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The Low-Down about Artificial Sweeteners

In recent years, sugar has become the subject of many debates. This debate is basically about whether sugar is harmful or healthy. However, a deeper look would show that it’s more than that. Due to this, artificial sweeteners that don’t contain sugar have been developed.


These sugar-free artificial sweeteners have over the years shown not to be what they were expected to be.

This article will show the low-down about artificial sweeteners. It would show how the artificial sweeteners have not lived up to expectations. First, let’s take a ride in history.

Imagine you return back to time and it’s the year 1897. You’re in the lab with a chemistry research assistant who’s named Constantine Fahlberg. He’s working on a preservative to keep food in good condition for a long time.

He tried and tried. He was unsuccessful. Then, he walked home deject that day. But as he was eating his dinner, he tastes something that’s unusually sweeter than whatever he has eaten.

He thought for some time and as a chemist he discovered that the taste is from his hands.
His hands must have been stained by something!

He runs back to the lab. He retraces his steps. He synthesizes again and again. He looks at the record of the previous experiment. He deduces that he has discovered a new substance that is different from what he wanted.

He named the new substance “saccharin” after the Latin word for sweet. That was how he accidentally discovered the first sweeteners.

The history would however not be complete without adding the two great wars to it.

During the First World War, sugar was scarce. Since people like sweet things, something had to be done. Those who need it would need to have it. Europe is the most affected by the war, imported a lot of saccharin. Even Americans embraced saccharin.

When the Second War started, the same cycle returned. Europeans and Americans importing. By the end of the war, Europe and the United States have fallen in love with this artificial sweetener.

Over the years many artificial sweeteners have been developed. Aspartame and many others have been developed over the years. Aspartame history also has a history similar to that of saccharin. Strange history?If you say.

Now that you know their history, you’ll like to know if it makes sense to substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar.

·         WHEN THE CRACK START APPEARING

In the 1960s, researchers began to work. They discovered that saccharin caused cancer in rats and some lab animals. This started a back and forth argument between the Federal Dietary Agency (FDA) and United States Congress.

Since consumers loved saccharin and another choice of artificial sweeteners is not yet available, Congress placed a suspension on FBA’s proposed ban. This is to allow time for more research before it’s banned.

Over the past 40 years, many conflicting studies have been published with some claiming that artificial sweeteners are “potentially helpful”, “potentially unhelpful” and even “unclear effect”.

It is no gainsaying that these studies would be influenced by those who spent the top dollars on research. The artificial sweetener industry is worth billions of dollars. The opponents and proponents of the industry have a lot to spend.

Although artificial sweeteners are carcinogens especially saccharin, it is said that it does not cause cancer in human at the rate at which it is consumed by humans.

Common sense would show that if something is dangerous and you have to will to forego it, you should.

There are other areas where consistent researches have shown that artificial sweeteners are not as saintly as it is claimed to be.

·         WEIGHT GAIN

Advertisers advertise artificial sweeteners as non-nutritive substances that would have no nutritional effect on your body. That’s one of its greatest strength. You would not want to eat something that would add more calories to your body.

However, various studies over the years have shown that it’s not really the calories that are the major cause of increased weight but overeating.

In 2010 Qing Yang did a literature review of previous finding on sugar substitutes and their effects on appetite and weight. What she concluded was that the sweet taste of the sugar substitutes make one to be attached to that flavour that they’ll keep eating or drinking.

She ended by saying “unsweetening the world’s diet may be the key to reversing the world’s obesity epidemic”.

·         NOT HEART-FRIENDLY

In a 2008 San Antonio Heart study that documented weight change in men and women over a seven - to eight year period, it shows that those who drank diet beverages have a higher rate of gaining weight and becoming obese compared to those who don’t take beverages.

Countries like Australia which have reduced the use of natural sugar flavoured beverages have not shown a decrease in obesity and conditions like high blood pressure.

One study shows that women who consumed more than two beverages that contain artificial sweetener have a higher risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular problem. There is also a higher chance of hypertension especially for women who consume artificially-sweetened beverages.

·         INCREASING DIABETES CONDITION?

It was one of the major reasons why artificial sweeteners were developed. Information from Nurse’s Health Study shows that consuming a beverage containing artificial sweetener amplifies the risk of type-2 diabetics. This corroborates a European cancer and nutrition investigation.

Even those with normal weight have a higher risk of type-2 diabetics if they consume an artificially-sweetened beverage first thing in the morning.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While sugar is being demonised and called “white poison”, “white cancer” and other derogatory names, artificial sweeteners are not shown to have the same and even more risks that sugar is thought to represent.

The message to consumers should be on reducing the content of sweetened foods that they consume. For instance, taking too much diet beverages which contain artificial sweeteners have the potential of causing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome changes your natural metabolism that would affect your psychology.

So the next time you want to drink or eat that artificially-sweetened food, ask yourself if it is worth it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Balogun Owomide has a huge passion for spreading motivation, business and personal finance. I often write on my healthy juicing blog. You can reach me on Facebook at Balogun Owomide, twitter and LinkedIn
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