ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: Sweet Deal or Not?
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the area of artificial sweeteners. Some say all artificial sweeteners are bad for you, others say they can only cause harm in extremely large amounts, and yet others argue there is nothing to fear at all. I’d like to take a look at each of the leading artificial sweeteners, and go over the findings and suspicions of each.
What is aspartame? Aspartame is an artificial sweetener sold under names as Equal, and NutraSweet. It’s used mainly in beverages, and some foods. Aspartame has long been under scrutiny for causing ill effects and known to cause deaths, particularly in pregnant women, and small children. Aspartames main ingredient, phenylalanine (which is said to make up more than half of the ingredients in aspartame), is an amino acid known to feed cancer, and in toxic amounts many claim cause brain dysfunction. Common complaints are headaches, dizziness, and feeling faint. Several individuals have reported symptoms of both Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and Fibromyalgia, after consuming large amounts of this artificial sweetener.
Some researchers claim when the temperature of Nutra-Sweet exceeds 86 degrees F. the wood alcohol in Nutra-Sweet converts to formaldehyde, then to formic acid, which causes metabolic acidosis, which in turn appears as symptoms of MS and/or Lupus. This has been the case with the avid drinkers (those consuming three to four or more 12 oz. diet coke or pepsi per day), as the symptoms became more pronounced the greater the consumption rate, and many were misdiagnosed with MS or Lupus. These researchers say if you have symptoms of shooting pains, numbness of the legs, spasms, headaches, vertigo, dizziness, depression, or ringing in the ears, you could be suffering from an overdose of Nutra-Sweet.
These researchers even went so far as to say Nutra-Sweet was at the core of the Desert Storm troops health issues that began showing up after many months, as several thousand pallets were said to be delivered to the troops, and sat in the desert heat, well above 86 degrees F. for many weeks before being consumed.
What is Splenda? It’s basically the same as sucralose, just a modernized version. Sucralose is sugar that’s been altered by chlorine. When chlorine is ingested in small amounts, it’s claimed to be safe, such as when it’s added to water, etc. However, in large amounts it’s considered unsafe. Splenda is said to be as much as 600 times sweeter than table sugar, this is why so many people have flocked to Splenda, not to mention it has no calories, and does not have an effect on insulin. Researchers propose only 15% of the artificial sweetener is actually absorbed by the body. However, it’s questionable as to whether some people may be absorbing more, depending on how healthy their digestive system is. As with aspartame, people have claimed to get headaches (migraines), as well as, anything from liver issues to loss of appetite. Studies performed by the manufacturer on rodents showed shrunken thymus glands, and enlarged liver and kidneys, it did not state the amount given to the rodents. It does say it was a short-term study, as no long-term studies had been performed prior to Splenda being released for sale to the general public.
What is stevia? It’s an artificial sweetener derived from a South American plant. It, like Splenda, has no calories, and doesn’t affect insulin. No real complaints have been made about Stevia, other than a few people who had short term feelings of nausea.
However, some researchers claim stevia in large amounts for a long period of time could cause reproductive issues such as, reduced sperm count, and lower birthweight babies as they did in laboratory animals (hamsters). Researchers are concerned stevia can effect both the rate of absorption of carbohydrates when consumed in large amounts, as well as transmute cells to a cancerous nature.
What is agave? Basically, it’s refined fructose. Man-made, adulterated chemical fructose. Somehow it just doesn’t sound as natural as they make it sound, you think? Once this process has been completed and a person consumes agave, researchers claim the manmade version fructose turns into a triglyceride, and stored as body fat, hmm. Consumers are happy with agave because it tastes sweet, claims to be natural, and doesn’t spike insulin as much as table sugar. Researchers who oppose its use, claim agave still has its possible setbacks, such as liver inflammation, insulin resistance, weight gain, and even heart disease.
No one really knows what these substitutes do to the human body, especially long-term. In other words, if you are ingesting any of these substitutes on a daily basis, especially if you have come to rely on them to get your water down, or worse yet replace your water needs, or find you add them to everything and anything to get your sweet tooth taken care of, YOU are the guinea pig, lab rat, whatever you want to call it. You see, the only way researchers and the FDA (not that either of these groups really care), will obtain the effects of long-term use is by the people who are consuming them, and that’s only if these people confess their use when they go to see the doctor for whatever ails them. PLEASE, don’t think because the FDA has approved something, it is safe, it is far from it! The FDA has monetary interests, why do you think so many fatal drugs make it to market every year? Don’t count on them to watch out for your health, only YOU can do that.
Fact is, sugar substitutes have been blamed for:
1. Cancer 2. Brain dysfunction 3. Mood swings
4. Headaches (migraines)
5. Birth defects
Whether this rings true or not for you depends on what you are consuming, how much you’re consuming, and how often. I think there are many other natural choices to choose from, to get your sweet tooth taken care of within reason, without the risk. Besides, many of my athletes are hardcore, and need a bit more calories post-workout, and real carbohydrates get directly into their system without the side effects.
Some natural choices: 1. Honey (Try to purchase local honey) 2. Maple Syrup (This is pure syrup, not your Aunt Jemima’s)
3. Fresh fruit