Artificial Sweeteners March 17, 2010Posted by Dreamhealer in Big Pharma.
Artificial sweeteners are big business in the food industry today. Most products that are made with traditional sugar, honey, or high-fructose corn syrup now very well may have a diet or sugar-free counterpart on store shelves. Diet sodas are sold in virtually every flavor now, and there are a plethora of sugar-free products, from candy to breakfast cereal aimed at the diabetic population and the weight-conscious. These artificial sweeteners are taking the place of the more classic and highly caloric sugars, but what is the cost? Are there harmful effects from ingesting these man-made sugars? Are they as safe to eat as the food industry would have us believe? Or, is the deal not quite as genuinely sweet as they would like us to think?
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//We love fake sugar, but does it love us back?
- There are quite a few different artificial sweeteners that are easily recognized by their brand names, but their chemical names generally appear in ingredient lists. They are all approved by the FDA for human consumption–saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, neotame and xylitol. These are the most widely used artificial sweeteners.
- Artificial sweeteners are also known as sugar alcohols. They are much sweeter than sugar, ranging anywhere from 160 to 13,000 times sweeter, so the same level of sweetness is achievable in a product while using only a fraction of the calories. Because it is not sugar, it is not digested and processed by the body in the same way. The sugar alcohol is not able to be absorbed in the intestine completely, so you are not fully absorbing the reduced amount of calories that are added.
- The benefits to artificial sweeteners abound. Watching your weight, but still have a yen for chocolate fudge cake? With these sweeteners, it’s possible to literally have your cake and eat it too. And if you happen to suffer from diabetes, these sweeteners make it possible to satisfy your sweet tooth without a debilitating insulin spike. However, it is also important to pay attention to the overall calories and ingredients in the product. Sugar-free products still contain calories in most cases and may not always be the healthiest choice, regardless of the lack of sugar. A balanced diet full of vegetables and fruit is still recommended over processed foods for weight control.
- Sugar substitutes have been rumored to cause a host of unpleasant side effects, varying in severity from mild intestinal discomfort to migraines to cancer. Ample research to back these claims, however, is not forthcoming at this time. Studies on rats with the sweetener aspartame and saccharine produced a higher rate of cancer in the rats. This has not been proven to correspond in human studies. As of 2009, the FDA remains steadfast that artificial sweeteners are safe when consumed at the recommended dosage, and each sweetener has a multitude of human studies to prove their safety. The National Cancer Institute states, “There is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans.”
- When dealing with artificial sweeteners, moderate consumption is best. The FDA stands behind the safety of the sugar substitutes but also encourages that consumption be limited. Everyone metabolizes food and chemicals differently. So it is of great importance know your body and ingest only what is reasonable and moderate for you. Although the health risks do not seem daunting, research into any side effects or carcinogens in the sweeteners is ongoing.
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