Are Artificial Sweeteners Worth the Risk? Things You Must Know

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Are Artificial Sweeteners Worth the Risk? Things You Must Know

Who doesn’t like munching on sugary snacks or candies? But if you are someone who does it often, you must know you are simply adding up empty calories in your belly. Foods and drinks loaded with artificial sweeteners pose less severe to significant health threats, including weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. It has also been found that some artificial sweeteners could also be carcinogenic.

Recently, artificial sweeteners have become the most heated topic among people. Some claim that artificial sweeteners harm your blood sugar and gut health, resulting in health conditions as serious as cancer, whereas others consider them safe and can be used to lessen sugar intake and reduce weight. In this article, we will highlight the health effects of artificial sweeteners.

What are Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners, also known as sugar substitutes, are chemicals used to make food and beverages taste sweeter. It is also referred to as an intense sweetener as it provides a similar taste as table sugar but is more intense.

How Do Artificial Sweeteners Work?

The human tongue has many taste buds with different taste receptors that help detect different flavours. The moment you eat, your receptors come into contact with food molecules. That’s when receptors and food molecules signal to the brain to help you identify the taste. For instance, sugar is an ideal food molecule that fits well into taste receptors, helping your brain determine the sweetness. So, even artificial sweeteners are similar to sugar molecules to sit nicely on the sweetness receptor. They give zero calories, as your body can’t break artificial sweeteners down.

>> Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes

Most Common Artificial Sweeteners Used in Foods and Beverages

Many sugar substitutes are used in drinks and foods. Below mentioned is the list of artificial sweeteners that are commonly used-

Aspartame- NutraSweet, Sugar Twin or Equal are the brand names under which aspartame is sold, and it is 200x sweeter than usual sugar.

Acesulfame Potassium- Another name for acesulfame potassium is acesulfame K. It is usually used for baking and cooking. Sunnet or Sweet One are the brand names it is sold under. You will find it 200x sweeter than the usual sugar you take.

Advantame- This sweetener is used in baking and cooking and is 20,000x sweeter than usual sugar.

Sucralose- This sweetener is best suited for baking, cooking and blending with acidic foods. It is known to be 600x sweeter than usual sugar and is sold as Splenda in the market.

You consume the two most common artificial sweeteners almost daily– aspartame and sucralose. There have been various arguments going around these two sugar substitutes. Sucralose's side-effects are that it changes the gut microbiome by reducing the number of good bacteria by half. And recently, aspartame came under the limelight and has been called possibly carcinogenic to humans by WHO.  

The question arises,’ Is aspartame safe?” It has been quite a controversial question. Although all artificial sweeteners have side effects, aspartame is an artificial sweetener consumed in cold drinks, bakery products, candies, chocolate, etc., making it a matter of concern for kids as well as grown-ups. 

All habitual consumers of aspartame through Coke Zero and other tabletop sweeteners should avoid consumption since the argument around it is floating everywhere, and the disadvantages of aspartame could pose health risks.

Top 5 Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

While there is more research needed to confirm how much artificial sweeteners should be taken in a day to be at low risk of having cancer or other severe health risks. Below are the 5 most common health concerns that artificial sweeteners have-

Increased Appetite- Artificial sweeteners activate the brain, which increases appetite, and according to a shred of evidence, consuming aspartame regularly leads to intense sugar cravings and hunger.

Obesity- It is normally assumed that artificial sweeteners help in weight loss or weight management because they have empty calories. However, this misconception has led many to consume diet soda and people, especially children and young adults, started gaining weight. Also, research is going on to get strong evidence of weight gain.

Poor Regulation of Blood Sugar- Although artificial sweeteners do not impact blood sugar levels, there is evidence of increased insulin in the blood. Due to the sweetness, your pancreas may confuse them for sugar, and there is also possible a relationship between excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners and Type 2 diabetes(insulin resistance). Even if artificial sweeteners do not increase blood sugar levels, they will lead to poorly regulated blood sugar. However, more research on this is awaited to understand this better.

Bacteria in Gut- Bacteria in your gut have different reactions to artificial sweeteners than table sugar. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and saccharin change the microbiome in the stomach and have a link to dysbiosis– a condition of good and harmful bacteria imbalance in the gut. This condition leads to the following health issues-

  • Bloating
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Thinning of the intestine walls
  • Migraines
  • Autoimmune conditions

Risk of Metabolic Syndrome- Artificial sweeteners increase the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Several risk factors raise your risk of severe health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and diabetes. Fat around the waistline. These health conditions may happen due to the following reasons- 

  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High Blood Sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • High triglyceride levels

There are potentially various aspartame and sucralose side effects that you may not see now, but in coming years, your health may start experiencing some symptoms of consuming excessive artificial sweeteners.

Once you give up on artificial sweeteners and table sugar, you will start witnessing a major change in your body that will help you keep energetic throughout your day. If you are a diabetic, plenty of natural sweeteners can help you stay healthy, and stevia is the best natural sugar for diabetics, as doctors and dieticians recommend.

If you live a conscious lifestyle and take all the possible precautions due to being diabetic, you are much safer than those who are not diabetic. But do you have health insurance for diabetes that can come handy during unforeseen medical emergencies? If not, it is high time you safeguard yourself with Care’s top-selling healthcare plan–Care Freedom, which protects you against lifestyle conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and BMI.

Disclaimers: The above information is for reference purposes only: Policy Assurance and Claims at the underwriter's discretion.

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