The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

You probably know the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially “added sugars” like in soda pop, candy, baked goods, and many commercially-available cereals, just to name a few. Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store

Yes, ingesting refined sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin, and increases your risk for a whole host of issues.

A while ago, one of the food industry’s responses to the demand for lower-calorie foods that still taste great, was artificial sweeteners.

The idea behind them is that you can still get the sweetness, without the calories; like when you have a “diet pop” versus a regular one. Theoretically, this was going to help people maintain a healthy body weight, and hopefully not increase anyone’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

But, it doesn’t always work out the way we think it will…

 

TYPES OF ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

 

Sugar substitutes fall into several categories, but what they all have in common is that they have a sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar.

Today we’ll specifically discuss “artificial sweeteners,” which are synthetic chemicals where a tiny bit tastes very sweet.

They’re also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners,” and include things like:

  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low),
  • Acesulfame potassium,
  • Aspartame (Equal & NutraSweet), and
  • Sucralose (Splenda).

 

HEALTH EFFECTS OF ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

 

Negative health effects from artificial sweeteners are cited all over the place, and while many studies show effects, others don’t. Cancer? Maybe yes, maybe no. Heart disease? Maybe yes, maybe no. Not to mention that much of the research has been on animals, which may or may not translate to people.

I did want to point out one ironic thing, to do with artificial sweeteners and weight.

One study found that people who tend to drink diet sodas have double the risk of gaining weight than those who didn’t.

Another study has shown an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes for those who consume diet drinks every day.

While these results don’t apply equally to everyone, they do somehow seem ironic, don’t they?

 

HOW DO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS AFFECT OUR BODIES?

 

Now that’s a million-dollar question!

There are so many ideas out there to try to explain it, but the reality is we don’t know for sure; plus, it might play out differently in different people.

  • Is it because people feel that they can eat cake because they’ve switched to diet soda?
  • Perhaps it’s because the sweeteners change the taste preferences so that fruit starts to taste worse, and veggies taste terrible?
  • Maybe artificial sweeteners increase our cravings for more (real) sweets?
  • It can be that the sweet taste of these sweeteners signals to our body to release insulin to lower our blood sugar; but, because we didn’t actually ingest sugar, our blood sugar levels get too low, to the point where we get sugar cravings.
  • Some even say (and at least one animal study suggests) that saccharin may inspire addictive tendencies toward it.
  • Maybe there is even a more complex response that involves our gut microbes and how they help to regulate our blood sugar levels.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

Understand that added sugar is not good for you, but the solution may not be to replace them all with artificial sweeteners.

I highly recommend reducing your sugar intake, so you naturally re-train your palate and start enjoying the taste of real food that isn’t overly sweet. This way you’re reducing your intake of added sugar, as well as not needing to replace it with artificial sweeteners.

Try having ½ teaspoon less of sugar in your hot morning drink. Try reducing a ¼ cup of the sugar called for in some recipes. Try diluting juice with water.

Your body will thank you!

 

RECIPE (naturally sweetened): Sweet Enough Matcha Latte

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon matcha powder
1.5 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat almond milk and maple syrup/honey (if using) in a small pot.
  2. Add matcha powder to cup.
  3. When almond milk is hot, add about a ¼ cup to matcha and stir to combine.
  4. Add rest of the milk to cup.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can steep a chai tea bag in the milk if you prefer chai tea over matcha.

References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030

https://authoritynutrition.com/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar-insulin/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-splenda-is-it-safe

https://chriskresser.com/the-unbiased-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners/

About Me


Hi, I’m Tracy! I create food solutions to feed your life goals. I’m a Nutritionist, chocoholic + superhero fan. Mom to three, wife to one, crazy about all four, and food! When you work with me you’ll learn to savour life and nourish all that it has to offer.

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15 hours ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition
Nothing like a simple dinner with minimal ingredients and fresh flavours!

Trying to extend my trip with the flavours of Italy! 🤷🏻‍♀️😉🇮🇹

#foodie #simplerecipes #fresh #cutlets #lemon #foodmadegood #healthyfoodmadeeasy #dinner #paleo #digestionsupport #basil #ontherun #fastfood #healthy

Nothing like a simple dinner with minimal ingredients and fresh flavours!

Trying to extend my trip with the flavours of Italy! 🤷🏻‍♀️😉🇮🇹

#foodie #simplerecipes #fresh #cutlets #lemon #foodmadegood #healthyfoodmadeeasy #dinner #paleo #digestionsupport #basil #ontherun #fastfood #healthy
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Looks delicious 😋!

2 days ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition

Well, that’s a wrap!! Our Italian family adventure has come to an end! The kids are totally bummed 🙁 out that it’s over and I’m elated that they had such a wonderful time and now miss Italy - like I always do. 🇮🇹 🙂

From the southern most point of the heel, all the way up the coast to the beautiful gargano park that is the spur, to the bustling beach side city of Pescara - and a bunch of stops along the way; Veni Vidi Vici! 😉

Here are just a few notes if you decide to venture into the beautiful country that is Italy:

1. If you venture out of the major tourist areas, expect a slower pace of life and stores to be closed in the middle of the day.

2. Don’t expect a grande latte of any sort, it’s espresso after noon only!

3. If you don’t like fish, get over it - you’ll be missing out. The fish in most parts is literally plucked from the sea within days of eating it, you won’t regret it!

4. Italians might be slow paced but you can’t tell from the driving. For some reason they seem like they are in a hurry to get stuff done when they’re on the road. 🚗

5. Bring money for shopping and make sure you have at least 10 pounds to spare in your luggage when you pack for your trip! Can’t even tell you how many shoes were bought for this family!! 👟😆 Luckily I thought ahead! 😊

6. Italians still don’t believe in queuing up, so if you see what should be a line-up but is just a mash up of people and confusion - try and have a sense of humor about it! No sense in getting frustrated about a different way of life on your vacay! But don’t be shy about telling them to get behind you! I did and they did! 😉😆

That’s it! I’m off to plan next years trip. 😉😆🇮🇹

#vacation #italy #familytrip #salento #vacaymode #rome #pescara #food #lecce #familyadventure #beachlife #heartinitaly #summer2019 #foodie #familylife #pizza #pasta #icecream @ Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore Abitazione Parroco
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Beautiful pictures! It looks like an unforgettable time with great memories! So glad you all had a great time!

Beautiful pictures Tracy - and you pretty much summed up Italy the way I remember it 😉

6 days ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition

When folks travel to Italy the one thing you’ll alway hear about is how delicious the food is, or how foods that are not tolerated well in North America feel fine in Italy!

This trip has been no exception!

Food is still extremely valued and Italians don’t mess around with quality and freshness.

Everything we’ve eaten feels like it was picked fresh today. We’ve even eaten chicken from my husbands great-aunts backyard. (Not caught yesterday 😉)

The last picture is a huge rosemary bush that has the most beautiful aroma! 🌱

#chickencoup #tomatoes #eggplant #pomegranate #figtree #rosemary #gardenlife #growyourfood #quality #over #quantity #fresh #italylife @ Manoppello, Italy
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