“Bring me a Coca-Cola Zero please, I’m on a diet.” Typical phrase to deceive yourself, believing that this will compensate for the double meat burger with bacon and fries . However, if sugar is bad, artificial sweeteners are NOT the solution. Contrary to what we have been led to believe all these years, artificial sweeteners do not slow down weight gain, do not always contain fewer calories, and are not a healthy substitute for sugar.
INorganic is ANTInatural
Let’s start from the basics, nothing that is artificial and ultra-processed can be good for our body , and artificial sweeteners are NOT the exception. The ‘trend’ to go back to nature goes beyond a simple fashion, it responds to studies that associate ultra-processed foods (full of additives and subjected to many processes to integrate all those ingredients) with Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCD) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer.
In fact, many nutrition experts prefer the use of natural sweeteners like honey over many of the commercial artificial sweeteners like saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame. And it is that it is not about eating or not calories, it is about taking care of our health . Although some studies are not 100% conclusive, they do associate the consumption of artificial sweeteners with health effects that were not imagined years ago:
May increase appetite
By providing a sweet taste without providing energy, they could interfere with the mechanisms that regulate appetite and satiety. The proposed pathway by which this occurs is p or a conditioned reflex produced when eating “sweet” foods that do not provide calories and that , like sugary products, stimulate the taste buds, activating hormones that increase appetite and, consequently, we eat more.
Pavlov and the dog
Go back to school, do you remember the experiment of Pavlov and the dog? A bell was rung before feeding the animal so that it associated the sound with the action of eating, later showing that the mere fact of ringing the bell already produced salivation in the animal. The same goes for sweeteners! It is proposed that its sweet taste conditions the body to produce a response similar to that produced by eating sugar, favoring the sensation of hunger.
Several studies link the consumption of artificial sweeteners with increased insulin resistance and subsequent development of Type 2 Diabetes (DM2). Several ways are explained:
By activating the conditioned reflex that I explained at the beginning, where ‘the trick’ of consuming sweet to the brain could stimulate a excessive production of insulin (similar to that produced by eating refined sugar), which can exhaust the pancreas.
Through alteration of the intestinal microbiota or second brain , due to the negative influence of some artificial sweeteners, according to various investigations (3). This effect is one of the most delicate since the microbiota is involved in metabolic, immunological, growth and development functions, among others; and its composition and function can be modified through what you eat (2). Sugar, on the other hand, does not generate this effect , this has led to think that sweeteners are even worse than sugar.
May promote cardiovascular disease
There are several studies that link artificial sweeteners with the development of cardiovascular diseases. One of the most recent was a longitudinal study that was published a few months ago, in February 2019, in the medical journal Stroke (4) and covered a population of almost 82 thousand women, where a greater consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was associated with an increased risk of cerebrovascular accident (CVA), coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality.
I am a staunch enemy of sugar, but demonizing it while divinizing artificial sweeteners is NOT the solution, we must go further. It does not matter if a product is marketed without sugar if instead they have a lot of chemicals that are harmful to health, do not get carried away by the false confidence that generates the least calories.
There are no magic solutions, but there are solutions that are in our hands. While eliminating sugar from the diet is essential, stop trying to ‘trick’ your body by using artificial sweeteners; start at once to educate him through the adoption of healthy eating habits. For this, base your diet on fresh foods and begin to reduce the consumption of sweet foods, so that your palate begins to recover its sensitivity natural. If sweetening is necessary, try looking for healthier alternatives like coconut sugar or raw honey.