Even though aspartame and other similar artificial sweeteners were approved by the FDA at some point, more and more studies confirm the hazardous effects of these compounds. Unfortunately, many snacks and diet beverages still include such sweeteners in their composition. Here are some of the most important risks which you expose yourself to when consuming drinks or foods that contain artificial sweeteners.
Toxicity of Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame and sucralose, two artificial sweeteners that are frequently found in the composition of snacks, can alter the function of the kidneys. A study conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston revealed the fact that prolonged consumption of foods and beverages containing these artificial sweeteners causes kidney degradation by 30 percent over 10 years.
Studies conducted at the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences confirmed that artificial sweeteners play a great role in the development of health conditions such as:
- Cancerous tumors
- Lesions in various organs
- Nerve damage
- Premature death
- Transitional cell carcinomas
Considering how serious some of the health conditions listed above really are, it becomes rather obvious why it is important to avoid foods that contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
Metabolic Changes Caused by Artificial Sweeteners
Some studies showed that aspartame, saccharin and sucralose lead to metabolic changes that prevent the body from assimilating real sugar properly. In people who consume foods and beverages that contain artificial sweeteners, the circulating levels of GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) are significantly higher. GLP-1 is a hormone secreted in the small intestine whose role is to create the sensation of satiety in the brain. Higher levels of GLP-1 imply that people who consume snacks with artificial sweeteners tend to eat less in the long run, but other studies suggest that such sweeteners in fact lead to obesity.
Artificial Sweeteners and Obesity
Aspartame, sucralose and other artificial sweeteners send signals to the brain, making the body think that sweet foods and beverages contain fewer calories than they actually do. Studies conducted on rats suggest that consumption of foods containing artificial sweeteners leads to overeating, which obviously causes excess weight and later on, obesity.
Snacks containing artificial sweeteners may seem very appealing, because they are advertised as low-carb foods. As a consequence, people following low-carb diets or people who want to lose weight are very tempted to eat these snacks, without knowing that in fact, they get the opposite effect.
Safe Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners
If you crave something sweet, there are many healthier alternatives to the snacks containing artificial sweeteners. Raw agave nectar and raw honey are not only healthy, but also very rich in enzymes. However, you’re recommended to consume these in moderate quantities.
Another alternative to artificial sweeteners is represented by natural stevia extract. As this does not contain any sugar or calories, it represents a safe sweetener for diabetics. Natural stevia extract comes in various flavors, such as vanilla or root beer, so it can be used not only for sweetening snacks, but also for giving them a different taste.