Medical Research
Global Health
Silver Linings
Contest
Press Releases
Home » Featured, Life Style

Artificial Sweeteners—Are They Really Sweet?

Submitted by on January 9, 2017 – 5:08 AM

deadly-artificial-sweeteners1Would you like to hazard a guess at one of the biggest struggles of a diabetic? It is, in fact, to refrain from sugary items. Now, however, with the development of such a wide variety of artificial sweeteners, this problem is only a matter of the past.

As the world heads towards an era of commercialization, more and more people are opting for artificial sweeteners in place of natural sugar to cut down calories and maintain a ‘healthy’ and ‘perfect’ physique. For this reason, artificial sweeteners are now considered our saving grace.  In both industry and society, they are the saviors that protect us from so many dietary troubles.

 

However, the age-old debate over the effectiveness of artificial sweeteners versus that of natural sweeteners and their merits and demerits continues still, even after US FDA has approved the use of these sweeteners in our diet. In spite of the FDA’s approval in light of research and clinical data, further trials have nonetheless come forward to show otherwise. Furthermore, people regard or disregard these substances according to their own experiences. As we all know, artificial sweeteners help to control weight, reduce obesity and imitate sugars when we cannot consume them for any reason. They are also considered safe to use during pregnancy. It’s the negative side that we are unaware of. Let us have a look.

 

Dr. David A. Johnson from Eastern Virginia Medical School demonstrated an experiment in which artificial sweeteners were fed to group of mice, while a control group was fed a normal diet. It was found that the group having taken artificial sweeteners showed poor glycemic control (levels of sugars in the blood). Hence it was deduced that, in spite of the sweeteners being non-caloric, the ultimate result was worse as these mice had comparatively higher blood sugar levels.

 

To expand on in-depth results, the mice fed artificial sweeteners showed an increase in the glycan degradation pathway as well as upregulation of other pathways that increase metabolism of mannose, sucrose, fructose and fatty acids. This was especially pronounced in case of saccharin (an artificial sweetener). All these effects are actually a step-up towards increased blood levels of sugars and fats, thereby leading to development of diabetes and obesity; the product that initially aimed to cut down on calories actually boosts them up.

 

The story doesn’t end here. Similar experiments were conducted among humans and the results were quite similar. Increases in hemoglobin A1c were detected (increased hemoglobin A1c is related to impaired glucose metabolism, predisposing towards diabetes). More people using artificial sweeteners were seen to have reduced glucose tolerance, impaired fasting glucose, and increased body weight and waist-to-hip ratios. They were more prone to development of prediabetes (a condition that predisposes to the development of diabetes in later life) and metabolic syndrome.

 

This series of unfortunate events related to the intake of artificial sweeteners was luckily found to be reversible, with the process halting and going back to its initial stage when the use of artificial sweeteners was suspended. Congratulations to all those worried for their health up till now!

 

Nevertheless, it should be remembered that all the above research data can be countered by other data supporting the effectiveness of artificial sweeteners. Still, personal experiences have hinted that people who do consume such sweeteners tend to develop bloating and diarrhea afterwards. This is because these sweeteners are not natural and therefore not readily digested, thereby lying in the gut for longer periods and increasing osmolality, leading to cramping and bloating. Artificial sweeteners have also been linked to diseases including genetic mutations and cancers. Research and data have nullified this argument, but as per the old adage ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’, this point should still be kept in mind.

 

With sweeteners being artificial, the human brain is not accustomed to them and does not react in the same way as it does to natural sugars. This increases the sugar craving even more, leading to increased caloric intake. Additionally, these artificial sugars have a more intense flavor and can cause dullness in the effect of natural fruit sugars.

 

Critics have also pointed out that these sweeteners are not nutritive. Being low in calories, they are merely stuffed with flavor and have no nutritional value. So what’s the point of consuming something that doesn’t provide you with any significant nutrition? Some also say that no matter how safe these sweeteners claim to be, at the end of the day they are artificial, and artificial substances can never beat the natural; they are designed artificially with artificial chemicals which the human body is not programmed to digest. The human body is a natural phenomenon and accommodates natural ingredients. Anything that deviates from this is eventually going to cause problems.

 

To conclude, artificial sweeteners may look a sweet deal, but there is research and clinical data suggesting both their merits and demerits. With the world moving towards a sedentary lifestyle and favouring the use of such sweeteners, it is necessary to weigh their pros and cons together before depending on them. We must ask ourselves—can these sweeteners really outweigh natural sugars? Everything comes with its baggage—what is theirs? The answer may not lie along a straightforward path, but searching and experimentation is key to the very lifestyle we are trying to adopt by using artificial sweeteners. Until these answers are not provided, the end note will probably hail towards old friendly advice: ‘What about traditional ways of curtailing calories?’

 

Reference:

  1. Artificial Sweeteners: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?. Medscape. Mar 22, 2016.
  2. Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes. Mayo Clinic. Aug 20, 2015
  3. 7 Advantages and Disadvantages of Artificial Sweeteners. Connect US, The Global Issues Blog. http://connectusfund.org/7-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-artificial-sweeteners

 

 

 

Join JPMS Medical Blogs Team as Editor or Contributor, email your cover letter and resume to blogs@jpmsonline.com

We welcome Guest posts. Submit online via: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/submit/

We also publish Sponsored Articles. For details email us at blogs@jpmsonline.com or follow the link for details: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/sponsor/

Disclaimer: JPMS Medical Blogs are published by the same publisher of Journal of Pakistan Medical Students (JPMS). This article does not reflect the policies of JPMS or its Staff or Editorial nor it intends to provide legal, financial or medical advice. Refer to Disclaimer and Policies section for more details.

Advertisement: Call for Papers for Journal of Pakistan Medical Students (www.jpmsonline.com): Submit Original Article, Review Article, Case Report, Letter to the Editor, News Article, Clinical Images, Perspectives or Elective Report to JPMS. We also publish Conference Proceedings and Conference Abstracts as Supplement. No paper submission or publication charges. Submit your articles online (click here) or send it as an Email to: editor@jpmsonline.com

 

 

 

Join JPMS Medical Blogs Team as Editor or Contributor, email your cover letter and resume to blogs@jpmsonline.com


We welcome Guest posts. Submit online via: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/submit/


We also publish Sponsored Articles. For details email us at blogs@jpmsonline.com or follow the link for details: http://blogs.jpmsonline.com/sponsor/


Disclaimer: 
JPMS Medical Blogs are published by the publisher of Journal of Pioneering Medical Sciences (JPMS). This article does not reflect the policies of JPMS or its Staff or Editorial nor does it intend to provide legal, financial or medical advice. Refer to Disclaimer and Policies section for more details.

 

Advertisement: Call for Papers for Journal of Pioneering Medical Sciences (www.jpmsonline.com): Submit Original Article, Review Article, Case Report, Letter to the Editor, News Article, Clinical Images, Perspectives or Elective Report to JPMS. We also publish Conference Proceedings and Conference Abstracts as Supplement. No paper submission or publication charges. Submit your articles online (click here) or send them as an Email to: editor@jpmsonline.com

No related content found.

Tags: , , , , , , ,