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How Artificial Sweeteners Fake Out Your Body

How Artificial Sweeteners Fake Out Your Body

In American football, there’s a “fake” happening on almost every play. Whether it’s a head fake, a running fake, or a passing fake, the idea is to trick the defense into going one way, while your offense goes another—and gains yardage.

But if you take in lots of artificial sweetener, you fake your digestive system into believing that you’re giving it calories when you’re not—and all you’ll gain is unwanted weight and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia took a look at what happens in your body when you use a lot of artificial sweeteners for as little as two weeks and found those fakes throw your body’s ability to control blood glucose out-of-whack.

Seems that faking out your endocrine system—“Here, you have fuel. Oh, wait, no you don’t!”—damages your body’s ability to process real sugar properly and increases post-meal blood glucose levels. So when you eat food containing real sugar—naturally found in 100 percent whole grains, fruits and veggies, and crammed into packaged foods and beverages—your system hoards it and gets overwhelmed. That leads to glucose intolerance. Fake sugar substitutes also change the bacteria inside your gut, increasing inflammation and insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is around the corner. Clearly, sugar substitutes lie to your body and no-body likes a liar.

Craving a sweet treat? Enjoy one ounce of 70% cacao dark chocolate and 2-3 servings of fresh fruit.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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