Artificial sweeteners have become dominant in the 21st century. They are in our food our drink and in our supplements. There is a growing concern regarding their widespread usage in particular by young children. These days it is impossible to avoid artificial sweeteners, they are absolutely everywhere. Even health conscious people find them difficult to avoid. I am writing this article not to alarm but to educate. Many of the studies which have been done on these additives are available via the freedom of information act, and anyone who wants to know more about what the research has shown should feel free to do their own investigation. I have chosen to write about a few of the most popular artificial sweeteners, however many more exist.
600 times sweeter than sugar and most commonly known by the brand name Splenda and in the European Union by the moniker E955. Sucralose was first discovered in 1976. It was first approved for human consumption in 1991 by Canada. By 2008 it had been approved for human consumption in over 80 countries. One of the main problems with sucralose is also what makes it safe according to its makers. That problem is that sucralose passes through your gastrointestinal tract undigested. So the theory is or was that it had very little to no effect on the human body. However new studies show that sucralose is actually metabolized by the human body. Several studies have also shown that sucralose actually alters the amount and quality of microflora in our gut, which are essential for a healthy stomach. A recent article in The journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health has also noted that some of the ingested sucralose is metabolized by the body showing that it is not completely inert. Some rodent and human studies have shown that sucralose may alter glucose and insulin levels, of course, more testing is needed but it is of particular importance to people with diabetes that sucralose may not be the answer for people trying to avoid or minimize their sugar intake. There has also been research published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health suggesting that sucralose may be a contributing factor in certain forms of cancer.
Acesulfame Potassium (K)
200 times sweeter than sugar and often seen written as Acesulfame K, Ace-K, or Acesulfame Potassium, known in the European Union as E950. Acesulfame Potassium (K) was first introduced to the public back in 1988. Several potential problems exist with the human consumption of this product. They are based mainly on animal studies as human studies have been minimal, luckily for the humans. The studies have shown that this artificial sweetener apparently caused breast tumors, lung tumors, and various types of organ tumors. Also noted were multiple forms of leukemia as well as respiratory disease. There is also a possible link between Ace-K and something which is called acetoacetamide (which is created in the body as it breaks down Ace-K) which can lead to Thyroid damage. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (Washington D.C. based nonprofit watchdog and consumer advocacy group) is one of the several agencies to say that the current research does not prove Acesulfame Potassium/Ace-K is safe.
A sugar alcohol commonly found in food products along with other similar sugar alcohols such as Sorbitol, Mannitol, Isomalt, and Erythritol. We will discuss Xylitol mainly because of its ever increasing popularity. Sugar alcohol comes from plant products such as fruits and berries, although modern production comes mainly from corn cobs (most likely GMO corn). The carbohydrates inside of them are extracted, chemically altered and voila artificial sweetener.
The main reason Xylitol and other sugar alcohols have been gaining popularity is because they are being marketed as ‘natural’. Xylitol is a derivative of Xylose. Since research and testing began back in the 50’s it has been shown that Xylose cannot be digested by single stomach animals. Consuming Xylose tends to cause gastrointestinal issues in people such as gas, bloating, loose stool, and diarrhea. It has also been reported that Xylitol can raise blood glucose levels, which makes it something diabetics should avoid. Another concern is that Xylitol is created by hydrogenating Xylose. This is a concern because hydrogenated foods are known to cause a litany of problems including, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's disease, and liver dysfunction to name just a few. Xylitol is also extremely toxic to pets, especially dogs.
A plant native to South America named Stevia Rebaudiana which has been used for hundreds of years to help sweeten tea and to make certain medicines taste better. Its raw leaves are 40 times sweeter than sugar but in its refined powered state, it becomes 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
There is some evidence that shows consuming stevia in combination with blood sugar lowering medications can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. Animal studies have shown a correlation between high amounts of stevia and decreased fertility as well as potential genetic mutations in their offspring. Stevia sweeteners contain stevioside which can cause an upset stomach, bloating and nausea. There have been several negative claims made against stevia recently. A few of the claims are that stevia can act as a mutagen and cause cancer, it taxes the adrenal glands, causes hypoglycemia, and has dangerous additives. I have done hours and hours of research and have found nothing to substantiate these claims. In conclusion, I will say that although there have been some negative implications regarding stevia it remains undetermined how dangerous or unhealthy stevia really is. Stevia is of particular interest to me as I have been a long time advocate of this sweetener. So I will keep my ear to the ground and If any new information turns up I will update you all. But for right now I will say that stevia’s safeness is definitely being called into question.
200 times sweeter than sugar. The history of this artificial sweetener is probably the most sinister of the bunch. No other single ingredient has had more money spent on its advertisement. It has been banned by the FDA twice, and only through clandestine subterfuge was it finally able to receive the green light. The FDA’s own toxicologist Dr. Adrian Gross stood up in front of congress and told them that without a doubt aspartame can cause brain tumors and brain cancer. According to the top doctors and researchers who help enforce the Delaney Amendment which forbids putting anything in food which is known to cause cancer have stated that aspartame causes headaches, memory loss, seizures, vision loss, and cancer. It also mimics and worsens the symptoms of diseases like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, ADD, chronic fatigue, diabetes, and depression. In 1980 an FDA board of inquiry report confirmed that aspartame may induce brain tumors. Dr. John Olney, who founded the field of neuroscience called excitotoxicity, made a valiant attempt to prevent aspartame from being approved for human consumption. Dr. Betty Martini, the founder of Mission Possible International, which works with doctors from around the world to get rid of aspartame, has stated that aspartame is a deadly neurotoxic drug masquerading as a safe additive. Recently the EPA (environmental protection agency) has found aspartame to be a potentially dangerous chemical. The overwhelming dangers presented by the consumption of aspartame has been documented by the FDA’s own data. I will not go into the history and criminal conspiracy surrounding aspartame at this time, but I will soon write an in-depth article on aspartame. This additive is without a doubt dangerous and probably the most lethal of the bunch.
I want everyone to keep a few things in mind. Firstly several studies have shown that replacing sugar with low-calorie sweeteners (artificial sweeteners) will not necessarily lead to weight loss. In terms of diabetes, countless diabetics have found ways of dealing with their disease long before artificial sweeteners burst onto the scene. Diabetics should try and find ways of avoiding artificial sweeteners if they can. My grandmother was a type 1 diabetic and she never consumed artificial sweeteners, not once in 80 plus years. Type 2 diabetics do not need to resort to using sugar substitutes either. Type 2 diabetes is not so much a disease as it is a result of poor lifestyle choices. I have treated many type 2 diabetics over the years, and I have found that a combination of good diet and exercise usually suffices to conquer the disease. In my opinion, people are far better off learning to manage their level of sugar intake rather than consuming artificial sweeteners. We are all better off without them. I remember years ago when I was semi-addicted to a powdered drink that was sweetened with one of the aforementioned artificial sweeteners. Eventually, I choose to stop drinking this sweet fruity juice. I stopped cold turkey and ended up having debilitating headaches for nearly a month. It was very scary and it was my introduction to the dangers of artificial sweeteners. Although many agencies claim that artificial sweeteners are safe for human consumption they also stipulate that they are safe in low to moderate amounts. Right now they can be found everywhere and in everything so keeping their intake in the low to the moderate range is becoming more and more difficult. I would recommend people try using raw sugar. It is a less refined type of sugar. It looks a lot like sea salt, large coarse little pebbles.
In my humble opinion, we are all better off avoiding low-calorie artificial sweeteners. We have managed to survive without them for thousands of years, there is no reason we can’t continue to do the same.