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Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?

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Old 03-12-2012, 02:18 AM   #1
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Default Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?

I recently purchased a pack of artificial sweeteners called Lo-Kal which has Asparatame. I read on the internet (after buying the sweetener) that Asparatame is not good for your health.

I got the artificial sweetener to add to the lime juice that I drink almost everyday (once a day). I am trying to lose weight and I add the artificial sweetener to the juice hoping it'll have a positive effect on my body. Please let me know if its safe to consume and if it would help me lose weight or not. Thank you

Oh and I stopped drinking Diet Coke because I read this article that it increases the fat levels in your tummy area. Is it true?
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:15 AM   #2
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yes - artificial sweeteners DO lead to weight gain, esp diet pop. chemical sweeteners are cumulative - they build up in your body - and they have all kinds of nasty potential side effects including liver damage and cancer.

if you need to/want to eliminate sugar, your best bet is a) retrain your taste buds so you just don't want it any more or b) buy stevia.

stevia is natural and has been used for centuries with no ill effects (you can grow it in your own garden):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

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Old 03-12-2012, 11:22 AM   #3
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Oh my gosh!! I'll throw it away ASAP! Thank you so much for your reply
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:13 PM   #4
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There isn't any peer reviewed research to support what Threenorns said, at least that I'm aware of. Aspartame is one of the most studied molecules in the food supply, and no scientifically valid study has ever found any sort of long term health effect to using it. The FDA and equivalent departments of 90 other countries around the world have deemed it safe for consumption. There is one batch of studies that was fairly recent and did purport to show that there were health risks in rats with aspartame consumption, but that study had a LOT of methodological flaws that made the results extremely questionable.

That said, there are studies that correlated higher weights with aspartame. One thing to consider there is the difference between a correlation and a causation. What we know is that people who use artificial sweeteners tend to weigh more...that's all we know. We don't know if it's the artificial sweetener CAUSING the person to weigh more, or if when people weigh more, they are more likely to use artificial sweeteners. The only way to know that they CAUSED weight gain would be to do a double-blind trial - put some people in the study, control everything they eat, give half of them drinks with stevia and half with aspartame, and see who gains weight. Such a study hasn't been done, that I'm aware of.

The bottom line - this is a decision you're going to have to make for yourself based on your own research - there is no "right" or "wrong", clear-cut answer here. There is a great summary of the controversy around aspartame here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy

There are other artificial sweeteners, including Splenda and saccharine, that are used and widely available, and all of them have been researched for safety, with various results.
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:46 PM   #5
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the FDA says a lot of things are safe for human consumption - hard to take them seriously considering how many on the board are employees or former employers of major manufacturers such as monsanto.

"A study presented at a American Diabetes Association meeting this week shows that drinking diet soda is associated with a wider waist in humans. And a second study shows that aspartame -- an artificial sweetener in diet soda -- actually raises blood sugar in mice prone to diabetes. "

the rest of it is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/0..._n_886409.html



"Acesulfame K: What are the pros?


Acesulfame K has been an approved sweetener since 1988, and yet most people are not even aware that this is an artificial sweetener being used in their food and beverages. It is listed in the ingredients on the food label as acesulfame K, acesulfame potassium, Ace-K, or Sunett. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and is often used as a flavor-enhancer or to preserve the sweetness of sweet foods. The FDA has set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of up to 15 mg/kg of body weight/day.



Acesulfame K: What are the cons?


The problems surrounding acesulfame K are based on the improper testing and lack of long-term studies. Acesulfame K contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer in humans. There has been a great deal of opposition to the use of acesulfame K without further testing, but at this time, the FDA has not required that these tests be done."

http://www.medicinenet.com/artificia...ers/page10.htm


about aspartame specifically:

"Industry conspiracies: Conflicts of interest in the studies performed on aspartame and the way in which its approval was obtained is an ongoing controversy. Dr. Robert Walton surveyed the studies of aspartame in the peer-reviewed medical literature. He states that of the 166 studies felt to have relevance for questions of human safety, 74 had Nutrasweet industry (those who make aspartame) related funding and 92 were independently funded. One hundred percent of the research performed by the company who makes aspartame confirmed aspartame's safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research found problems with consuming aspartame. Other reports of federal employees working for the companies responsible for the testing and distribution of aspartame are cited on all of the sites and books opposing the use of aspartame.

Aspartame disease: H.J. Roberts, MD, coined the term "aspartame disease" in a book filled with over 1,000 pages of information about the negative health consequences of ingesting aspartame. Dr. Roberts reports that by 1998, aspartame products were the cause of 80% of complaints to the FDA about food additives. Some of these symptoms include headache, dizziness, change in mood, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, change in vision, diarrhea, seizures/convulsions, memory loss, and fatigue. Along with these symptoms, links to aspartame are made for fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, tinnitus, joint pain, unexplainable depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, and various cancers. While the FDA has assured us that the research does not show any adverse health complications from aspartame, there has been some evidence to suggest that some of the following symptoms can be related to aspartame.

Headaches: One study confirmed that individuals with self-reported headaches after the ingestion of aspartame were in deed susceptible to headaches due to aspartame. Three randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with more than 200 adult migraine sufferers showed that headaches were more frequent and more severe in the aspartame-treated group.

Depression: In a study of the effect of aspartame on 40 patients with depression, the study was cut short due to the severity of reactions within the first 13 patients tested. The outcome showed that individuals with mood disorders were particularly sensitive to aspartame and recommended that it be avoided by them.

Cancer: In an initial study, 12 rats out of 320 developed malignant brain tumors after receiving aspartame in an FDA trial. There have been other studies to both support and contradict this finding. A recent study, conducted by Italian and French researchers indicates there is no association between low-calorie sweeteners and cancer. The researchers evaluated a variety of studies between the years of 1991 and 2004. These studies assessed the relationship between low-calorie sweeteners and many cancers, including oral and pharynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, larynx, breast, ovary, prostate, and renal cell carcinomas. The researchers examined the eating habits of more than 7,000 men and women in their middle ages (mainly 55 years and over). Based on the data evaluated, there was no evidence that saccharin or other sweeteners (mainly aspartame) increase the risk of cancer at several common sites in humans. The debate continues while more research is conducted.

Increased hunger: A study done with 14 dieters comparing the effects of aspartame-sweetened and sucrose-sweetened soft drinks on food intake and appetite ratings found that substituting diet drinks for sucrose-sweetened ones did not reduce total calorie intake and may even have resulted in a higher intake on subsequent days. In another study of 42 males given aspartame in diet lemonade versus sucrose-sweetened lemonade, there was no increase in hunger ratings or food intake with the diet group. Weight loss results from consuming fewer calories than your body needs. When you replace a caloric beverage with a noncaloric beverage, you will be saving calories and could lose weight if it is enough calories to put you in a negative balance. For aspartame to increase weight, there would have to be something else going on. There is not enough research to determine if something does exist so the jury is still out on this one. "


http://www.medicinenet.com/artificia...ners/page8.htm

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Old 03-12-2012, 04:55 PM   #6
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Ace K and aspartame are different chemicals, so two of your links aren't directly related to the OP's question. Again, I'd recommend doing research on each artificial sweetener you are considering using. Ace K is another one, it's often combined with Splenda in products, so check for it if you want to avoid it.

I'd agree with you if only one group had found aspartame safe (I'm no big fan of the US FDA either). But that doesn't explain the 90 other countries who have also declared it safe, many of whom have much, much stricter food safety standards than we do. French authorities affirmed the safety of aspartame as recently as 2011. The entire EU (which again, is a lot stricter on food safety than the FDA) has established acceptable doses of aspartame to be close to those in the US (I think the daily acceptable limit in the EU is a bit lower, 40 mg/kg to 50 mg/kg if I'm remember correctly).

I don't disagree that larger waists and, in fact, weight gain are correlated with artificial sweetener use. But correlation can't answer the question of cause. In other words, people with larger waists might use more artificial sweeteners in an effort to make their waists smaller, or people who use artificial sweeteners might be influenced to eat more than the otherwise might...neither of those would mean that aspartame caused the waist or weight gain. That's the limitation of a study on correlation.

I'd love to read the original mouse study you mentioned. The press release from the researchers mentions "heavy aspartame use", so I wonder particularly about dosing there.

I am not advocating artificial sweeteners, by the way. My personal consumption choices and research have caused me to limit most of them from my diet. But the research simply isn't there to directly link them to causing obesity or larger waists, or to say that in normal/moderate doses, they have any significant health effects.
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Old 03-12-2012, 05:39 PM   #7
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the logic flies:

the first step in digestion is taste.

when you taste food, it sets of a chain of events. if you taste "sweet", your body begins to mobilise insulin.

so here you intake a chemical that is radically sweet but doesn't actually have any bioavailable sugars. the insulin comes in - and there's nothing there so now there's an insulin reaction leading to cravings and a subsequent binge.

it's like all those fat-reduced yoghurts: i do WAY better with the full-fat yoghurt because i can eat one at 110cal and feel satisfied. those fat-free yoghurts at 40 per, i have to down 4 or 5 of them to get the same feeling that i've actually consumed something in the last little while. doesn't matter if they're fat-free, i've still knocked back 50-90 extra calories.

fat-free/sugar-free/"guilt-free" (LOVE that label, don't i just) is just a mind game played by companies to get us buying their stuff.

do you know how easy it to bake bread? flour, water, salt, yeast - that's ALL. you don't need anything else, not even sugar.

brown sugar - it's white sugar in a food processor with molasses.

butter - get some whipping cream, put it in a jar, shake the living daylights out of it for about 10min, put it in a bowl, rinse under cold running water, then drain it all out (cheesecloth helps here). voila - *pure* butter.

and so on and so on.

even pop - it's perfectly feasible to make an excellent ginger ale at home, using your own ingredients, 100% natural, complete with bubbles only this stuff actually is good for you - okay, you can't knock it back by the litre the way you can the chemically-sweetened stuff but you won't want to - that being the point of eating real food vs fake.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/a...ipe/index.html
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Old 03-12-2012, 05:56 PM   #8
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Some people definitely find that to be true. Other people (posters here, real people) do not find that to be true. I can name several long-term maintainers off the top of my head who opted to use artificial sweeteners.

Some people can't do that and DO find that they contribute to additional cravings and overeating. I can name as many people here who have that reaction as those that do well with artificial sweeteners.

Then there are people like me - I don't have a philosophical problem with small amounts of aspartame, but it gives me migraines, so it's a no-go. Small amounts of Splenda/sucralose, on the other hand, don't bother my head, or make me crave sweets appreciably more, so they make it into my diet in moderation.

I recommend that everyone first, do their own scientific research (is there scientific evidence that X is bad for me), and then, do their own PERSONAL research. If artificial sweeteners make you hungrier, make you crave more, that's one normal reaction, and you might consider excluding them. But if they don't, and you're comfortable with the science, there is no reason to declare them "bad" and cut them out.
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:06 PM   #9
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i guess this is one of those "Agree to disagree" things - the only sweetener i'd consider is stevia.

i, too, get migraines and i also am prone to depression so i try to avoid the fake stuff as much as possible. it's at the point that if nobody told me, i can still taste it and it's not pleasant - and i used to drink 2 - 4L of diet coke a day!
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:32 PM   #10
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There's so much controversy over artificial sweeteners, you may decide to be perfectly safe and avoid them all, but if that's the case, I'd avoid stevia as well (for reasons I describe below).

Personally, I'm satisfied in the relative safety of artificial sweeteners in the quantities I use them, though I would take any FDA approved artificial sweetener over stevia, because man-made food additives such as artificial sweeteners have to be proven safe before they can be sold in the USA, whereas "natural" products have to be proven unsafe (and dreadfully, often fatally so) before they can be taken off the market.

I've only found a couple studies of stevia, and both yeilded disturbing results. Birth defects of the reproductive system were found in the offspring of rat and hamster test subjects.

Often people will argue that stevia must be safe because it's been used by tribal peoples for generations, but there have been many such herbs that have been found to be unsafe (they've either always been unsafe and people didn't get sick enough or didn't associate their illness with the herb - or the modern way the herb is used is not similar to the way it's been used traditionally).

This is likely to be a problem with stevia, because as far as I've been able to determine, the use of stevia as an herb has never been anything like the use people are putting it to (refined and used in significant amounts frequently).

Until I learn more about stevia, it is the sweetener I will use least.

I'm comfortable with aspartame, because I've done a lot of digging through the pro and con literature. Not just reading them, but researching the reputation and motivations of the critics and researchers, and the journals publishing the research.

A lot of the worst "information" about aspartame and sucralose, come from unreputable sources ("urban legend" chain-email scams), and is either untrue or distorted (for example, aspartame does break down into chemicals that are poisons in large quantities or to some people with a specific genetic defect- but the're as true (or more so) for many very healthy foods. If aspartame is poisonous because of these compounds, then so are many fruits and vegetables, protein sources, chocolate... many natural foods that would be healthy for most people.

In researching the research, I would suggest that anyone using aspartame consider taking a folic acid supplement. There's clear evidence that aspartame can (if you use enough) cause a folate deficiency. This evidence crops up so easily that it makes it difficult to believe in a global conspiracy theory - because you'ld expect this effect to be suppressed as well, and is hasn't been.

Folate deficiency has long been known to be associated with both cancer, and both cancerous and benign tumors. In fact, most of the negative effects that have been found in aspartame research, and those not found in the research, but reported by individuals, can be accounted for just by the folate deficiency itself.

That's an easy fix, if you're going to use aspartame make sure you're eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and consider taking a folic acid supplement as a precaution (in so far as supplements go, it's one of the safest and cheapest).
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:04 AM   #11
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stevia has been used in japan for 70yrs or so.

"In 1991, after receiving an anonymous industry complaint, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeled stevia as an "unsafe food additive" and restricted its import.[33][63][64] The FDA's stated reason was "toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety."[65] This ruling was controversial, as stevia proponents pointed out that this designation violated the FDA's own guidelines under which natural substances used prior to 1958, with no reported adverse effects, should be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as long as the substance was being used in the same way and format as prior to 1958.
Stevia, the plant, is ineligible as a natural substance for patent protection. A process for extracting its "active ingredient" could, all other legal requirements being met, be patented. As a consequence, since the import ban in 1991, marketers and consumers of stevia have shared a belief that the FDA acted in response to industry pressure.[33] Arizona congressman Jon Kyl, for example, called the FDA action against stevia "a restraint of trade to benefit the artificial sweetener industry."[66] To protect the complainant, the FDA deleted names in the original complaint in its responses to requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act.[33]
Stevia remained banned until after the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act forced the FDA in 1995 to revise its stance to permit stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, although not as a food additive — a position that stevia proponents regard as contradictory because it simultaneously labels stevia as safe and unsafe, depending on how it is sold.[1]
Unresolved questions remain about whether metabolic processes can produce a mutagen from stevia in animals. Early studies prompted the European Commission in 1999 to ban stevia's use in food in the European Union pending further research.[67] More recent data compiled in the safety evaluation released by the World Health Organization in 2006[57] suggest that these policies may be obsolete. Since 2008, the Russian Federation has allowed stevioside as a food additive "in the minimal dosage required".[26]
In December 2008, the FDA gave a "no objection" approval for GRAS status to Truvia (developed by Cargill and The Coca-Cola Company) and PureVia (developed by PepsiCo and the Whole Earth Sweetener Company, a subsidiary of Merisant), both of which use rebaudioside A derived from the Stevia plant.[68]"



in other words, it was ruled "unsafe" by the FDA long enough for coke and pepsi to get their digs in.

the two complaints lodged with the FDA by the public were actually inquiries about where to find it. the complaint about it's safety was by an employee of a company producing an artificial sweetener.

as for the FDA approving things that are "Safe", who do you think does the research demonstrating the safety of the product? that's right: the manufacturer themselves.

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Old 03-13-2012, 03:42 AM   #12
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I use artificial sweeteners in moderation. Most often in my coffee (I have one non-fat latte per day) and when I drink a diet coke (a few times/week). I haven't noticed that their use has made me crave sweets, and over time I've found I use less in my coffee than I used to. It seems to work fine for me.

And on another note that came up in this thread; I don't think fat-free dairy is a "fake" food. I personally limit my consumption of dairy fat because I have (sometimes severe) digestive issues when I consume it (but have no adverse reaction fat-free dairy), and the dairy with the fat removed still has the same health benefits as full-fat dairy.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:50 AM   #13
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by "fake" i was referring more to the plethora of ingredients added to compensate for the fat removal.

for example, yoplait 99% fat-free:

"Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Strawberries, Modified Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Pectin, Colored with Carmine, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.

Yes, we’ve highlighted the added sugars, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The front of the yogurt label boldy claims it is 99% fat-free, leading a person to expect a very low calorie yogurt. Instead, 170 calories. Not a lot, but not close to zero either.

Note though, that 108 of these 170 calories are from sugar! In context: By weight, 17% of this product is sugar. 63% of the calories in Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt are from sugar!"

from http://blog.fooducate.com/2009/02/13...yogurt-anyway/



the HFCS and sugar are added to compensate for the more acidic taste of low-fat yoghurt, while the corn starch and gelatin are added to thicken it. the lite version uses artificial sweeteners.

notice there is no "active bacterial culture"? that means you can eat it but it's basically a dairy snack product with very little of the intestinal benefits afforded by real yoghurt.


when i make yoghurt at home, it's

milk
fruit
active bacterial culture (which, btw, you'll notice is missing in the yoplait list)

and that's about it. if i'm making lemon or lime flavour, i use stevia as a sweetener.

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Old 03-13-2012, 03:56 PM   #14
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YES they are BaD BAD BAD!

Try using Truvia. It's a natural no calorie sweetener.
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Old 03-14-2012, 01:01 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by threenorns View Post
by "fake" i was referring more to the plethora of ingredients added to compensate for the fat removal.

for example, yoplait 99% fat-free:

"Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Strawberries, Modified Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Pectin, Colored with Carmine, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.

Yes, we’ve highlighted the added sugars, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The front of the yogurt label boldy claims it is 99% fat-free, leading a person to expect a very low calorie yogurt. Instead, 170 calories. Not a lot, but not close to zero either.

Note though, that 108 of these 170 calories are from sugar! In context: By weight, 17% of this product is sugar. 63% of the calories in Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt are from sugar!"

from http://blog.fooducate.com/2009/02/13...yogurt-anyway/



the HFCS and sugar are added to compensate for the more acidic taste of low-fat yoghurt, while the corn starch and gelatin are added to thicken it. the lite version uses artificial sweeteners.

notice there is no "active bacterial culture"? that means you can eat it but it's basically a dairy snack product with very little of the intestinal benefits afforded by real yoghurt.


when i make yoghurt at home, it's

milk
fruit
active bacterial culture (which, btw, you'll notice is missing in the yoplait list)

and that's about it. if i'm making lemon or lime flavour, i use stevia as a sweetener.
I agree there's plenty of junk out there, but products which are fat-free or lower carb or whatever aren't necessarily bad, or at least they're not all bad/full of crap. Not every fat-free product is loaded with sugar or chemicals to account for the fat that's been removed, etc.

On the yogurt, see the Chobani 0% as an example. Here's my favorite flavor:



Some sugar? Yes, from the evaporated cane juice. But nothing weird or unrecognizable. I'd call that real food, and healthy despite the added sugar.
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