Sugar Substitutes (Artificial Sweeteners) And Their Potential Danger To Your Health
Artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes have long been the topic of much controversy and hot debates among the consumer. Before tearing open a packet of artificial sweetener or sugar substitute, make sure you understand and learn the facts about these sweeteners. The facts seem to be astonishing, but true nonetheless.
Artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes were designed to help substitute for table sugar among diabetics due to the fact that they can’t tolerate normal sugar. The consumption of which may cause the rise in their insulin level. Since artificial sweeteners are of zero glucose they seem to be beneficial for diabetics and those with a medical condition.
People think that foods that has labelled with “sugar-free” or “fat-free” are healthy and zero calorie. Thus, they will consume as much as sugar-free foods as they desire because they believe that they won’t gain more weight. In fact, some sugar-free sweeteners do contain simple carbohydrates, in which each gram of the sweetener may raise their blood glucose just as much as sugar does, and research suggests that they may encourage overeating among the consumers. This is to alert you that you should restrict use of these sugar-free sweeteners as keeping them as minimal as possible as they are not friendly to one’s diet.
Artificial sweeteners are always considered as a less fattening or less calorie alternative used in most foods and beverages ranging from diet sodas, yogurt, diet coke and such. They resemble the flavour of sugar and people use them to replace the sweetness of sugar. They have virtually no calorie but many recent studies show that they can actually increase one’s appetite causing overeating and some of them may cause adverse effects if consumed in large quantity. Aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesukfame potassium and saccharin are some of the dangerous artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA for consumer consumption. This fact sounds astonishing, but true nonetheless.
Synthesizing in a laboratory, aspartame (a product of aspartic acid [or amino acids], phenylalanine and methanol combination) is an artificial sweetener that can mainly be found in the sugar-substitute brands like NutraSweet, Canderel, DiabetiSweet, Spoonful, and Equal. The use of aspartame was approved by FDA in 1981 and for years it has been a main ingredient in diet sodas. It’s also found in more than 6,000 foods and drinks, including Diet Coke, chewing gum, sodas, instant coffee, chewable tablets, yogurt, sugar-free gums, frozen yogurt, hot cocoa, gelatine, pudding, cereal, breath mints, sugar substitutes, pharmaceutical drugs to frozen desserts.
Generally, aspartame contains no calories but it is 200 times sweeter than sugar! Due to that it contains phenylalanine, aspartame is certainly not safe for the consumption of those who suffer from rare hereditary disease called phenylketonuria (PKU) that does not allow the body to metabolize phenylalanine at its normal rate. Aspartame has also been identified for a possible cause of many cancer-inducing diseases, diabetes, Fibromyalgia, mental retardation, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, brain tumor, and epilepsy. Aspartame has also been found to trigger headaches and/or migraines.
Aspartame addicts are more likely to suffer from multiple illnesses like emotional disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, joint pain, dizziness, headaches, slurred speech, insomnia, lupus, brain tumor, nausea, visual hallucinations, migraines, vertigo, cramps, tinnitus, fibromyalgia symptoms, memory impairment, chronic fatigue syndrome, manic episodes, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasms and depression.
Sucralose is always known with its yellow packet sold under brand name Splenda and its use was approved in foods and beverages by FDA in 1998. It is prepared by a chlorinating process which involves a process of substituting three hydroxyl components with three bonded chlorine atoms by changing the structure of the sugar molecules. In other words, Sucralose is bonded with chlorine atoms but it does not act similar to those household products that contain chlorine due to the way it is structured. This artificial sweetener contains no calorie and is used in more than thousands of products sold in the market. It’s certainly surprising to know that it is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Latest research suggests that Sucralose may cause stomach pain, headaches, panic, bladder-related problem, and skin rashes. In post approval animal research, renal mineralization and caecal enlargement were seen as a cause of Sucralose, while in pre-approval research Sucralose has been observed to cause enlarged kidneys and liver; and shrunken thymus glands. Many researches have linked health hazards for the long-term use of Sucralose.
In the animal experimentation, Saccharin (or its street name, sweet ‘N low), an O-toluene sulphonamide derivative form of chemical sweetener, has been confirmed to cause cancer, but foods containing saccharin no longer carry the hazardous warning on the label. Overuse of Saccharin may cause adverse reactions of tachycardia, sensory neuropathy, diarrhea, wheezing, headache, bladder cancer, tongue blister, nausea and dieresis.
Neotame is the newest artificial sweetener known to be 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. It is found in gum, soft drinks, frozen desserts, processed fruit juice, gelatin, jelly and pudding, and it was approved to use in foods and beverages by the FDA in 2002. Up to now, there is still no clear statement regarding its safety for human consumption.
Sorbitol and Xylitol
Like Mannitol and Maltitol, Sorbitol (found in cough syrups, sugar-free gum, mints) and Xylitol (derived from birch tree pulp) are natural sweeteners or sugar alcohols that are safer for the consumption of diabetics as they do not give rise to insulin. Even though they do contain aka carbohydrates and starches they are not digested by the small intestine and hence they have minor effects on blood sugar and do not trigger insulin reaction. Nevertheless, both Sorbitol and Xylitol may cause digestive disturbances due to their laxative effect. In certain occasions, Sorbitol has been identified as a culprit for causing bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and flatulence. In short, the more you consume these sweeteners the more you see the frightening results.
Since 1970s, Stevia has been used extensively in Japanese food manufacturing, and now, it’s gaining popularity in Western countries. Originally, Stevia is a plant known as “sweet herb” in South America and for centuries, its leaves have been used as a sweetener to treat heartburn and diabetes by the native people in Brazil and Paraguay.
Stevia is considered as a natural alternative and hence it’s always claimed to be the healthiest sweetener as compared to other artificial sweeteners available in the market. It is zero calories but it is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Recent studies suggest that overconsumption of Stevia may be a potential cause of reproductive problem for both male and female. There is still questionable to whether Stevia can cause cancer as there is still inadequate information to confirm its contribution to cancer.
Author’s Opinions and Suggestions
No matter how good the sugar substitutes are the fact is that they’re chemical or natural compounds that may actually tempt you into eating more even though they mean to be low-calorie and sugar-free, and definitely they are not diet-friendly. They will never be a good idea for the consumption of pregnant moms, teenagers or children as they may pose irreversible cell damage and it’s really surprising to find the negative result if one has already addicted to these artificial sweeteners.
It’s always better to turn to natural sweeteners like organic maple syrup, date sugar, brown rice syrup, molasses and honey which will benefit our body. If you still want to satisfy sugar cravings or a craving for sweets using artificial sweeteners, try using them in moderation, so that they wreak less havoc to your immune system.
Always read the food labels carefully and make sure that Splenda, NutraSweet, Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium (K) or Equal is not on the label to help minimize harmful effects of artificial sweeteners.
Don’t purchase products which have “sugar free”, “no sugar”, “zero calorie”, “save calorie”, “low calorie”, “no sugar added” and so forth on its label as they may contain certain sugar substitutes which may havoc your immune system.
Instead of drinking diet sodas, diet coke and any other diet drinks, drink purified alkaline water to effectively flush toxins out of the body. If necessary, adopt an appropriate routine in colon/liver cleansing to help eliminate toxin substances that have accumulated in your body.
Ask FDA and your local government to investigate those artificial sweeteners that cause adverse side effects.
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