If you have already overhauled your nutrition and made some significant adjustments to your lifestyle, what I am about to share may seem a bit OTT, but hear me out.
Sweeteners are not benign, and a growing body of evidence shows that they are not inert either.
Many of you who focus on calories will probably use sweeteners in order to your reduce calorie consumption, get your sweet fix and reduce glucose spikes, but the reality is that any sweeteners – artificial or other – and sugar alcohols are just as problematic as sugar. They cannot be used as freely as thought, and are often highly processed and refined, containing chemicals that are unhealthy and counterproductive.
A wide range of studies have been done on testing Non-Nutritive Sweeteners (NNSs) – also called sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners – such as aspartame, saccharin, stevia and sucralose.
It was originally believed that NNSs were biologically inert, meaning they had little impact on the body, and therefore they became and remained a popular substitute for sugar – particularly for managing weight and diabetes.
Studies, however, are reflecting that sweeteners are perhaps not inert after all.
One published in 2014 – Dr. Eran Elinav and in the journal CellTrusted Source – and Dr. Michael Goran, wellness expert in obesity, diabetes and author of Sugarproof who was not involved in this study, has said that NNSs were growing across the food supply for everyone, children and pregnant women too, and felt that the full and long term impact of NNSs had not been studied enough to say that they were inert.
Consider the following areas of concern when consuming sweeteners:
1. Sweeteners can lead to more sugar and hunger cravings
Sweeteners are sugar-like substances that still hit the dopamine receptors in your brain which make you crave sugar. This then means that you don’t get off the constant cycle of craving sweet food cycle. The same goes for hunger, it triggers the part of the brain that further stimulates appetite and makes a person crave for more food.
Dr. Goran said, “None of NNSs will resolve [the] craving for sweet taste and there are studies to suggest that habitual consumption of sweeteners increases overall daily calorie and sugar consumption.”
While there are some sweeteners that don’t raise blood sugar, many of them do – and what they all do is raise insulin. Remember you can burn off excess glucose, but you can’t burn off insulin.
2. Sweeteners can wreak havoc in your gut
How do you truly feel after having sweeteners? Do you have bloating or gas?
Studies by Prof. Tim Spector show that NNSs mess with your gut bacteria, and that changes in the microbiome can alter glycaemic responses. Glucose intolerance was triggered which increases the risk of the issues that one is trying to assist with like diabetes. We also know that imbalances in gut bacteria can also impact your health, immunity, weight and mood.
3. Sweeteners can cause weight gain
There was a great study carried out by researchers from the University of Manitoba’s George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation in Canada who found that NNSs may be linked to risk of weight gain and a greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, and obesity contributes to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Further evidence shows that artificial sweeteners may have the opposite effect on metabolism, leading to weight gain.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, promotes the use of artificial sweeteners as a strategy to manage weight or blood sugar. This is a concern for me.
Dr. Ryan Zarychanski and Dr. Meghan Azad, assistant professors of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, published their research concluding that there was a strong connection between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increase in measures of body weight, BMI, and waist circumference. They also reported a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
“Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products. We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management.” said Dr. Ryan Zarychanski.
And added to that, Dr. Azad said: “Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products.”
So, what can you do?
If you really want to reach your health goals, you should actively try to scale back and stop consuming sweeteners on a regular basis. I notice people who cut sweeteners out show results almost immediately and they report an improvement in their digestion, blood sugar levels, and start to experience weight loss.
As Dr. Elinav says, “Sugar consumption still constitutes a very bad and well-proven health risk for obesity, diabetes, and their health implications, and our findings do not support or promote the consumption of sugar in any form or shape.”
Steer clear of these sweeteners
So, if artificial and natural sweeteners are slowing down your progress (health and more), try to avoid the following:
- Beet Sugar
- Cane Sugar
- Coconut Palm Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Monk Fruit
Respect them, use them occasionally only on special occasions, but if you want to radically transform your health, cut them out. Try it , trust me and report back.
You will finally find weight loss effortless, no more cravings and the taste of real food will be overwhelmingly good plus you will notice your gut is happy.
If you want to wean yourself off sugar, same for sweeteners, read my blog – MY 30-DAY SUGAR DETOX CHALLENGE.