Question

Artificial Sweeteners

Why should I avoid artificial sweeteners?

A Answers (3)

  • AElizabeth Boham, MD, MS, RD, Functional Medicine, answered
    Why should I avoid artificial sweeteners?

    You should avoid artificial sweeteners because they don't help you lose weight, and they may put you at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Watch functional medicine expert Elizabeth Boham, MD, explain why you should stay away from these products.  

  • ARose Reisman, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Excess sugar is responsible for weight gain that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. To avoid the negative effects of too much sugar, many have turned to artificial sweeteners. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved both aspartame and saccharine. However, both sweeteners can cause side effects. I don't believe in making these sweeteners part of your daily diet. You'll never lose weight by consuming diet drinks or coffee sweeteners.

    These sweeteners can do two harmful things. They may fool you into thinking that since you've avoided extra calories from sugar you can have extra calories somewhere else. This can lead to unhealthy choices. How often do you see someone in a coffee shop pouring sweetener into their coffee while eating a Danish pastry? Also, a theory among some nutritionists suggests that sweeteners can boost insulin by fooling the body into thinking they're real sugar. Increased insulin makes you hungry sooner and helps your body store extra fat. It's amazing how often I see overweight people using sweetener in their coffee! Two teaspoons of sugar amount to only 32 calories.

    A better choice of sweetener is Splenda, which contains sucralose, the only sweetener made from sugar. Used in baking and cooking it doesn't lose its sweetness, and it's the only sweetener not associated with health problems.
  • AAshley Koff, RD, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharine, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and cyclamate potassium) are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than Mother Nature's sugar, and as such they can prevent you from feeling any sweet satisfaction from real food. If you get used to these little packets (or low-fat, sugar-free packaged goods that contain artificial sweeteners), suddenly fruit and sugar from our Mother doesn't taste so sweet. Studies prove that these sugars can trigger you to overeat.

    One Purdue study in particular found that even though these sweeteners don't contain calories, they cause weight gain in animals. The researchers speculate that the intense sweetness tricks the brain into thinking that calories are on their way when they aren't! The body gets confused, slows metabolism, and ramps up appetite. This imbalance in regulating calories leads to overeating.

    Also, artificial sweeteners are often found in combination with sugar alcohols such as maltitol, sorbitol, glycerol, xylitol, isomalt, and mannitol, among others. Sugar alcohols, which offer sweetness but do not get absorbed, are designed to replace table sugar. Because these molecules technically are not digested, they can linger in the digestive tract for a longer period of time and cause stomach upset in people with sensitive tummies or who consume excessive sugar alcohols.
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How can I substitute an artificial sweetener for sugar when cooking?