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Potential Side Effects of Artificial Sweeteners

By Paul Rothbart

Too much sugar is not good for us. It has excessive calories and can cause weight. High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes. Fortunately, there are artificial sweeteners with low, or even zero calorie content. They are used in diet soda, baked goods, and can be stirred into coffee or tea. Sweetness without the calories, what could be better? But some artificial sweeteners can have harmful side effects you should be aware of. The FDA has approved a long list of artificial sweeteners and for someone in good health, there may not be any problems. But here are some of the harmful side effects that may occur from excessive consumption.

Impact on the Brain

Some research has found that artificial sweeteners may disrupt the hippocampal functions of the brain. Sensitivity to signals becomes impaired and appetite behavior can become dysregulated. This can lead to greater food consumption and thus more calories, which negates the purpose of using artificial sweeteners.

Retrain Taste Buds

Artificial sweeteners can retrain the taste buds in a negative way. They are many times sweeter than natural sugar. The taste buds can be so accustomed to the extreme sweetness that naturally sweet foods such as fruit may not taste as good as they once did. You may not notice the sweetness and foods with a slightly bitter taste may become unbearable. This can ruin the enjoyment of these foods to the extent that they are excluded from the diet. The health benefits will then be lost.

Negative Impact on Gut Health

There are studies that have found that artificial sweeteners can have an adverse effect on the microbiota in the gut. This can lead to metabolic syndrome and obesity. A recent study has linked the alteration of the microbiota caused by artificial sweeteners with impaired glucose tolerance. This condition increases blood sugar levels as well as the risk of diabetes. 

Intestinal Distress

Another study found that artificial sweeteners may cause intestinal issues. They have been shown to abdominal bloating and pain as well as decrease the ability of the body to get the most nutrition from food. Other possible consequences are decreased immune system health and risk of inflammatory disorders.

The intent of artificial sweeteners is a good one. Sweet flavor without the calories. There are many different types and not everyone will experience health problems. But knowing the possible side effects will enable good choices and better decisions concerning the use of sugar substitutes. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractor in New Braunfels, Tex.

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