Artificial sweeteners: What is the truth?

25 June 2018

artificial sweeteners

Could the artificial sweetener you rely on to replace sugar in your diet actually cause weight gain instead of the weight loss you were expecting? The answer may be yes, but what is the truth about artificial sweeteners? There is conflicting research surrounding the health benefits of artificially sweeteners. 

Some researches show that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages decreases the intake of calories and stimulate weight loss, whereas other studies say there is no effect when taking artificially sweeteners. On top of that, there are even some studies that say artificial sweeteners will gain you weight. To find out what the truth is about artificial sweeteners, whether it is good or bad for you, read more here!

Artificial sweeteners

Nowadays, artificial sweeteners are found in a large range of different food and beverages, often marketed as “sugar free” or “natural”, and can be seen as synthetic sugar substitutes. These sugar substitutes may be stemming from naturally occurring substances, including sugar itself. Moreover, the sugar substitutes are also known as being “sweeter” because they are many times sweeter than regular sugar. That the topic of sugar substitutes might be confusing, has mainly to do with interpretation. But what is the “truth” about artificial sweeteners?

The effect of artificial sweeteners: good or bad?

Artificial sweeteners have been studied intensely for decades. Critics say that they cause a variety of health problems, which includes cancer. Also, in 2013 there was a study conducted that proved that both beverages, either sugar sweetened or artificially sweetened, are linked with an increased risk of developing diabetes type 2. Another study, one where 3682 individuals have been examined the long-term relationship between their weight and the amount of intake of artificial sweetened beverages, have also proved the risk of developing diabetes type 2.

A big concern about that they affect the ability of the human body to measure the amount of calories that are being consumed. Some studies show that both sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in different ways. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. Even-though, artificial sweeteners are sweet but provided with no calories, it makes us to crave more sweet beverages, which results in an increase of calories. In addition to this, there has been a study presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting, that has also re-confirmed what researches have been thinking for years: artificial sweeteners might actually increase the intake of calories and cause obesity, not prevent it.

To date, the FDA has approved five artificial substitutes, that might be good enough to take in, which are as follows: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.

What is safe?

As mentioned before, multiple studies say that there is a risk of negative effects when taking artificial sweeteners. On the other hand, there are also studies that say this is not the case. This is very confusing to us. A big concern about artificial sweeteners is that they affect the ability of the human body to measure the amount of calories that are being consumed, which results in risks of certain diseases. It is hard to take a point of view whether artificial sweeteners are good or bad. So what is smart to do? To conclude, you can either choose to trust the FDA and check what artificial sweeteners are “safe” and consume that. Another option to play safe is to consume regular sugar instead and pay attention to the amount you take in. Hereby, you will not have to deal with the risk of certain diseases.

Image by SabOlga/ Shutterstock