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Nov 7, 2009 | Joy McCarthy

Many diabetics and people wanting to limit sugar in their diet will resort to eating artificial sweeteners thinking they are doing their waistline a favour and keeping them free from the damaging effects of refined sugar. Unfortunately, it may do the exact opposite.

Artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain.

Why? Published in the American Psychological Association's Behavioral Neuroscience journal researchers state it is possible that artificial sweeteners confuse the body's natural attempt to keep track of calories based on the sweetness of the food being consumed. Basically, this means that when the brain detects a sweet taste on the tongue (like from a splenda-infused-baked good), it expects nutrition. "Nutrition" coming from that of a carbohydrate source including vitamins and minerals. When it does not receive any nutrients from this chemical source, it turns on the appetite and you eat MORE. The body is smart.

More studies linking weight gain.

Researchers at Purdue University did two groups of studies on rats and found that those fed yogurt sweetened with saccharin, a zero-calorie sweetener, ate more and "gained significantly more weight" than those that ate the same food containing regular sugar. The researchers state that artificial sweeteners may change the body's response to food and may distort the ability to control calorie consumption.

May cause adverse health affects.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center's Department of Pharmacology studied the affects of Splenda, a processed artificial sweetener made from sucralose on rats over a 12-week period. Results showed the following:

Lowered microflora (good bacteria in the intestines)

Increased fecal pH (associated with digestive problems and cancer)

Elevated levels of P-gp proteins and CYP enzymes both known to limit the absorption of nutrients

FDA admits that it receives the most complaints on artificial sweeteners.

Did you know of all the foods and food additives on the market, the FDA reports more health complaints on artificial sweeteners, than any other food and yet it is still on the "Generally Regarded As Safe" list despite its strong association with brain tumours and seizures. Of all the 90 different health complaints, these are the most common; headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, memory loss and joint pain. Aspartame, one of the most popular sweeteners is a synthetic compound made up of Phenylalanine and Aspartic Acid held in a chemical bond by Methanol, which breaks down into Formic Acid, Formaldehyde and Diketopiperazine (DKP). It is the DKP that may cause brain tumours.

A few personal stories.

About 3 years ago I was coaching a client who was a bank manager and suffered from headaches EVERY single day. It was really affecting his life and his family (he was married with 2 young kids). After doing an intake on him, I discovered he was drinking Diet Coke every day with his lunch. I suggested he slowly cut back and as soon as he was down to no diet drinks at all, his headaches were gone. I came back to see him after about 3 weeks and he was BEAMING. It was a really nice feeling to help this guy, his smile was worth it!

Years ago when I used to add "Equal" to my morning tea and chew gum, those would be the days I would get headaches and have a dry mouth. Now it took me some time to actually make the link, because back then I just wasn't as "body-aware" as I am now. However, when I came to my senses and stopped with those little blue packets in my tea and stopped chewing gum with artificial sweeteners, my headaches went away immediately.

The good news is that there are no shortage of studies that can be researched online or at your local library linking severe to moderate health concerns with artificial sweeteners. If you consume artificial sweeteners and are still not convinced, I encourage you to do your research because in this post, I have barely scratched the service of the dangers to your health associated with this most profitable and popular additive.

If these reasons listed above don't sound too appetizing, then try one of these alternatives:

organic unpasteurized honey

pure maple syrup

brown rice syrup


agave nectar

sucanat (my favourite for baking)

Nov 7, 2009 BY Joy McCarthy
Chris Young   •   November 7, 2009

I just replaced my Splenda with raw sugar in my morning coffee substitute. I tried blue agave at the Whole Foods market in Toronto yesterday and wasn't a big fan. I guess i'll have to get some Stevia if I can't acquire a taste for unsweetened coffee. Thank you and keep the good information coming.

joyousness   •   November 7, 2009

Diana   •   November 7, 2009

Thanks for this great article Joy. While I'm not a soda drinker, I do chew gum and use Splenda in my morning coffee. I'm off to get me some Stevia!

joyousness   •   November 7, 2009

Allison   •   November 8, 2009

Agave is amazing! :)


Attn: Diet Soda/Pop Drinkers. Be Kind To Your Kidneys & Kick Your Pop Habit « joyous health   •   November 10, 2009

[...] I hope that you have read my previous post about the effects of artificial sweeteners: [...]


Worst Cereals & Best Breakfasts « joyous health   •   November 14, 2009

[...] Special K. I used to eat this years ago drowned in my non-organic cow’s milk and some form of artifical sweetener to keep my waistline slim, or so I thought, [...]


John Januszczak   •   November 16, 2009

Have you tried Yacón syrup? Its from South America and is a pretty amazing natural sweetner. It is made from 100% Yacón root, a close relative of the Jerusalem artichoke. They concentrate the juices much like they would the sap for maple syrup. It's very sweet, similar to Maple Syrup in colour, but with 40% less calories. On top of all that it has a super low glycemic index of 1 (compared to 45 for maple syrup and over 80 for refined sugar). It is also considered to be Prebiotic!


How To Get A Flat Belly & Improve Your Digestion « joyous health   •   August 25, 2010

[...] in…. bloating! I’m not even going to touch on the fact that gum is a source of artificial sweeteners which are neurotoxic additives that the “phood” industry thinks is safe for human [...]


Satu   •   March 4, 2011

Great article, I know someone with a bad Pepsi Max habit! I keep reading posts that tell me sugar is evil. Now I don't eat refined sugar, but black unrefined molasses sugar is what I put in my coffee in the morning. Is any and every sugar really as bad?


Gena Pinheiro   •   July 7, 2011

What are your thoughts on plain old unrefined/raw sugar? My husband uses it in his coffee, but not sure if I should guide him in a different direction or not.


Lamson ULA Purist fly fishing reel   •   February 24, 2014

Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the rest of the website is really good.


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