Should I Eat Artificial Sweeteners?

Should I Eat Artificial Sweeteners?

This topic is one of the most controversial among people and health professionals. Is there a place for artificial sweeteners (aka nonnutritive sweeteners) in your diet or not? Like most debates in the nutrition field, this one can be argued both ways. To be clear, I am not endorsing or bashing the use of them. I am simply presenting the facts. Anyway, let’s briefly examine the most common pros and cons.

Pros

One of the most obvious benefits of artificial sweeteners is that they may help with weight loss by the virtue that they provide zero calories. Since they are zero calories and provide no real sugar, they will have little to no effect on blood sugar levels. This is an advantage for people who want to avoid that dreadful sugar crash followed by the subsequent search for more sugar that comes along with it. Non-nutritive sweeteners may also serve as a great alternative for people with diabetes who want to enjoy a sweet treat without causing complications with their blood sugar levels.

Cons

The most well-known potential side effect of artificial sweeteners is that they have been shown in rat studies from the 1970s to cause cancer. Another highly notable side effect is that they are associated with headaches. Interestingly, another reported downside of artificial sweeteners is the exact opposite of the main “pro”. That is, that they actually cause people to gain weight. The theory is as follows: When you eat artificial sweeteners, your body senses sweetness but does not receive the pleasure-reward response that is typical to real sugar. Therefore, it essentially “tricks” your mind, leaving you unsatisfied and, in turn, leads to you eating more calories and gaining weight.

People often get scared to drink 1 can of diet soda due to the cancer issue. However, the amounts that were given to the rats in the study to reach cancerous levels were absurdly high. Just look at what the FDA has labeled as theAcceptable Daily Intake (ADI). Take aspartame for example, which typically has the worst rap of them all. For a 150 pound person, it isn’t until they reach 20 cans of diet cola until they go over the ADI.

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Bottom line

The studies done on rats that showed cancerous results were at very high dosages. It appears the general population can consume artificial sweeteners safely, in moderation of course. At the end of the day, if they help you manage your weight than that’s great, so use them as a beneficial tool in moderation. On the other hand, if they make you eat more and get headaches, then try to wing yourself off of them. 

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