Artificial Sweeteners
Also Known as Industrial Chemicals

Artificial sweeteners keep us slim and trim; they're good for us;  they don't cause insulin spikes.  Wrong on all counts...wrong, wrong, wrong.  Addicted to diet sodas?  Ever wonder how much aspartame or saccharine or sucrolose ends up in your blood stream?

Yes, they are sweet but artificial sweeteners aren't sugars at all, they are essentially chemical concoctions dreamed up in a laboratory or in some cases, found by accident when the researcher was trying to create something else and happened to discover that the creation was sweet to the taste.

Aspartame

box of Equal packets

Aspartame, found in the little blue packets of Equal and NutraSweet and about 6000 common foods and beverages, including diet sodas, is dangerous to human health. 

<p>Sweet Poison, published by Dr. Janet Hull in 2000/2001 details her own experience in which she almost died from Aspartame poisoning.  She is a certified nutritionist who became gravely ill and discovered aspartame poisoning was to blame.

Her investigation revealed disturbing facts about aspartame hidden from the public since the 1970's — including documents contradicting product safety and the fact that aspartame was originally approved as a drug — not a food additive.

She tells her story and the experiences of others and unveils startling evidence of a cover-up.  She details 92 disease symptoms and syndromes created by aspartame.

Aspartame is a chemically created artificial sweetener that breaks down into several toxic substances while being metabolized in the body. 

How does consuming formaldehyde (embalming agent), formic acid (venom in ant and bee stings), and methanol (wood alcohol) sound?  Those are three of the breakdown products of aspartame. 

Over the years there has been an incredible controversy over the safety of aspertame.  Politics at the highest levels finally resulted in the FDA approval of aspertame in spite of evidence linking it to a very high incidence of brain tumors and neurological conditions. 

The embedded video below tells the story of how aspertame got through the FDA approval process.



Sucralose

Sucralose, more commonly recognized as Splenda in the yellow packet, is generally believed to be a natural sugar substitute.  People using Splenda or other sucralose sweeteners think it's safe and that they are doing something good for themselves. It's not and they are not!

splenda packets

Granted, sucralose starts out as cane sugar but from there it goes through a 5-step process that turns it into a chemical substance containing chlorine atoms in place of three oxygen/hydrogen (hydroxyl) groups.  The makers of sucralose rightly claim that it is made from natural sugar but the end product is far from natural and is not sugar.

box of splenda packets

The FDA approval of sucralose and Splenda was based on rat studies extrapolated to estimate the possible effects on humans.  There are some troubling disconnects between the FDA conclusions and more recent studies on human subjects.

In particular, the continued use of sucralose can reduce the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut, can interfere with the absorption of some medications used in HIV and cancer chemo treatments; and can lessen the glycemic control of diabetic patients.

Furthermore, sucralose is a chemical compound known as a chlorocarbon, used as a pesticide.  Every use of sucralose is the same as ingesting small amounts of pesticide and the long term effects will be unknown until long term studies are conducted on humans.  Chlorocarbons are known to cause organ damage, gene mutations and reproductive disfunctions.

Now having presented the negatives, in all fairness, the forensic techs on CSI or NCIS would be hard pressed to find any conclusive evidence that sucralose or Splenda has harmed anyone.  Nevertheless, knowing how it is produced and considering the circumstantial evidence, we think it is prudent to err on the side of caution, so we will still take a pass on using sucralose.

Saccharin

The artificial sweetener, saccharin, found in the pink Sweet'N Low packets is benzoic sulfimide.  It is bitter, leaves a metallic aftertaste, has no food value, causes bladder cancer and is banned in Canada.  So why in the world would anyone use it?

Most likely because it is about 300 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and the food industry has been successful in masking most of its bitter taste with other chemicals.

box of Sweet One more reason some people might use it is because it was thought to be good for diabetics since it goes through the digestive system without being absorbed. 

Unfortunately it can trigger the release of insulin in humans and rats, most likely due to its sweet taste.
 
To it's credit, the FDA wanted to ban saccharin completely and did so for a short while.  Not surprising, the industry lobbyists descended on Congress with their largess and were successful in getting the legislators (not the FDA) to lift the ban.  Just one more proof that Congress is "for sale".

Ghrelin and Leptin

Earlier it was stated that artificial sweeteners can make us fat.  How can this be so?  They don't have any calories.  The answer lies with two hormones; leptin and ghrelin.  Remember that hormones are the bodies regulators and leptin regulates appetite and metabolism. 

In plain English, leptin signals that brain that the body has had enough to eat so higher levels of leptin will supress appetite.

The hormone ghrelin is the counterpart to leptin.  Ghrelin signals the brain that the body needs food; it stimulates hunger.  Ghrelin levels increase before meals and decrease after meals. 

The problem lies with the sweet taste and the signals that it triggers to the brain.  We are able to experience the "sweet taste" because our brain tells us it's sweet.

What happens with artificial sweeteners is that the brain tells us that they are sweet but it also has the ability to sense that it is not real sugar and therfore has no calories to deal with. 

As such it does not see a need to release leptin to feel satiated so we keep feeling hungry and tend to continue craving food.

On the flip side, ghrelin levels stay high and we experience hunger  The predictable result is weight gain.  A vicious cycle sets in where leptin is released from the added fat cells and continues to rise with each additional pound we gain. 

Ghrelin continues to be released although we are eating more because we become leptin resistant.

It doesn't take too many years before we are 100 pounds overweight and we keep drinking those diet sodas and using the pink, blue or yellow packets in the mistaken belief that we are fighting the weight gain.  In fact the artificial sweeteners are contributing to its cause.

Some Very Good News

The good news is that in the Wall Street Journal of April 1, 2014, it was reported that "The Diet Soda Business is in Freefall".  No, this is not an April Fools joke.  It appears that we are finally starting to wake up to the dangers of artificial sweeteners.

The article reports that "diet sodas represent nearly a third of U.S. soda sales but have posted three straight years of decline.  A growing number of Americans are worried that aspartame and other non-natural sweeteners are unhealthy, despite decades of studies the FDA and other government agencies having found them to be safe.  There is also a debate over how diet drinks might affect metabolism".

It is gratifying to know that the American people are not as stupid as the government, the FDA and soft drink makers think we are.  Now, if only we could teach Congress how to say no to industry lobbyists.

Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic who try to present the pros and cons of using artificial sweeteners. In reading the article it appears that they are trying to be fair but it still seems to be coming down on the side of the FDA who are trying to push the industry argument that such sweeteners are safe, or at least generally regarded as safe. Here's the link, read it and decide for yourself.

Now after all that, if we can't use artificial sweeteners, what can we use?  Obvious!  If we can't use artificial sweeteners, then use natural sugar but use the right ones. 

The right ones won't cause an insulin spike and are thus OK for diabetics.  They won't cause weight gain and they won't play games with brain signals and cause upsets in leptin and ghrelin levels.

Stevia, Trehalose, Inulin are three of the numerous natural sugars that should be considered as a replacement for all the artificial sweeteners and refined table sugar. Navigate to Natural Sugar Alternatives for a description of these three that are readily available as commercially branded products.


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