The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are artificial.
They’re approved by the FDA as food additives, not food. Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener, was discovered by a chemist searching for a coal tar derivative. He accidentally noticed the sweet taste. Saccharin became widespread in the1960’s and 70’s, appealing to dieters. Although it’s been labeled “Hazardous to Human Health” by the FDA in the past, it is deemed safe and sold as “Sweet ‘N Low.”
After saccharine, marketers created more non-nutritive artificial sweeteners (NAS). They were a dream come true for diabetics and the obese. Usage amongst all segments of the population rose dramatically. Approximately 25% of children and 41% of adults report consuming artificially sweetened foods or beverages.
That percentage represents products known to have NAS. But artificial sweeteners are hidden many products such as toothpastes, chewable vitamins, gum, bread, salad dressing, and more.
Artificial Sweeteners are harmful to human health.
They cause the same diseases we thought they would avoid are ironically the by-product of NAS consumption:
- Weight gain
- Insulin sensitivity
- Cardiovascular issues
These food additives can cause stroke, dementia, depression, and anxiety and make autism worse. Alterations occur in the gut microbiome creating imbalance. Overstimulated brain neurons may die.
The presence of artificial sweeteners is masked by labeling products “Sugar-Free”, “Reduced Sugar” or “Zero Calories.” Consumers believe they’re making the smart choice. And that’s just what marketers want. Certainly names like “Nutrasweet,” “Sugar Twin” and “Splenda” were created to distract us from the fact these are prettily packaged chemical food additives.
The fault is not with the consumer. We’ve become addicted to that sweetness factor.
Have you noticed? You start with one packet of artificial sweetener. Then increase it to two. We crave more and more. At 200-1000 times the sweetness of sugar, our brains are reprogrammed. We anticipate a higher and higher sweetness level. Cravings for carbs and sweets increase. Weight gain and potentially obesity occur….and we thought we were cutting calories.
Our pancreas responds to the extreme sweetness and produces more and more insulin. Insulin resistance, and eventually, diabetes ensues. Diabetes is a major risk for heart disease. NAS products make diabetes worse and make the obese more obese.
There are six different sweeteners currently approved by the FDA. Each results in different illnesses.
Acesulfame Potassium – Sunnett, Sweet One
Aspartame – Nutrasweet, Equal (along with Sucralose, the most harmful).
Aspartame leads to obesity and diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It breaks down into formaldehyde used to preserve dead bodies. Aspartame is a known neurotoxin that is toxic to the brain. It breaks down into particles that can cross the blood-brain barrier causing damage to highly sensitive brain tissue and cells.
Aspartame over-excites brain neurons leading to cell death.
Aspartame has been shown to impair learning and memory even at supposedly safe doses. (2)
Ten thousand individuals report brain and nerve-related complaints to the FDA as a result of diet soda consumption.
Aspartame is the sweetener used most often in diet sodas. In part because of consumer outrage the Coca- Cola Co. replaced aspartame with sucralose in Diet Coke. But we know that Splenda is coated with chlorine. And Aspartame is still included in many diet sodas and sports drinks.
Even within the FDA recommended safe doses, Aspartame causes:
- Abdominal Pain
- Vision Loss
- Oxidative stress (which is implicated in almost every chronic illness including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, neurological and pulmonary diseases.
- Cellular function disrupted leading to inflammation and chronic diseases.
- Tissue and organ injury
Monk Fruit – named after the Buddhist Monks who first cultivated it centuries ago in Southeast Asia. It is derived from “lo han guo,” a small green melon know in traditional Chinese Medicine for its health benefits. Monk Fruit is 150-200 times the sweetness of sugar and is considered safe for diabetics and is effective in aiding weight loss.
Saccharine – Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin
Sucralose – Splenda (along with Aspartame, the most harmful)
Chlorine is impregnated into sucrose, or cane sugar, to make Splenda. The Environmental Protection Agency reports “it is reasonable to expect that human exposure to sucralose via tap water is widespread in the U.S.” Millions of people are consuming chlorine in their drinking water or showering with this known carcinogen.
Stevia/Rebaudioside – A Sweet Leaf, Sun Crystals, Stevia, Truvia, PureVia. Stevia is the least harmful sugar substitute as it is a real food made from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudioside plant. It is the only food on the FDA artificial sweetener approved list.
Advantame – no brand name yet. We know it’s 20,000 times the sweetness of sugar and derived from Aspartame. (I can only imagine the harm of this very extreme sweetener.)
The harmful health consequences of diet soda, according to scientific research:
Stroke or Dementia caused by low and consistent consumption of diet soda.
Recent and consistent consumption of a diet beverage creates a 286% risk of developing these damaging neurological conditions.“This supposedly safe alternative is not so safe,” according to the American Heart Association. (3)
Diet Soda creates Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risks
Routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners is accompanied by an increase in BMI, high blood pressure, obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, according to a large scale analysis of numerous rigid scientific studies.
Diet Soda and Pregnancy Creates More Pre-term Births
According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, pregnant women consuming at least one serving of diet soda a day had a 38% higher risk of delivering prematurely. And pregnant women who consumed four or more diet sodas a day were nearly 80 percent more likely to deliver preterm.
Diet Sodas Adversely Affect the Gut Microbiome
These beverages alter the balance of the microbiome. And an altered microbiome is a key element in the development of excess belly fat, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease. (3)
Artificial Sweeteners and Brain Function
In a study measuring the effects of three sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose) on the brain, it was shown they impaired learning ability. In this animal study, subjects given aspartame were unable to produce as many memory neurons. (4)
Aspartame can elevate the levels of compounds that inhibit the release of neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Further, aspartame elevates cortisol levels, causing the production of excess free radicals. (5)
Gut Microbiome, Adverse Consequences
Consumption of tablets or packets of artificial sweeteners are associated with a higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes when consumed more frequently and over time.
Pain, Bloating, Diarrhea
According to Columbia University, GI pain from bloating and gas can occur, as well as diarrhea may result from using artificial sweeteners. These reactions are attributed to changes in the gut flora.
Responsible for Obesity and Glucose Imbalance
A comprehensive GI study stated that artificial sweeteners contribute to metabolic syndrome and the obesity epidemic changing the microbiome and glucose balance. (6).
Even within FDA Safe Guidelines, Splenda Changes the Bacterial Composition and Decreases the Ability to Absorb Prescription Drugs
Subjects in a 12-week animal study were given sucralose (Splenda.) The result was that many bacterial species were significantly decreased. Drugs were less effective. These reactions occurred at Splenda dosages within the FDA Acceptable Daily Intake, which is based on body weight.(7)
Inflammation and IBD affected by Splenda
In China, after the approval of sucralose, IBD rates rose12 fold. The reason is that Splenda alters the gut microbiome, increases inflammation.
Even if you don’t have time to read these studies (and there are many more), I think you now see the basic idea. Remove these artificial substances from your diet and your body and brain will thank you.
Yours in good health,
Raphael Kellman M.D.
(1)Mawhinney R, Vanderfor Y, Shane A
Artificial Sweetener Sucralose in U.S. Drinking Water SystemEnviron. Sci. Technol.201145208716-8722
Publication Date:August 31, 2011
(2)Choudarey A, Pretrorius E
Revisiting the Safety of Aspartame
Nutr Rev. 2017 Sep 1;75(9):718-730
(3) Pase, M et al
Sugar and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Ischemic Stroke and Dementia
(4)Erbaş O, Erdoğan MA, Khalilnezhad A, et al
Evaluation of long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on rat brain: a biochemical, behavioral, and histological study.
Biochem Mol Toxicol. 2018 Jun;32(6
(5)Choudhary A, Lee Y
Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Jun;21(5):306-316
Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection
(6)Pearlman M, Obert J, Casey, L
The Association Between Artificial Sweeteners and Obesity.
Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2017 Nov 21;19(12):64
(7)Abou-Donia M, El-Masry E, Abdel-Rahman A et al
Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats.
J. Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29.
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