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Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For You?

Often, people cut down sugar and calories from their diet and start artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes.

Artificial sugar is a synthetic sugar substitute which is derived from naturally occurring substances such as herbs, certain chemicals, and sugar. They can be an attractive alternative to the diet as they do not add calories.

Artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed foods such as soft drinks, jellies, dairy products, canned foods, candy, and puddings.

They are intensely sweet, even more than natural sugar, therefore, to sweeten up something only a small amount is required. Which is why, you end up consuming no calories.(1)

Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For You?

Artificial Sweeteners And Weight

Artificial sugar has no calories. Comparatively the normal sugar gives 16 calories in one teaspoon.

A bottle of cola contains 10 spoons of sugar which mean consuming it can make you gain 160 calories. Replacing regular soft drinks with the sugar-free once can decrease the BMI by 1.3-1.7 points.(2)

Replacing the foods containing sugar with the artificially sweetened ones can help lose weight.

Artificial Sweeteners And Diabetes

Artificial sweeteners are not carbohydrates which mean they do not increase the risk of blood sugar.

They may offer the sweetness of sugar without an accompanying rise in blood sugar.(3, 4)

However, there are many contradictory studies as well which report a risk of developing type2 diabetes on drinking diet soda.(5)

More research and study are yet to be done to observe the effect on diabetics of different populations.

Artificial Sweeteners And Appetite

Artificial sweeteners may increase the appetite and lead to weight gain as it is thought that they might be unable to activate the food reward pathway, which makes you feel satisfied after eating.(6, 7)

Artificial sweeteners are sweet but lack the calories found, which confuses the brain into still feeling hungry. Scientists also believe that you need to eat more artificially sweetened food than food with normal sugar.

Few studies contradict the above and report lesser hunger and calories in the people who replaced sugar foods and beverages with the artificially sweetened alternatives.(8, 9)

Artificial Sweeteners And Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome includes various medical conditions such as high blood sugar, excess belly fats, abnormal cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Drinking artificial beverages show either no or positive effect on metabolic diseases.(10, 11)

Replacing sugary foods with artificially sweetened ones might actually decrease the risk of various medical conditions.

Artificial Sweeteners And Cancer

Various studies and researches have been performed and there is no evidence of a relationship between the artificial sweeteners and risk of cancer.(12, 13)

One animal study found an increase in bladder cancer risk in mice fed with saccharin and cyclamate.(14) However, the metabolism of saccharine is different in mice and humans.

The scientific evidence proves no link between the usage and the risk of cancer in humans.

Artificial Sweeteners And Dental Health

Dental caries or cavities result when the bacteria in the mouth ferment sugar and produce an acid which can damage tooth enamel.

Artificial sweeteners unlike sugar do not react with bacteria and therefore do not cause tooth decay.(15)

FDA also authorizes the products containing sucralose as they are less likely to cause tooth decay.(16)

Artificial sweetener is beneficial for tooth health as it reduces the incidence of tooth decay.

Artificial sweeteners are considered safe for human. They are tested and authorized safe to eat and drink.

Those with a rare metabolic disorder such as phenylketonuria cannot metabolize it and therefore can avoid it. Also, those allergic to saccharine may suffer from breathlessness, rashes or diarrhea, therefore avoiding its consumption is best for them.

Apart from these few risks, artificial sweeteners are completely safe to be used. They reduce the amount of sugar in the diet.

Those experiencing side effects or are not able to tolerate the artificial sweeteners can try some natural artificial sweeteners which can actually be good for them.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 23, 2019

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