If you’ve ever been on a diet, chances are you have used artificial sweeteners. From diet soda, to all sugar free and low calorie desserts, almost every product has some kind of artificial sweetener. Most people think that low calorie is equal to healthy, but is it really like that?
Why are artificial sweeteners so popular and wide spread? Don’t rush to give me an answer! Think twice! In case you are confused I will tell you- because people using them are on a diet, trying to lose weight. It all makes perfect sense- artificial sweeteners are with really low or no calories. You’d think that this would be the best pick! But like everything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true, then there might be something suspicious about it!
In order to keep going, I want to get something straight! Your body is a complicated machine. Even if you do not believe it, your body is way smarter than you! You can’t trick it with man made products! Every food you eat, leads to some kind of chemical reactions in your body. These chemical reactions, lead to signals being send to The Boss(your brain), about everything happening in your body. Then, after the signal is being accepted by your brain, other signals are sent back as a response.
So what happens with your health and weight, depends on these complicated mechanisms.
What that has to do with artificial sweeteners? Today I want to rise up the topic about artificial sweeteners, their influence on your appetite and weight gain!
A question that pops up in my mind is “What drives the desire to eat?” One answer to the question would be mere hunger, and the other would be food reward! According to this study food reward consists of two branches- sensory and postingestive. Artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways the same way as natural sweeteners do. Their non caloric nature, eliminates the postingestive reaction and offers partial activation of the food reward pathways. The failure to provide complete satisfaction leads to further seeking of food. That forces you to have a strong desire to satisfy the craving for sweetness, even in the absence of real energy need!
What does that mean? You eat the no calorie food, expecting to reduce your calorie intake, but your body is starving to feel complete satisfaction, and thus forces you to feel ferocious about eating more and more till you satisfy that need!
Another problem with artificial sweeteners is the fact that they are non-nutritive. You know how when you eat an apple, you might ingest carbohydrates which will lead to an insulin reaction from your body, but besides that you will ingest some nutrients, which will serve for your body’s proper functioning. What happens when you ingest the non-nutritive artificial sweetener? Your body doesn’t consider it to be food. Next it tries to eliminate the unknown product, leading to its digesting, no matter the fact that it has no valuable nutrients. That leads to increased metabolic activity, without a real reason for it! The sweetener messes with your brain, fooling it into revving up the body’s metabolism in anticipation of never coming calories!
That reminds me of the fact that, when you eat something sweet there are two waves of insulin release. The first one is a preemptive wave, meaning that your body is anticipating the glucose to come. And the second wave is due to the fact that glucose already entered your body. So artificial sweeteners provoke the first preemptive wave, and your body is anticipating glucose, that won’t come!
And you know that if you aim at fat loss, higher insulin is not the friend you’d ask for. So why bother rising your insulin levels with no reason?
Another interesting fact is that you have the same taste buds in your intestine as you do in your tongue. The only difference is the way nerve endings are hooked up.
The buds in your tongue are hooked up to the brain’s pleasure centers. That is the place where the sweet taste triggers the release of brain chemicals, leading to the “good, happy” feeling.
On the other hand, the buds in your intestine are hooked up to the pancreas, and that is the place where the release of insulin is triggered. So when the taste buds feel that sweet taste, which artificial sweeteners provide, the pancreas secretes insulin. So we come back to sweet taste-insulin-not good for weight loss and appetite control!
Recently I stumbled upon a study , where rats were divided in two groups. The first group took ad libitum oral doses of water sweetened with the maximum Acceptable Daily Intake of the formulae used in sweeteners( saccharin, aspartame, cyclamate, and acesulfame-K. The second group had just plain water. Both groups were fed with rat chow. What was established? Even though the calorie intake between the two groups, did not change, the rats fed with non-caloric sweeteners, had a greater increase in bodyweight. Doesn’t that have something to show you?
After all artificial sweeteners save calories, but as people said “There is no free lunch!” By saving calories, you have to pay with increased appetite for sweets, leading to increased overall food consumption and potentially obesity. Check out this graph of sweeteners consumption and obesity rate in the United States. Shocking, I know! And that is just a piece of the puzzle. There are a bunch of information about negative effects of sweeteners on your health!
We can talk a lot about why sweeteners aren’t good for you, but what would be a better thing to discuss, is what are you supposed to do once you’ve realized the harm of the non-caloric man made “salvation”?
As always you need to go back to the basics! Eat real food! The nature has given us, so many tasty alternatives. There is a real food for every craving! And I do not wanna hear how you can’t go a day without something sweet, how you can’t drink your coffee without its sweet taste and other plain excuses like that! If you crave something, it is probably because your body is deficient in some nutrient! Do you think that by giving it artificial sweeteners, you could satisfy that need? I doubt it! Here is a pretty cool table, that shows you what nutrient deficiency might hide behind the junk food you crave.
Give yourself a week, without sweets, junk, artificial sweeteners and all other fancy names of sugar, and I promise you, that you will start loving it! You will get to experience the real taste of food and you will never think of getting back to the man made products, that make your body starve and harm your health!
Put down the sweeteners!
Do you use artificial sweeteners? What is your opinion?
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