Friday, January 17, 2014

It May Be Time to Abandon Artificial Sweeteners

I have never been a fan of artificially sweetened food products. At first I just wanted things that are delicious, but as I get older I am thinking more and more about my health, and so these decisions are becoming more important. However, I feel that if I am going to put trash in my body, it should at least be delicious.

I find artificial sweeteners to be disgusting. I can pick them out too. When my wife buys something artificially sweetened, sometime on accident, I notice the flavor immediately. Many people claim that they cannot tell the difference in the taste, but I can definitely tell the difference. The worst part, for me, is the horrible aftertaste that artificial sweeteners leave on my tongue.

So when I want to be healthy I consume things that are both healthy and delicious. I can enjoy a glass of water, a plate of broccoli, or use a carrot as a snack with no problem. A lot of more recent research, though, is suggesting that choosing food products sweetened with real sugar may be more healthy than their low-calorie, artificially sweetened counterparts.

In Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, researcher Susan Swithers publishes "Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements" findings that show artificial sweeteners may be messing up our body's ability to properly process real sugar, which she discussed on NPR's Science Friday.

According to Swithers, when our brain detects sugar from smell or taste it tells your digestion system to get ready to start processing the sugar very soon. As most of us know, our bodies ability to properly process sugar is vital to our health. When it cannot process sugar right it can lead to diabetes. When we train our bodies that the sensation of sweet does not equate to the consumption of sugar, our bodies gets tired of your nose and tongue crying wolf and stops directing our digestion system appropriately. When we really do consume sugar our bodies stop processing sugar like it should and, according to Swithers, could be leading to an increased risk of diabetes.

There is also evidence found by researchers at John Hopkins University that those who consume foods using artificial sweeteners may also be making up for the lost calories by consuming them in higher quantities in other foods. There are many reasons why this may be true, but the overall result may not be quite what dieters are looking for.

At the end of the day, if we want to be healthy we need to stop consuming unhealthy foods and switch to more healthy foods. Tea and coffee can be healthy zero-calorie drinks in moderation, for those who simply find moving to drinking more water to be too hard.

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