The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners
By Brad Ter Haar
From the A Longer Life Blog Series
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Most of us love the taste of sweet foods, and we can’t seem to get enough, as our sugar intake has dramatically increased over the past century.
Artificial sweeteners have been viewed by some as a potential means by which we can enjoy sweet tastes, without the consequences of sugar. Many leading experts and nutritionists strongly advise against consuming artificial sweeteners because their side effects and long term impacts are widely unknown.
The research that has been done so far is not promising. Personally, I've always avoided artificial sweeteners, since the research out there isn't yet fully conclusive. If I’m going to indulge in a sugary treat, or sip on a sweet mocha, I make sure artificial sweeteners aren't included.
Saccharin, A.K.A. Sweet and Low, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet
Saccharin was discovered in 1878 by a chemist at Johns Hopkins University, who was experimenting with coal tar derivatives. He discovered one of his compounds tasted sweet, and Saccharin was then introduced to consumers, most commonly known by the brand Sweet and Low.
Studies in the 1960s and 1970s on Saccharin found that rats exposed to the artificial sweetener developed bladder cancer, vascular cancer, and lung cancer, but experts declared that these findings could not be applied to humans, since our bodies are different in many ways.
A British study from the same period discovered that women consuming a daily serving of Saccharin had a higher risk of cancer.
Saccharin has also been linked to a number of allergic reactions, including shortness of breath, skin rashes, diarrhea, and headaches.
A 2008 study from Appetite determined that Saccharin increases insulin levels, which puts people at a higher risk for obesity and diabetes.
Aspartame, A.K.A. Nutrasweet and Equal
Aspartame is the most controversial artificial sweetener and has been around since 1965. It can be found in over 6,000 foods.
Studies concerning the risks associated with aspartame are more extensive and conclusive than studies examining other artificial sweeteners.
One study found those who ingest Aspartame daily are more susceptible to headaches. 200 adults participated in the study, and those who consumed aspartame had more frequent and more severe headaches.
Another study found that those with depression tend to be highly sensitive to Aspartame. The participants’ reactions were so severe, in fact, that the study was cut short.
Researchers found that Aspartame may actually increase your hunger. A study of dieters found that by substituting Aspartame-sweetened drinks for drinks with regular, refined sugars, those drinking the Aspartame-based drinks reported feeling hungrier and eating more calories.
Sucralose, A.K.A. Splenda
Sucralose, known by most as Splenda, has been around since the late 1990s Researchers attempting to create a new insecticide invented Sucralose on accident.
This artificial sweetener has been around for only a little over a decade, so it has not been researched as extensively as other artificial sweeteners.
One of the possible risks of Sucralose is prenatal complications. Organic compounds that have been chlorinated are often related to birth defects and other prenatal complications. Although evidence directly linking Sucralose to prenatal problems has not been fully explored, experts advise pregnant mothers to avoid the sweetner, since data has not yet been conclusive one way or the other.
Chlorinated organic compounds like Sucralose have also been known to negatively affect the body’s immune system. Again, while studies have not linked Sucralose to immune system impairments, many experts suggest avoiding this artificial sweetener until more research is conducted.