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Are There Safe Non-Caloric Artificial Sweeteners (NAS)?

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At first glance, the theory behind non-caloric, artificial sweeteners (NAS) seems brilliant. They offer a sweet taste without calories – BOOM – effortless weight loss without sacrificing your favorite foods and sodas. NAS quickly became some of the most widely used food additives in the world.

Given the choice of regular soda, with almost all its 150 calories coming from sugar, or a diet soda with a somewhat similar taste, but no sugar or calories…c’mon…the choice is clear, right?

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association seem to think so, giving their approval to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners.

They believe that artificial sweeteners can be used in the battle against diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and other heart disease risk factors since they replace food and drinks with added sugars and limit calories.

With the AHA and the ADA giving it a nod, and an okay from the FDA, manufacturers flooded the marketplace, each with their own version of the “next best thing to sugar.”

Some of the better-known high-intensity sweetener brands include Equal® (aspartame), Splenda® (sucralose), and Sweet ‘n Low® (saccharin), among many others.

There’s a Dark Side to Non-Caloric Sweeteners

If you start looking online, however, you’ll begin to see some disturbing studies and research results. Like this one:

“Accumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”[1]

But wait…weren’t those the exact same conditions that the NAS were supposed to PREVENT? Yes, they were. And not only do they not prevent them, according to a Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, “daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.”[2]

Artificial sweeteners can potentially do other damage as well:

  • Trigger glucose intolerance through alteration of gut microbiota
  • Cause you to actually crave more sweets, often resulting in weight gain
  • Interfere with your learned responses that help keep you in homeostasis
  • Impair kidney and liver function
  • Cause migraine headaches
  • Shrink thymus glands
  • Cause mood disorders
  • Be addictive

That last one is rather alarming, don’t you think? Animal studies have been done on rats that suggest it’s true. Rats were given cocaine, then given a choice between the cocaine or saccharin. Believe it or not, most of them chose the saccharin.[3] If you’ve ever tried to give up your diet sodas, you can probably relate.

There are Better, Healthier Alternatives

Fortunately, there are healthier, more natural alternatives to the hyper-sweet, chemical cocktails they call artificial sweeteners. Other options you can choose that will still give you sweet but are actually healthy for you include honey, coconut sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, palm sugar, Yacon syrup, and brown rice syrup, to name a few.

However, if you’re set on using an artificial sweetener, the two safest choices you can make are raw, organic Stevia and raw, organic Monk fruit. Stevia is an herb from South America, where it’s been used for 1,500 years. Not just for sweetening, the stevia plant is used as part of South America’s traditional medicine. It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a bit when using it as a sweetener.

Monk fruit, also known as Lo Han Extract, is found in southern China and northern Thailand and is sweeter than most of the other natural sweeteners and about 300 times sweeter than sugar. Like Stevia, its uses go far beyond just sweetening food and drinks.

Both of these plant-based sweeteners contain numerous healthy nutrients and provide a plethora of healthful benefits to the body. Neither one induces the spike in blood sugar you get when you ingest regular sugar, and they don’t cause the negative changes in your gut bacteria like some of the more high-intensity sweeteners.

This makes Stevia and Monk fruit among the best NAS options you can use for optimum health for you and your family.

The team at OBI BioAesthetic Institute invites you to bridge the best you, from the inside – out. Call today 904-273-5454 to schedule your personalized Aesthetic Medicine consultation with Gerrie M. Obi, MSN, APRN, AGPCNP-BC, CPSN.

[1] https://www.cell.com/trends/endocrinology-metabolism/fulltext/S1043-2760(13)00087-8

[2] http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17668074

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