The increased awareness of the unhealthy effects of eating sugar has fueled a dramatic increase in the production and use of artificial sweeteners. However, according to new research, these sugar replacements can also cause significant health changes linked to Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. In this article, we take a look at what artificial sweeteners are and why they are now linked to diabetes.
What are Artificial Sweeteners?
These are synthetic chemical compounds that stimulate the tongue’s sweet taste receptors. They are often referred to as non-nutritive or zero-calorie sweeteners because they come with zero calories. These days, artificial sweeteners are found everywhere from soft drinks, sports drinks, candies, to flavored yogurts and ice cream. Actually, artificial sweeteners are so popular that there is a 200 percent increase in kids’s use of artificial sweeteners which concerns scientists. You will even find them in such non-food items as toothpaste and chewing gum.
Some examples of artificial sweeteners commonly used today include Neotame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Aspartame, and Acesulfame.
Understanding Artificial Sweeteners
How Artificial Sweeteners are linked to Diabetes
A recent study (https://plan.core-apps.cOm/eb2018/abstract/382e0c7eb95d6e76976fbc663612d58a) published by Experimental Biology in 2018 examined the possible biochemical effects of using artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar. The researchers fed one group of rats with diets high in fructose and glucose and another group with diets high in acesulfame and aspartame, common non-nutritive artificial sweeteners.
After two weeks, the researchers saw a significant difference in the concentration of amino acids, fats, and biochemicals. The results also revealed that the sweeteners change how fat is processed in the body. Acesulfame was seen to accumulate in the body, increasing the risk of harmful effects. According to the researchers, these effects are linked to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. These survey results leads us to the conclusion that Artificial sweeteners can still lead to obesity and diabetes.
In 2009, a study (http://care.diabetesJournals.org/content/32/4/688.full?wptouch_preview_theme=enabled) published by the American Diabetes Association also found similar results. Researchers revealed that people who consumed diet soda regularly are 67% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and 36% more likely to have metabolic syndrome. In general, diet drinks are associated with weight gain. For muscle and strength trainers, artificial sweeteners were also linked to slower development of lean muscle.
In 2014, the International Journal of Science also published research findings (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature13793), which showed that artificial sweeteners increased the risk of diabetes and metabolic disease by changing the macrobiotic makeup in the body.
Brian Hoffmann, PhD., researcher and assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette University, points out that, “if you chronically consume artificial sweeteners, the risk of negative effects on health increases.” This includes the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity. The sweeteners also have a detrimental effect on muscle and strength development, especially for muscle builders.
What if You Stopped Eating Sugar for 14 Days
So What Now? Are There Better Options?
So, how can you avoid gaining weight and fat and having the grave risk of obtaining Type 2 Diabetes? While these foreign substances aren’t benign alternatives to natural sugars, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) suggests that a limit to how much sweeteners you consume daily may be helpful. According to EFSA, 5mg per kg of body weight is okay. Note also that not all artificial sweeteners are harmful. Stevia, for instance, has been linked to an improvement in glucose tolerance, as well as better blood pressure.
The best and healthiest alternatives, however, have to be natural sweeteners. They include agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar, monk fruit mixtures, stevia extracts (Rebiana and Pure Via), date paste, among others.