If sugar is bad for you, then should we use artificial sweeteners?
My advice is NO. Many people turn to artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar. We learned to use these as a way to save calories and thus not gain weight, right? The problem is artificial sweeteners have many downsides, like...
Increased Sugar Cravings & Increase appetite:
In an article by the researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, the authors note that artificial sweeteners may increase sugar cravings and enhance appetite.
The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.
At the University of California-San Diego, researchers performed functional MRI scans as volunteers took small sips of water sweetened with sugar or sucralose. Sugar activated regions of the brain involved in food reward, while sucralose didn’t. It is possible, the authors say, that sucralose “may not fully satisfy a desire for natural caloric sweet ingestion.” So, while sugar signals a positive feeling of reward, artificial sweeteners may not be an effective way to manage a craving for sweets.
Glucose Intoerance and Diabetes
The recent article in the Wall Street Journal (gotta love the media... sometimes!) talks about a study in mice, were artificial sweeteners were found to alter their gut bacteria leading to glucose intolerance. This means poorer regulation of blood sugar and higher blood sugar levels. The authors present evidence from mouse and human studies that artificial sweeteners may be responsible for increasing the obesity epidemic, the exact thing they were developed to fight! This is yet another contributor the mounting evidence against artificial sweeteners.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recommends avoiding sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame K.
So... should we go back to sugar?
In my opinion, it doesn't have to be an either/or... there are OTHER healthy options!
- Snack on fruit (high in fiber, vitamins and minerals!)
- Add dates to your oatmeal or cereal
- Use good quality Stevia for your tea or coffee. I like Sweet Leaf.
- Squeeze some lemon or orange in your water for flavor (and nutrients!)
- Substitute raw honey or maple syrup in your baking.
Lastly, it all comes down to MODERATION, even with these healthy alternatives. If you find yourself craving sweet all the time, something is out of balance. Let's talk! I can help you ditch the sugar cravings!