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The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

By Rachel Carver

You love sugar in your coffee and cereal. But you know this puts you over the recommended 9.5 teaspoons of added sugar you should consume each day. So, you switch to artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners are in everything from coffee creamers to ice cream. They allow you to still enjoy your favorite foods with less added sugar. But are artificial sweeteners actually good for you?

What Are Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are manufactured in a lab. These sugar substitutes are highly processed and 200-600 times sweeter than real sugar, which means you only need a small amount to achieve your desired sweetness. They do not contain any nutrients or calories and are generally labeled as safe.

The Pros

Some common artificial sweeteners used in coffee and baking are (Sweet and Low), Equal, and Splenda. Stevia is another popular sugar substitute, but some people do not view it as an artificial sweetener because it comes from a plant.

Artificial sweeteners do not raise your insulin levels nearly as high as regular sugar. This can help diabetics control their blood sugar. Some believe they can help with weight management because they do not contain calories and added sugar.

The Cons

Switching to artificial sweeteners can leave you feeling unsatisfied, causing you to reach for other high-calorie foods. The sweetness of these sugar substitutes can also change the way we taste food. Using artificial sweeteners consistently over a long period of time can make naturally sweet foods such as fruit less appealing.

Recent studies also link artificial sweeteners to weight gain, eating more food, and alterations in the gut microbiome. These effects are likely a result of the way artificial sweeteners alter taste receptors and the secretion of hormones regulating blood sugar control and our hunger and fullness cues. These sweeteners may also reduce the diversity of gut bacteria, effecting immunity, hormone production, and the digestive system.

The Bottom Line

The health of artificial sweeteners can vary. Diabetics can control their blood sugar with these sweeteners much better than with sugar. However, too much of anything is not the best for our overall health. If you are not diabetic, consider limiting artificial sweeteners because of their mixed reviews. If you use a lot of these sweeteners, it can take some time to reset your taste buds. A gradual cut back of artificial sweeteners can help you become more sensitive to foods with natural sweetness such as fruit. Evaluate your entire diet and decide where you still want to use artificial sweeteners, such as in your morning coffee.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Mukilteo, Wash.

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