You Reject Them?

The FDA monitors the safety of sugar substitutes intending to make sure that the amounts generally used are not harmful to the general public. FDA sets an ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) for every type of sugar alternative, which is the amount a person could consume daily over without adverse effects.

Inconsistent research studies

There are inconsistent research studies, with some showing that artificial sweeteners increase sweet cravings and body weight, and others that artificial sweeteners do not affect.

Advisable to limit both sugars and artificial sweeteners

It is advisable to limit both sugars and artificial sweeteners and to be aware of any changes in taste preferences and cravings so that to understand how these sweeteners affect personally—looking to cut down sweeteners — artificial or otherwise? Check out easy ways to stop eating more sugar.

Artificial sweeteners may help some dieters lose weight. But many experts remain concerned about side effects and weight gain.

Conclusion:

So choose naturally sweet foods like whole fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth and take advantage of the vitamins, minerals, and other benefits that whole foods provide. Reach out to your healthcare team if you are concerned about the side effects of artificial sweeteners or need help cutting back.

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