Artificial Sweeteners - Why You Should Avoid Them
Many sweeteners have more side effects than you may think. Sadly, just because something is FDA approved for consumption, does not really make it safe to consume.
For each sweetener, the FDA establishes an acceptable daily intake (ADI) which is the amount of sweetener thought to be safe to consume every day for a lifetime. Because the FDA does not require manufacturers to report the actual amounts of sweeteners contained in foods and beverages, quantification of the precise amount of sweeteners present in the food is difficult.(1)
Artificial sweeteners can cause you to be addicted to overly sweet foods by conditioning your taste buds to want more sweet foods. Consuming large amounts of sweet food can cause type 2 diabetes, candida overgrowth, obesity, kidney damage, and many other diseases.
The most common foods that contain artificial sweeteners are: salad dressings, chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, cereal, yogurt, coffee creamers, zero-calorie drinks, diet beverages, and the list goes on.
THREE of the most common artificial sweeteners:
1) Aspartame is used in over 6,500 food, drink and medications. It has been found to possibly impair memory and increase oxidative stress in the brain. Animal studies have shown that long-term consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), particularly aspartame, may predispose offspring to develop obesity and metabolic syndrome later in life.
Common side effects of aspartame include: headaches, migraines, emotional disorders, dizziness and weight gain.(2)(3)(4)
2) Sucralose is derived from sugar but is far from “natural.”
Sucralose is a chlorinated sucrose. In other words, three chlorine molecules are added to the sugar molecule to make sucralose. Because it is now a molecule that does not exist in nature, the body can’t metabolize it. That is why it has zero calories. Studies show that sucralose (also known as Splenda) can reduce the beneficial bacteria in your gut, increase the pH level in your intestines, spike insulin levels, and even cause cancer. (5)
3) Saccharin, also known as Sweet N’ Low, was shown to cause bladder cancer in lab rats. When introduced in the early 1970’s, the FDA still approved it safe for consumption. Because the bladder tumors seen in rats are due to a mechanism not relevant to humans and because there was no clear evidence that saccharin causes cancer in humans, saccharin was delisted in 2000 from the U.S. National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens.
In addition to being a carcinogen, saccharin induced liver inflammation in mice by altering the gut microbiota and its metabolic functions (8) Bloating, nausea, dizziness and muscle pain are just some of the reported side effects in humans.
So what now?
The most important thing you can do is to retrain your brain and palate. Vanilla, cocoa, licorice, nutmeg and cinnamon enhance the flavor of foods.
Get creative with your sweet cravings. There are a ton of recipes out there for healthy alternatives. One of my favorite things to make are dark chocolate nut butter cups (yum! Recipe below). They are made with maple syrup, but you CAN substitute it with Stevia. If you are using stevia make sure it is unaltered. Stevia should still be consumed in moderation, just like sugar.
Top 10 Natural Sweeteners (9)
Raw Honey (1 tablespoon – 64 calories, 17g sugar)
Stevia (0 calories)
Dates (1 Medjool Date – 66 calories, 16g sugar
Coconut Sugar (1 tablespoon – 45 calories, 9g sugar)
Maple Syrup (1 tablespoon – 52 calories, 14g sugar)
Blackstrap Molasses (1 tablespoon – 47 calories, 12g sugar)
Balsamic Glaze (1 tablespoon – 20-40 calories depending on thickness)
Banana Puree (1 cup – 200 calories, 18g sugar)
Brown Rice Syrup (1 tablespoon – 55 calories, 12.5g sugar)
Real Fruit Jam (varies depending on fruit)
Dark chocolate nut butter cups
⅔ cup coconut oil (raw, unrefined)
⅔ cup cocoa powder
2-3 tbs real maple syrup
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup nut butter of your choice
Small cupcake papers
Step 1: melt (on very low heat) in a small pot the coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla. Stir constantly until all ingredients are mixed well.
Step 2: Place cupcake papers on a rigid flat pan or glass container if you don't have a mini muffin pan. Pour ½ of the mixture into the small paper cupcake holders; filling only ⅓ of the way full and place in freezer for 20 minutes
Step 3: stir the nut butter until it is as smooth as possible
Step 4: take the mixture out of the freezer and add a layer to the top of the mixture
Step 5: pour the remaining mixture over the nut butter and put back in the freezer for 20 minutes
NOTE: Get creative. It is really hard to mess these up! Store in the refrigerator because they will melt at room temperature.
Audrey is an ISSA, USAKL and Crossfit Level 1 certified fitness trainer specializing in kettlebells. She's developed group and personalized training programs for children and adults in weightlifting technique, kettlebell lifting & kettlebell sport. She's all about helping people not only reach their physical training goals but mental and emotional as well. Body-wellness is a key ingredient towards a healthier and happier you.