Out of 3,000 food additives in the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) database, sugar is used the most. Not surprising, right?
Can you believe that sugar has been called the most dangerous and most addictive drug? According to Psychology Today, eating sugar releases dopamine into an area that’s associated with motivation, novelty, and reward; the same region of the brain that is activated in response to cocaine and heroin.
And sugar is amazingly eight times more addictive than cocaine. Eight times! No wonder it’s so easy to develop a sugar habit!
Yes, sugar adds calories to everything we eat. But, is that a good enough reason to turn to sugar substitutes?
What exactly are sugar substitutes?
Sugar substitutes, also known as high intensity sweeteners and artificial sweeteners, may not be beneficial in helping you to break your sugar addiction if that’s your ultimate goal.
It’s true that artificial sweeteners have no carbohydrates and do not increase blood glucose levels, but their sweetening power can be up to 20,000 times sweeter than regular sugar! Because of this they actually have the potential to increase your sweet tooth.
All artificial sweeteners are chemically made or processed and are regulated by the FDA. There are currently six FDA approved artificial sweeteners on the market: aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, saccharin, and the newest one, advantame. Just to give you an idea of how sweet these substances can be here is a reference chart below along with their brand name, if applicable, and their sweetness intensity:
vs Table Sugar
|Sweet One, Sunett
|Nutrasweet, Equal, Sugar Twin
|Neotame (made from aspartame)
|Sweet and Low, Sweet’N Low, Sweet Twin, Necta Sweet
In addition, the FDA has been asked to grant GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) to two substances in the high intensity sweetener category: steviol glycosides (Stevia extracts) and Luo Han Guo or monk fruit extracts.
vs Table Sugar
|Truvia, PureVia, Enliten
|Luo Han Guo or monk fruit extracts
|Nectresse, Monk Fruit in the Raw, PureLo
Long term effects of artificial sweeteners
Studies leading to FDA approval have ruled out cancer risk, at least in humans. But, the amount of artificial sweeteners used for that clinical testing was far less than the amount consumed by many people in a day. These tests don’t begin to reflect the effect large amounts of these chemicals will have on our bodies over many years.
Use of artificial sweeteners have unfortunately been associated with countless conditions including type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, premature birth, depression, anxiety, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, and weight gain.
Aspartame: the most dangerous artificial sweetener
Recent research has shown the dangers of using artificial sweeteners, with aspartame being considered the most dangerous. Aspartame was approved in 1981 in the United States and is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners. Out of all the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA, aspartame accounts for more than 75 percent.
If you have a condition known as phenylketonuria, or PKU, which is an inherited disorder that increases the levels of a substance called phenylalanine, an amino acid, in the blood, you should avoid all products that contain aspartame as aspartame is 50 percent phenylalanine. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is also wise to avoid products with aspartame.
Methanol (wood alcohol) is a deadly poison and it makes up about 10 percent of aspartame.
Adverse reactions of aspartame include, but are not limited to: headaches, muscle spasms, seizures, memory loss, breathing difficulties, rashes, weight gain, depression, and numbness. Conditions such as brain tumors, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and lymphoma can be triggered or worsened as a result of consuming aspartame.
So, what do you think of artificial sweeteners?