If you’re trying to lose weight, as many people are, the first thing you do is cut back on calories. Cutting processed sugar out of the daily diet is absolutely the best place to start, however, you still crave sweets. So, what’s do you do now? Many people think the answer lies in artificial sweeteners. What’s not to like about this alternative? You get the sweet flavor without the calories. It’s perfect, right?
Have you ever heard the phrase “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, this is certainly true with artificial sweeteners, which aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In fact they can be down right dangerous. Here’s what you need to know…
They dull your taste buds.-
All of the zero-calorie sweeteners, including Aspartame, Sucralose, Xylitol, Erythritol, and Stevia, are anywhere from 200 to 600 times sweeter than table sugar. This means your taste buds get used to the extra sweetness, making them less receptive to natural sources such as fruit. (3) So, like a drug, you’ll need more of it to satisfy your sweet tooth.
They cause weight gain–
One of the main reasons people consume artificial sweeteners is to lose weight, unfortunately, the opposite happens. Studies indicate that individuals who consume artificial sweeteners had higher body fat percentages than people who drank sugar sweetened beverages. (1)
Why does this happen, if these beverages have zero calories? Would it surprise you if I said it was BECAUSE they were zero calorie? ANY zero calorie sweetener, INCLUDING STEVIA, cause you to crave the very thing you are trying to avoid on a diet, SUGAR and CARBOHYDRATES. Why? Because, when your body tastes something sweet, it expects calories, so a series of reactions happen in your digestive system, to prepare for digesting the incoming carbohydrates and calories.
HOWEVER, zero calorie sweeteners trick your hormones. As part of the preparation to digest carbohydrates, your body releases insulin, which in turn causes craving. (2) So, when you eat something sweet, that has zero calories, your body is “all dressed up with no place to go,” so to speak and will continue to crave carbohydrates to satisfy the chemical reactions in the body. In other words, by eating zero calorie sweets, you’ve told the body calories are coming. When the body doesn’t get the expected calories, it will send cravings until it gets what it wants.
Increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. –
The combination of the above issues, leads to metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes.
Some of them are neurotoxins.-
Aspartame is made of 2 different neurotransmitters, aspartate and glutamate. When the brain gets too much of these substances, it over excites the neurons, killing them. (5) The resulting damage can lead to dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures and depression. (4) Chronic, long term exposure can lead to chronic illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few. (5)
They are made from genetically modified crops–
The main artificial sweeteners, Sucralose, aspartame,, and erythritol can all be made from corn, soy, or sugar beets. The vast percentage of these three crops, in the USA, are genetically modified.
These are just a few of the reasons to avoid them. Listen to Dr. Axe, as he discusses artificial sweeteners.
What are the worst offenders?
- Aspartame- (Nutrasweet)
- Sucralose- (Splenda)
- Acesulfame K (Sunette)
- Saccharin (Sweet n Low)
- Sugar Alcohols (xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol)
So, what are you to do, if you can’t have artificial sweeteners? REMEMBER- stick to food that is as close to the whole food as possible, which means you’ll need to avoid ALL artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Natural sweeteners, such as raw honey, are best.
But, if you’re still looking for zero calorie, cravings aside, Stevia (good brands) is a great alternative. If you do use Stevia to sweeten your tea/coffee, make sure you eat something with it, such as whole grain bread, fruit, or a bit of raw honey along with it, to avoid the craving problems that will arise later.
HOWEVER- Stevia comes from the same family of plants as ragweeds, so…if you have a RAGWEED ALLERGY, you will need to avoid stevia. (Personally-stevia gives me SEVERE migraines and sinus headaches). If you are allergic to Stevia, as I am, beware…Stevia is used to sweeten almost all health shakes, and protein drinks on the market. I typically create my own smoothies to avoid this issue.
If you choose to use stevia, make sure it’s a good source. Just like anything else, there are good types of stevia and bad. Green leaf powder is best, closest to the whole leaf, and has many health benefits. (I’ll touch on this in another article) The worst kinds are the altered versions, such as Truvia, which can barely be considered as Stevia and contain GMO’s.
For more information on the dangers of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, here is a great documentary called SWEET MISERY-
Well, that’s it for this version
of Ultimate Guide to Nutrients.
I’ll touch on Stevia
in greater detail,
in part two of this article.