There are many different types of artificial sugars that you may have noticed in fizzy drinks, sweets, fast foods, and canned foods. Artificial sugars allow manufacturers to sell their products as “diet” or “sugar-free” and make them so-called healthy. However, their safety and side effects are debatable, which we will explain in this section.
How do artificial sweeteners work?
Artificial sweeteners are known as sugar substitutes and are often sweeter than sugar but have very few or no calories because most of them are “not fully metabolized” and are known as nutritious sweeteners. They are known as non-nutritive sweeteners. The human body does not metabolize artificial sweeteners because they do not have the enzymes needed to digest them.
Artificial sweeteners work by stimulating similar sensory cells in human taste buds to signal our brain when we taste the sweet taste of a substance such as sugar. Because artificial sweeteners are 200,000 to 200,000 times sweeter than sugar, manufacturers can use them in small amounts in their formulations to add almost no calories to the product.
Types of artificial sweeteners:
Types of artificial sugar substitutes approved by the Health Organization are:
- Potassium Acesulfame
- Lu Han Guo Fruit Extract
- High purity acetyl glycosides (stevia)
Side effects of artificial sweeteners:
Unfortunately, some research shows that artificial sweeteners can have devastating effects on health. Other research shows that artificial sweeteners do not cause bad side effects if you are in good health. If you want to know more about the side effects of artificial sugar substitutes, do not miss further reading.
It is harmful to oral health
Consumption of artificial sweeteners is associated with oral health. According to recent information; Drinks and sports drinks without sugar or containing artificial sweeteners are as dangerous as sugary drinks. These drinks and many sugar-free candies usually contain citric acid and phosphoric acid, making the products taste good. Although these acids break down tooth enamel, they do not cause decay like regular sugar. Sugar-free gum is safe for teeth (although it may affect other body systems). Some types of sugar-free gum are even good for the teeth, such as natural gum made with xylitol (vegetable alcohol, natural and sweet-tasting). This may be a safer alternative for those who have a weak reaction to the original sugar-free gum.
They affect the brain
Some information suggests that when Sugar Substitutes are used, they cross the blood-brain barrier and disrupt hippocampal function. This reduces sensitivity to input signals, regulates binge eating behaviors that lead to cravings, and increases food intake.
They increase the desire for sweet taste
Consumption of artificial sweeteners keeps the taste buds open. Those who use artificial sweeteners may become accustomed to extraordinarily sweet flavors. This changes their taste and reduces their enjoyment of sweet and natural foods such as fresh fruits, healthy foods such as whole grains or vegetables.
Increase bad gut bacteria
Some studies show that artificial sweeteners affect the normal gut microbiota, or in other words, can increase the bad bacteria in the gut, which can lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome. Because our gut produces many of the body’s chemical exchange hormones, metabolic syndrome can lead to poor health and disease.
They can cause diabetes
Artificial sweeteners alter the gut microbiota. According to a recent study in behavioral physiology, artificial sweeteners are associated with impaired glucose tolerance, which raises blood sugar and thus increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, artificial sugar substitutes can have a similar effect on the gut, making it harder to manage blood sugar levels and putting you at greater risk for the side effects of diabetes.
They are associated with the risk of cancer
The first artificial sweetener produced in the 1970s was cyclamate, but the Food and Drug Administration immediately banned it because it had been shown in animal studies to cause cancer. Although these studies have not been repeated in humans, caution is required.
They lead to various problems of the digestive system
Intestinal dysbiosis, which is often associated with irritable bowel syndrome, is very common and leads to bloating and pain and reduces a person’s ability to receive more nutrients and improve the immune system’s health.
They have a lot of calories
Synthetic sweeteners can be non-nutritious, although most artificial sweeteners fall into the non-nutritious product category. They are artificial sugar substitutes low in calories and carbohydrates but may be made from natural herbs and are several times sweeter than sugar. Another type of artificial sweetener is aspartame. These sweeteners may have fewer calories than sugar but add more calories to foods.
They cause overeating
Have you ever noticed how you eat more than usual or feel more like eating after a diet drink with food? While artificial sugar substitutes are supposed to help us reduce our calorie intake, the opposite may be true. Artificial sweeteners stimulate the sweet taste and increase insulin levels by eating sugar.
This allows you to eat more calories than an artificial sweetener, increasing cardiovascular disease risk.
Aspartame is not suitable for everyone
Aspartame is approved for use in food as a nutritious sweetener. Aspartame contains calories, but consumers are likely to consume much less because it is about 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Aspartame loses its sweetness when heated, so it is not usually used in cooked foods. Phenylalanine is a component of aspartame and should be avoided by people with a rare congenital condition known as phenylketonuria.
While studies on the side effects of artificial sweeteners have been inconclusive, many people report problems with headaches, seizures, dizziness, depression after eating or consuming aspartame drinks.
The Food and Drug Administration assures the safety of artificial sweeteners that are not harmful to the general public and that any sugar substitute in daily consumption is acceptable. Conflicting research studies show that artificial sweeteners increase the craving for sweets and increase body weight, while others have no effect. It is recommended to be aware of any changes in your preferences and tastes to know how these sweeteners affect them.