Artificial Sweeteners: Why You Should Think Twice
With all the studies that have come out about it, I’d say most of us are tracking with the fact that too much sugar isn’t good for us.
What a lot of people try to do to cut back on that sweet, sweet sugar is replace it with something else—usually artificial sweeteners, which I am not a fan of.
Artificial sweeteners are man-made from chemicals and go by many names you might recognize: Equal, Sweet‘N Low, Splenda, and so on. But just because they’re low/no cal doesn’t make them better for you.
In fact, for a lot of reasons, they might be worse…
Apparently, the taste of sweet, whether artificial or not, plays a major role in increasing appetite. And the vast majority of artificial sweeteners are super sweet—much sweeter than actual sugar! Normally, you’d think, “Well, that just means a smaller amount will satisfy me! So, I’ll actually be consuming less than I normally would!” Except…this is just not the case. Instead, they seem to have the opposite effect—dulling your taste buds to sweetness and raising your sweetness threshold higher than ever, while at the same time never truly satisfying that craving.
Something to note—it seems multiple large studies conducted over the last 30 years have repeatedly found that artificial sweetener users gained more weight or had higher BMIs than those who didn’t use them.
Adding injury to insult, some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners’ super sweet nature may interfere with the release of the hormones that tell you when you’re full—meaning, your body’s ability to notify your brain that you’ve had enough food is slowed which can lead to overeating without you even realizing it.
But wait—I thought artificial sweeteners were supposed to help me lose weight! And yet… Something just doesn’t add up.
This isn’t even the worst of it, though. Other recent research has shown that artificial sweeteners alter our bodies’ “microbiome,” killing off the essential good bacteria in our gut, which can potentially lead to all kinds of intestinal and digestive issues. In fact—a healthy gut flora is incredibly important for our overall health, not just for our tummies.
To put it plainly—artificial sweeteners may screw with your taste for sweet, your ability to tell when you’re full, and your digestive health.
Other possible side effects include headaches, fatigue, stomach aches, bloating, gas, inflammation, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, dizziness, mood changes, panic, hallucinations, seizures, and brain tumors, while risks include excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and potentially even cancer. Um…YIKES.
Why is it that these artificial sweeteners can affect us like this? Well, it really comes down to the fact that they’re FAKE. They’re man-made chemicals intended to mimic the sugar molecule, but the human body seems to be unable to really digest and use such a processed ingredient. It’s for this reason that I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners or GMO ingredients—I believe that by processing our foods to the point that our bodies are unable to recognize and break them down is of course going to result in feeling crappy—whether that’s feeling a little crappy or a LOT crappy.
It’s why I think that clean eating is SO important and why the 21 Day Meal Plan™ is based around eating real, whole foods that aren’t super processed or loaded with additives.
To continue eating clean while still cutting back on my sugar intake, I personally use stevia or monk fruit-based sweeteners, because these are a natural, safer, and healthier alternative to sugar.
These non-sugar cane sweeteners are both derived from plants, contain no calories, and don’t mess with your blood sugar levels.
They can even have some benefits, like containing anti-oxidants, being anti-inflammatory, fighting fatigue, relieving allergies, and more.
Just make sure that when you’re shopping for a stevia or monk fruit-based sweetener to check the ingredient list—both can sometimes be mixed with other sugars or sweeteners to make them easier to cook with, etc. It’s best to use ones that are purer, without additives.
So, in summary, a few things to keep in mind: Maybe pass on the artificial sweeteners next time; consider using stevia or monk fruit-based sweeteners instead of sugar; and remember, too much of anything is a bad thing!