Despite FDA approval and social acceptance as a way to reduce caloric consumption, artificial sweeteners remain suspect of harmful long term effects. Sugar-substitutes allow diabetics to enjoy their desserts and the diet-conscious and over-weight population to reign in their calories and jump-start weight loss efforts. Walking through the supermarket aisles yields product after product with “Diet” & “Sugar-Free” labels which amp up the taste with artificial sweetener.
However, scientists have been largely disturbed by preliminary evidence that suggests that regular consumption of artificial sweeteners may, in fact, lead to additional weight gain. A recent study in Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science, released evidence of “metabolic abnormalities” when testing non-caloric artificial sweeteners in mice, going so far as to say:
“Collectively, our results link NAS [Non-Caloric Sweetener] consumption, dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities, thereby calling for a reassessment of massive NAS usage.”
So what are these metabolic abnormalities? The artificial sweeteners modify the bacteria in your stomach, leading to an increase in blood sugar levels and glucose intolerance. These bacteria were previously linked to Type 2 diabetes and obesity, but now they re-emerge in adults and children consuming artificially sweetened products!
Smaller studies have previously released evidence of a link between artificial sweeteners and metabolic disorders, but this is the first one to suggest previous conditions might be worsened by non-caloric sweeteners.
As with any new finding, we need to factor in matters of excessive consumption. We’ve suffered through article after article purporting kale’s harmful effect. I won’t boggle you down with the details again save for the fact that all this ‘harm’ boiled down to the fact that you shouldn’t be consuming several pounds of raw kale a day.
NOTHING is good for you in excess (although I’d like to argue for happiness and love as safe options). Problem is that it’s easy to chug down four cans of a diet beverage over the course of an hour, and then follow up with some sugar-free pudding without batting an eye. Whereas, chugging down four glasses of kale juice followed by a bowl of kale chips is a much more involved endeavor.
I wouldn’t frantically throw out anything containing a trace of a sugar substitute with these findings. I would suggest not making diet products part of your daily food group. Have a caloric sweetener if you’re craving something sweet, and let your body process it naturally. If you’re watching the waistline, enjoy a diet product without making it the crutch of your health routine.
Photo: Diet Coke