By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
September 1, 2017
- Low- and no-calorie sweeteners may promote weight gain
- The case against artificial sweeteners
- How to “re-program” your sweet tooth
It’s not uncommon to think that weight-loss will automatically follow when you switch to using a low- or no- calorie sweetener. After all, that’s how they’re advertised, right?
Well, it turns out this may not be the case at all. In fact, consumption of these artificial sweeteners is actually associated with…
- An increase in weight gain
- Greater waist circumference
- A higher incidence of obesity
Not only that but regular use of these fake sugars greatly increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. The risk is so serious that today experts recommend adding health warnings when it comes to promoting artificial sweeteners as “healthy” sugar substitutes.
I constantly warn all of my patients – especially those who are diabetic or overweight – to avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs.
And these are just the first few reasons you should stay away from them. There are also several more.
The Case against Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking it’s going to get a big dose of calorie-rich sugar. So every time you use one, your body is forced to release insulin. Too much insulin revs up your appetite, makes you feel hungrier and causes your body to create fat.
These sweeteners also cause a rapid release of leptin. This is the hormone that sends satiety signals to the brain when you’re full. But when you consistently produce excess amounts of leptin, your body will eventually become resistant to it.
This means the hormone that regulates your appetite ends up racing out of control and “forgets” how to do its job.
To top it off, artificial sweeteners literally destroy the healthy composition of your gut bacteria. They increase the population of microbes that have a negative effect on your metabolism and your general health. These same unhealthy microbes are also very efficient at pulling energy from your food and turning it into fat. That’s the last thing anyone wants.
Additionally, many artificial sweeteners are “neuroexcitotoxins”. They over stimulate neuron receptors which, over time, destroys brain cells.
This over-excitement can cause headaches, insomnia, seizures and other neurological side effects. It can also lead to (along with the gut microbiome deviations) serious health problems such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
As if all of that’s not bad enough, these sweeteners are associated with higher incidence of high blood pressure, cardiovascular events, stroke and dementia.
In other words, they’re doing nothing at all to slim you down. And at the same time, they could be destroying your health. So why are you using them in the first place?
How to “Re-Program” Your Sweet Tooth
Nobody is born with a sweet tooth. It’s something that occurs after years of exposure to sugary foods. This makes it difficult to turn away from sugar, and extremely easy to look for sugar alternatives like NutraSweet or Splenda.
But you aren’t doing yourself any favors by swapping one out for the other. Both of them promote weight gain, insulin problems and other health issues.
Plus, the more of these products you consume – whether it’s table sugar or an artificial sweetener – the more cravings you end up having. So the best thing you can do is “re-program” your body by choosing healthier foods.
Here are just a few examples:
- When you crave something sweet, why not choose something that’s naturally sweet? Buy some fruit and keep it in the refrigerator. Then, every time you feel the need for a sugar-fix, grab a piece of fruit and gnaw on it. (Be sure to buy fruits that you actually like. Otherwise, you’ll never get around to eating them.)
- Soda addict? Try mixing carbonated water with a splash of your favorite fruit juice. Just make sure the juice doesn’t have any added sugars. Or you can add a little flavor with orange or lemon slices, a few raspberries, sliced cucumber or some fresh mint.
- If you like adding sugar to your coffee or tea, replace it with stevia. Stevia is a safe and natural calorie-free sweetener that doesn’t carry any of the risks you find with refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- What to do if you have a crazy urge to cheat? Try a little bit of dark chocolate. It has some pretty hefty heart benefits, so you can enjoy a little indulgence without guilt. Just don’t overdo it. Save it as a special treat, and limit consumption to between 1.5 and 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate a week.
Fagherazzi G, et al. Chronic Consumption of Artificial Sweetener in Packets or Tablets and Type 2 Diabetes Risk: Evidence from the E3N-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study. Ann Nutr Metab. 2017;70(1):51-58.
Azad MB, et a. Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. CMAJ. 2017 Jul 17; 189(28): E929–E939.
Pase MP, et al. Sugar- and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia – A Prospective Cohort Study. Stroke. Published online April 20 2017
Suez J, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 2014 Oct 9;514(7521):181-6.
Humphries P, et al. Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;62(4):451-62.