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Artificial Sweeteners: What Does The Evidence Say?

Dr. Areej Haroon

1 min read

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The advent of artificial sweeteners was a breath of fresh air for the people who were constantly battling obesity, and those were always trying to shed weight—yet not ready to give up the addictive taste of sugar.

The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association both have allowed the use of artificial sweeteners by obese people, diabetics and those battling metabolic syndromes. But are these sweeteners actually bad for health? Read on to find out.

Commonly used sweeteners:

There is a long list of artificial sweeteners now available on the market. Here is a list of ones that are commonly available in the market: aspartame, saccharin, neotame, acesulfame-potassium, sucralose.

Risks and benefits of sugar:

The aforementioned commonly used artificial sweeteners have been researched upon by scientists and they have found them to be generally safe for human consumption. In a few studies on rodents, artificial sweeteners like aspartame have been associated with various cancers. However, the amount of aspartame required to produce a similar effect in humans is much higher.

In effect, the metabolism of aspartame is different between humans and rodents, and thus it is safe to be considered for consumption in the amounts we generally use it in.

Aspartame can be used by all, except for people who suffer from a rare metabolic disorder, known as phenylketonuria. In this disorder, the metabolism of certain amino acids is impaired, and the intake of aspartame can raise dangerously raise the levels of phenylalanine. This, in turn, can cause symptoms that need to be treated quickly.  

The disadvantage of using artificial sweeteners:

Scientists and researchers have their inhibitions when it comes to artificial sweeteners. The reason is their concern that people who use sweeteners replace their calories lost through other sources, and this could offset weight loss and the health benefits of using sweeteners in the first place. According to Dr. David Ludwig, a weight-loss and obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, when people use artificial sweeteners, they tend to opt for higher caloric content food just because in their opinion they are not taking sugar and they deserve the extra calories.

Furthermore, another valid concern of experts and top nutritionists is that artificial sweeteners could help change the way we taste the food. A minuscule amount of artificial sweeteners are much more potent than regular sugar, and as such it could overstimulate sugar receptors from frequent use. This, in turn, may limit the tolerance for other tastes, for instance, other sweet food, such as fruit could be perceived as less appealing.

Additionally, research suggests that the use of sweeteners could prevent us from associating sweetness with calories. This means that in the long run, people would not be ready to give up sugar and sweet-tasting foods.

In conclusion, if taken in moderate amounts, natural sugars like those contained in fruits could be better compared to artificial sweeteners. Moreover, there are exceptions to those who cannot consume artificial sweeteners, such as pregnant women, children and nursing mothers.

If you are looking to lose weight and want an appropriate diet, then reach out to expert nutritionists. Book an appointment with a top nutritionist in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Areej Haroon - Author Dr. Areej Haroon is a Dietitian practicing in Karachi. Dr. Areej Haroon has the following degree: MBBS and has 13 years of experience.She is very passionate about her field and likes to write articles for the sake of educating people
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