Contributed by – Rachana Arya
Artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes are chemicals added to your foods and beverages to make them taste sweet. Certain sweeteners do contain calories but their amount which is required to sweeten products is so less that you end up eating almost zero calories. Aspartame is the substance which is two hundred times sweeter than sugar.
Other sweeteners include Acesulfame potassium which is two hundred times sweeter than sugar and is suitable for cooking and baking. Advantame is also a sweetener used in the kitchen. It is twenty thousand times sweeter than sugar and is best suited for cooking and baking. Aspartame-acesulfame salt is three hundred and fifty times sweeter than sugar. Cyclamate is fifty times sweeter than sugar and is used for cooking and baking. Similarly, Neotame, Neohesperidin, Sacchari and Sucralose also come under the category of artificial sweeteners and are available under various brand names in the market.
Some consider that artificial sweeteners may increase appetite and promote weight gain. They may be unable to trigger the food reward mechanism required to make you feel satiated after your meal. Many studies claim that artificial sweeteners increase hunger and calorie intake. Certain observational studies report a connection between the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages and obesity. Artificial sweeteners might reduce body weight by replacing regular soft drinks with sugar-free versions reducing the number of daily calories consumed.
Diabetics might benefit from artificial sweeteners but some studies have reported that drinking diet soda is associated with a greater risk of developing diabetes. Excessive use of artificial sweeteners also causes metabolic syndrome which refers to multiple medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive belly fat and abnormal cholesterol level. They increase your risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some studies also suggest that the controlled consumption of artificial sweeteners are unlikely to increase your risk of metabolic syndrome.
Your gut bacteria also play an important role in your health. An unhealthy gut is connected with numerous problems such as weight gain, poor blood sugar control, metabolic syndrome, a weakened immune system and disrupted sleep. The composition and function of gut bacteria is affected by what you eat. According to a study, the artificial sweetener saccharin disrupted gut bacteria’s balance in people. They showed weak blood sugar control after consuming artificial sweetener.
Furthermore, a recent review published did not find a link between cancer risk and artificial sweetener consumption. They are not likely to increase the risk of cancer in humans. Apart from this, artificial sweeteners do not react with the bacteria present in your mouth. Hence, there is no tooth decay. The investigation also confirms that sucralose is less likely to cause tooth decay.
However, some artificial sweeteners might cause headaches, depression and seizures. People with mood disorders are more prone to depressive symptoms in response to aspartame consumption. However, you could be more sensitive to these effects. Some are allergic to saccharin which might cause breathing difficulties, rashes or diarrhoea. Evidence also indicates that artificial sweeteners such as sucralose reduce insulin sensitivity and affect the gut bacteria. Therefore, artificial sweeteners might aid weight loss, blood sugar control and improved dental health. Negative effects can vary depending on the type of artificial sweetener consumed.
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