Let’s talk about the truth behind artificial sweeteners…the bitter truth.

Though artificial sweeteners have been approved and declared “safe” for human consumption, there are many health risks associated with these pink, blue, and yellow packets. These sweeteners are cropping up in many “healthy” alternatives for sweetened, processed foods….items like sugar free cake mixes, diet sodas, candies, salad dressings, yogurts, you name it. Everywhere. There is even talk of having aspartame put into your everyday gallon of milk, unlabeled, to increase the sweetness in hopes of children choosing white milk over chocolate milk. Now, that is another topic altogether……but it makes my blood boil!

Why are these sweeteners so bad?

Let’s start with aspartame, a substance with a questionable history of FDA approval. When this toxin was first introduced, it was to be a sweetener, not an additive or drug. With a great deal of lobbying (aka…money!!!), the discussions were propelled through the FDA hearings and reports of adverse reactions were pushed aside and ignored. This toxic substance is a known excitotoxin which means that in high doses, it stimulates nerve cells to the point that they are severely damaged or dead. The nerve cells that are primarily targeted are in the spinal cord and brain; the developing brains and nervous systems of young children are the most susceptible to this type of toxin. Of all complaints sent in to the FDA, over 75% of nondrug complaints are from aspartame alone. Known side effects, documented by the FDA include: inability to concentrate, short term memory loss, headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, depression and anxiety, irritability, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, fatigue, difficulty breathing, heart irregularities, and joint pains. Are any of you suffering from any of these symptoms?

But, I want to fit into my skinny jeans….

Guess again. Despite the fact that aspartame has zero calories, clinical studies have shown time and again that they can in fact induce weight gain. Yes, you read that correctly. Your calorie-free sweet treat, diet soda, or “Light and Fit” yogurt can cause weight gain! Researchers believe that since these sweeteners are 1000 times sweeter than table sugar, when you ingest these chemicals, your body expects that sugar is on the way and pumps out insulin and leptin; homones that instruct our bodies to store fat. Other studies have shown that when we ingest large amounts of phenylalanine (a primary ingredient in aspartame), it can drive down hormones that tell us we’re full and trigger food cravings. A study of 80,000 women who used sweeteners were evaluated through the Centers for Disease Control and it was found that they gained rather than lost weight using artificial sweeteners. The evidence is so compelling that the FDA no longer allows food manufacturers to label products containing artificial sweeteners as ‘weight reduction products.”

What about diabetics and blood sugar control?

Nope! A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered some frightening facts. 1) Diet soda raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas. 2) Women who drank one 12 ounce diet soda had a 33% increased risk of type 2 diabetes and women who drank one 20 ounce diet soda had a 66% increased risk. 3) They found that artificial sweeteners increased diabetes independent of body weight……translation: you can be average or low weight and still have the increased risk!!!

While we focused on aspartame specifically, saccharin (Sweet N’ Low) and sucralose (Splenda) have similar studies behind them showing greater weight gain and increased body fat storage.

The bottom line:

These artificial sweeteners are not as sweet as the food manufacturers would like us to think they are. They’re making us sick and fat.

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