Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners and high-intensity sweeteners, are food additives that mimic the taste of sugar without adding significant calories. They are referred to as non-nutritive because they do not contain any vitamins or minerals and are poorly absorbed by the body, resulting in little to no calories.
Artificial sweeteners are most commonly found in diet soda and other zero-calorie beverages, but they are found in more products than you may recognize. They are found in processed foods such as soft drinks, powdered beverages, candy, energy drinks, baked goods, and some dairy products, as well as supplements, medications, and hygiene products.
Despite numerous studies on artificial sweeteners, many scientists are divided on their safety. More research is needed to determine how artificial sweeteners affect the health conditions listed below. However, preliminary research suggests a link between artificial sweeteners and the following:
According to some studies, artificial sweeteners may activate reward pathways in the brain, causing appetite to increase rather than decrease. When compared to glucose (sugar) or water, consuming aspartame was associated with increased caloric intake, hunger, and sugar cravings, according to this review. Furthermore, animal studies have shown that supplementing with aspartame or saccharin increases appetite and body fat without changing food intake.
Because artificial sweeteners have no calories, most people believe they will aid in weight loss or management. However, one study that followed older Americans for nearly ten years discovered that increased diet soda consumption was associated with an increase in abdominal obesity or body fat around the waist and stomach. A two-year study of elementary school children found that those who drank the most diet soda had a higher BMI (BMI). The study of the relationship between artificial sweeteners and weight gain is still ongoing.
Irregular Blood Sugar:
While artificial sweeteners do not raise blood sugar, they do raise insulin levels. Because of their sweet taste, the pancreas misidentifies them as sugar and releases insulin to help lower blood sugar levels. Due to decreased insulin receptor activity, having frequently elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes over time.
Gut microbes play an important role in our body's numerous chemical processes, including the protection of our digestive system from various infections, the production of nutrients, and the regulation of our defence system. Any disruption can disrupt the balance of good and bad gut bacteria. When consumed, these non-absorbable sweeteners can cause a bacterial imbalance in the gut (dysbiosis). The number of healthy bacteria decreases in dysbiosis, which can lead to a variety of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, celiac disease, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, anxiety, stress, chronic liver diseases, weight gain or loss, fatigue, troubled sleep, and vaginal or rectal itching.
Migraine sufferers are more prone to headaches after consuming artificial sweeteners. "Two of the three randomized studies involving aspartame have shown a positive correlation between the sweetener and headache," Martin writes.
Consuming artificial sweeteners can be enjoyable, but doing so in excess is dangerous due to the differences in how our brains and bodies process these two substances, as well as the potential negative health consequences of either one. Artificial sugar consumption alters the body's ability to process real sugar via changes in the gut microbiota and insulin levels. This can result in negative health outcomes such as type 2 diabetes, while also making people crave more sugar, want to eat more food, and potentially gain more weight. Artificial sweeteners, like so many other things in life, are not without their benefits, but they must be consumed in moderation.
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