Recent studies link the use of artificial sweeteners to a 2-fold increase in diabetes. Hard to believe that physicians often advise patients predisposed to diabetes to use artificial sweeteners as a means of prevention! Another example of how being misinformed, about the impact of food and nutrition on our health, does so much harm and is a major contributor to our healthcare crisis.
June 15, 2009—People who use artificial sweeteners are heavier, more likely to have diabetes, and more likely to be insulin-resistant compared with nonusers, according to data presented at ENDO 2009, the 91st annual meeting of The Endocrine Society.
Sugars and other nutrients within the digestive tract activate sweet taste receptors called enteroendocrine cells, leading to the release of hormones like incretin and insulin. These hormones result in increased absorption of glucose and other caloric sugars. Non caloric (artificial) sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose have many of the same effects on these "gut taste receptors" as do energy (calorie) containing sugars.
One theory suggests that ingestion of non caloric (artificial) sweeteners may prepare the gut for the presence of nutrients in the same manner as the nutrients themselves, but in the absence of a source of calories, the balance between taste receptor activation, nutrient assimilation and appetite may be disturbed, leading to an increase in appetite and overeating of unnecessary calories when they are readily available.1
A study analyzed data, from participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), to determine whether weight status and health risk measurements differed among artificial sweetener users and non-artificial sweetener users. The primary sweetener consumed was aspartame followed by saccharine and sucralose. Although the group who used sweeteners was younger and heavier, they did not consume any more calories than those who did not use sweeteners yet they were twice as likely to develop diabetes.2
Other reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners:
- Linked to cancer
- Triggers headaches and migraines
- Causes brain tumors and seizures in animals
All of the possible dangers of artificial sweeteners are still unknown. Utilizing such artificial products is gambling with your health. Aspartame also exposes us to a methyl ester that may have toxic effects. Play it safe and stick to natural foods.
The bottom line here is, try to enjoy your food choices without refined or artificial sweeteners of any kind. Fresh fruit and occasionally dried fruits or ground dates is the safest way to go to satisfy a sweet tooth. I recommend dropping colas, sodas, sweetened teas, and juices—diet or not. If they don't contain artificial sweeteners, they are loaded with sugar. Eat unrefined food and drink water. Melons blended with ice cubes and dates for added sweetness make delicious, cooling summer drinks.
1. Eagan J, Margolskee R. Taste Cells of the Gut and Gastrointestinal Chemosensation. Mol Interv. 2008;8(2) 78-81.
2. ENDO 2009: The Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society: Abstract P2-478. Presented June 11, 2009.
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