Artificial sweeteners, because they contain no calories, are used in place of sugar to prevent weight gain and diabetes. Unfortunately, they do not provide the benefits attributed to them.
The major artificial sweeteners are Aspartame (Nutrasweet), Sucralose (Splenda), and Saccharin (Sweet “N Low). More than 6000 foods contain these products, and the number is rising. The list includes breads, cereals, sodas, canned products, chewing gum, candy, sauces, soups, jams, jellies, and dried fruits. Twenty percent of the U.S. population, from age 2 on up, consume a diet drink daily.
Nevertheless, weight gain, and resultant diabetes, continue to increase. One third of the population is obese, and 30 million people are diabetic.
Artificial sweeteners are not really healthy. Sweet taste itself enhances appetite, and increases desire for foods that are sweet. Artificial sweeteners, because they are so much sweeter than sugar, may cause greater increases in weight. A study in rats demonstrated higher energy intake and more weight gain when food was supplemented with saccharin in place of glucose. (Nature. 2014; 514(7521): 176-177)
Artificial sweeteners have also been found to alter the composition of intestinal bacteria, and by so doing increase blood sugar levels. In one study, mice fed artificial sweeteners developed higher blood sugar levels than mice that were fed sugar. Antibiotic therapy eliminated the blood sugar elevations. When feces from mice who received artificial sweeteners were transplanted to germ-free mice, blood sugars rose.
A similar study was done in humans. Diets high in artificial sweeteners quickly changed the composition of gut flora, and raised blood sugar levels.
Other toxic effects have been attributed to artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is carcinogenic, and causes developmental defects as well as damage to the nervous system.
For the sake of your weight and blood sugar, and your general health, stay away from artificial sweeteners.
Allan Sosin, MD