The Real Truth on Artificial Sweeteners

May 30, 2016
Healthy Eating

How Sweet It Is

If you’re like me, you like to know how much sugar is in your food or beverage before you consume it. Just recently, the FDA stated that they will require food manufacturers to include added sugars on their ingredient label making it easier for us to understand how much and what we’re putting into our body. Calories from sugar can add up really fast and lead to progressive weight gain and even Type II diabetes. That’s why we all have to eat and drink in moderation and educate ourselves about the ingredients we consume. With the obesity epidemic, several companies started using artificial sweeteners as an alternative to sugar, but that has significantly changed the structure of our food. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes, but may be derived from naturally occurring substances, including herbs or sugar itself. Artificial sweeteners are also known as intense sweeteners because they are many times sweeter than regular sugar.

Source: CBS News

Over the years, there have been many artificial sweeteners that have come out including the more popular brands Equal aka Aspartame®, and Sweet n Low® aka Saccharin. Artificial sweeteners have been scrutinized intensely for decades. Critics of artificial sweeteners even say that they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, and that's largely because of studies dating to the 1970s that linked saccharin to bladder cancer in laboratory rats. But according to the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies, there's no sound scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the U.S. cause cancer or other serious health problems. Actually, numerous research studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities, even for pregnant women.


Since Splenda® became the latest buzz of the ever changing world of artificial sweeteners, it has been flying off the shelves. The new wave of “low sugar” or “no sugar” labels has grown into a billion dollar global industry. If you pick up many food items and look at the ingredient list, more than likely it will have Sucralose. As a matter of fact, if you look on the nutrition ingredient label of any sugar or sugar substitute, of those will end in "ose". Is Splenda® or sucralose really better for you though? I often tell my clients to weigh the pros and cons. Do the side effects of Splenda® bother you? That is for you to answer for yourself, but if you are a diabetic and overweight, the reduction of calories from consuming an artificial sweetener versus sugar could help reduce weight and management of diabetes. Since a lot of Americans are looking to reduce calories and cut sugars, they will continue to resort to simpler solutions such as “diet” and “sugar free”. The good news is, we have several choices including a popular novel sweetener, Stevia®. Even if you choose natural sweeteners such as agave, honey, or molasses, you need to find what works for you and your body. I recommend listening to your body and choosing the best option that’s going to fit your budget, taste, and personal health goals!

Nathan Mikeska, BS, CPT, CHC

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