Artificial Sweeteners: the Good, Bad and Ugly
Sucralose, aspartame, sacchrin and erythritol are just a few of the sweeteners made from chemical molecules have been developed to give you the taste of sugar without actually ingesting the calories. Artificial sweeteners are anywhere from a few hundred times sweeter than sugar to 20,000 times sweeter.
Artificial sweeteners have been the topic of heated debates over the last several years on whether or not they effect insulin levels, can cause diabetes, can cause cancer, may lead to stroke and even weight gain.
Some people also believe that artificial sweeteners also cause people to actually eat more sugar because it triggers a response in the brain to look for something sweet.
The issue with artificial sweeteners is two fold: First, they're artificial. Splenda, Sweet n' Lo and Equal are all chemically produced in a factory and aren't even food, yet we are ingesting them. It's hard to advocate that they are good when they technically aren't even a food product.
Second, research done with artificial sweeteners is generally not a good example of how people may actually respond. In studies, rats or mice are generally given exponential doses of sweeteners that a normal person wouldn't actually consume.
Artificial sweeteners, or nonnutritive sweeteners are actually not metabolized by the body at all which is why they have been considered safe for consumption. Despite this, they have shown that consuming significant amounts of sweeteners may raise glucose levels. They have also been shown to disrupt gut microbiome which aids in digestion, bile creation and other major functions.
Nonnutritive sweeteners are also said to be beneficial because they can help reduce overall caloric intake as well as lower carbohydrate intake significantly by helping to cut out things like cans of soda and loads of sugar in coffee and other beverages. In turn, people are eating less, maintaining a better weight and in turn, reducing diseases.
What's the verdict then? Do they actually cause all of these issues?
To be completely honest, research shows a variety of different things and doesn't necessarily lean one way or another. While there may be some negatives to nonnutritive sweeteners, there may also be some positives.
While you may not want to load up your day on artificial sweeteners in things like sugar free candy and diet sodas, you're likely okay consuming them once in a while.
Putting an everything in moderation approach into effect with your sweeteners will work well--if you want to have them occasionally, have them. Just don't go overboard.