Are Artificial Sweeteners Making America Fat & Sick?

Artificial Sweeteners
West Palm Beach, USA - April 12, 2011: Product shot of three different brands of zero calorie sweeteners: Sweet N Low in pink, Equal in blue, and Splenda in yellow. Each brand is an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute.

According to a new study at the University of California, San Diego, Splenda is not satisfying to the brain.

Researchers gave 12 women functional MRIs while sipping water sweetened by either real sugar (sucrose) or Splenda (sucralose). It was then discovered that the brain instantly knows the difference between artificial sweeteners and real sugar.

There is a definite reason why human beings love to eat sugary substances. Sweeteners (both sugar and artificial sweeteners) bind to receptors on the tongue, which then send signals to the brain. While both sugar and Splenda do stimulate the same taste and pleasure pathways, researcher Guido Frank found that the artificial sweetener doesn’t make the same impact.

“The real thing, the sugar, elicits a much greater response in the insula,” said Frank, now at the University of Colorado at Denver. This means that it is much harder to have a sugar craving satisfied by a desert made with Splenda. “Our hypothesis is that Splenda has less of a feedback mechanism to stop the craving, to get satisfied.”

If Frank’s theory is correct, this may debunk the philosophy that artificial sweeteners work well in weight-control or weight-loss efforts. Eating real sugar may be the best option yet, as those eating deserts sweetened by alternatives may continue eating because they are never satisfied.

Artificial Sweeteners and Disease

Additionally, in recent years there has been much concern over the role of artificial sweeteners in compromised health. In February of this year, French scientists published a report that reveals “there is a higher risk of diabetes from so-called ‘diet’ or ‘light’ drinks than ‘normal” sweetened soft drinks.”

The study saw 66,118 women tracked over 14 years. Each of the women self-reported their consumption of 100 percent juice, sugar-sweetened drinks, and artificially sweetened drinks. Results revealed women who consumed greater amounts of artificial sweeteners are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.

Plus, the National Cancer Institute has long ago concluded that heavy use of Saccharin in diet products (including diet soda) increases the risk of developing bladder cancer. The study termed “heavy use” as consuming two or more 8-ounce servings per day or six or more packets of artificial sweetener per day.

Aspartame, which is most often mixed with Saccharin for diet sodas, has been linked to headaches, migraines, dizziness, weight gain, nausea, depression, fatigue, insomnia, vision and hearing problems, anxiety, birth defects, mental retardation, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more.

The French study mentioned prior does admit that eating large amounts of real sugar can increase one’s change of diabetes, but it appears to be a much safer option in the long run.

For those who crave sugar, nutritionist and author Linda Prout suggests getting to the root of why the cravings exist in the first place. She asserts that sugar cravings are usually experienced because individuals are missing key foods, vitamins, and minerals in their diets.