You and I both know sugar substitutes don’t work.
And what’s worse, many of us have experienced firsthand how they don’t just fail. But how they can also completely backfire, with us gaining weight instead of losing it.
Artificial sweeteners have been with us one form or another since 1879. It was then that a chemistry research assistant at Johns Hopkins who forgot to wash his hands before lunch accidently discovered the sweet flavor of what we known as saccharin.
Fast forward to today and sugar substitutes have become one of the most common additives in our food supply. The Fake Four saccharine, aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, dominate the market. Along with a handful of others smaller competitors.
These zero calorie sweeteners are advertised as safe for diabetics and the answer to every dieters dream. But the road has been far from smooth.
Sugar substitutes linked to health problems
Research has revealed certain artificial sweeteners may be associated with cancer.
Studies stretching all the way back to the 80s—when many of us were still gulping diet soda from those pink Tab cans—have found connections between sugar substitutes and weight gain.
And researchers have even uncovered links between these sweeteners and diabetes and obesity in the past. In fact, over the years many of the most dedicated artificial sweetener users have found themselves battling both diseases.
But despite the smoking guns, scientists have been unwilling to say these fake sugars cause these conditions.
Well, that is until now. Because a new animal study has them coming closer than ever before.
The research, which had built in safeguards against bias, has scientists admitting sugar replacements can cause health changes which are linked with diabetes and obesity.
In other words, eating a ton of sugar substitutes could be every bit as bad for you as eating the sugar itself.
Which likely won’t surprise many Healthier Talk readers since we’ve been telling you this for years. Besides, if you’ve been a victim of the artificial sweetener swindle yourself it’s probably as plain as the, well, belly around your middle.
New study links sugar substitutes to obesity & diabetes
For the new study, presented at the American Physiological Society annual meeting in April, the team fed lab rats diets which were high in either…
- sugar (glucose or fructose)
- acesulfame potassium (Ace-K or acesulfame K)
The researchers were looking to see what effects all three sweeteners had on cultured cells. As well as how they affected vascular health.
After three weeks, there were clear differences. The concentrations of biochemicals, fats, and amino acids in the blood samples from the critters eating the artificially sweetened chow were significantly different from those eating the sugar sweetened stuff.
The sugar substitutes caused negative changes in how the body was processing fat and energy. In less than a month one of the sweeteners, acesulfame potassium (found in top brands of diet soda), accumulated in the blood causing damage to cells lining the blood vessels.
In other words, they zero-calorie sweeteners triggered the kinds of negative changes which can lead to obesity and diabetes
The researchers still stopped short of telling people to avoid artificial sweeteners. Instead, they said we need further studies to explain the link. And let’s face it that’s likely because of the damage it could do to the sugar substitutes industry, and the corporations making products using them.
But I have zero qualms about doing it myself. Especially not if it can keep people from getting sick and even dying.
Stop using artificial sweeteners.
Two changes to make TODAY
Now the answer, of course isn’t to simply switch to full sugar sodas and other sugar packed products. Although our bodies know how to handle a moderate amount of sugar, eating too much of it is terrible for your health too.
The answer is to make healthier choices, instead. And here are two ways to get started today….
1. Desert Do-Over:
Instead of eating a sugary dessert after dinner every night, try replacing it with something naturally sweet such as a small bowl of berries. Berries aren’t just delicious; they’re heart healthy, packed with cancer fighting antioxidants and other nutrients. They can even help you lose belly fat.
Craving something creamy? Add some plain Greek yogurt to that bowl of berries.
And go ahead and feel free to indulge in a few squares of dark chocolate from time to time. You’ll be satisfying your sweet tooth while getting some extra health benefits.
Hint: Keep a bowl of fresh fruit such as oranges, apples and slightly green bananas out on a counter. According to Cornell University researchers, folks who do this weigh an average 13 pounds less than their peers do.
2. Ditch the diet soda:
Try replacing your diet soda with freshly brewed iced tea. Pick one with a punch of flavor like lemon or mint. Or muddle some fresh mint and add it to the mix. After a small adjustment period, I promise you won’t miss the sugary taste any more.
If you’re craving some fizz, try seltzer or mineral water.
Plain filtered water is a great option too. And if you want to take it to the next level, drop some berries into an ice cube tray, fill it with filtered water and freeze. Then dress up your plain water with frozen fruit cubes.
We don’t need more research to know that sugar substitutes are bad news. The evidence has been stacking up for years. Drop them from your diet today.