Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners like splenda and sweet n’ low are primarily marketed to diabetics and people that are trying to lose weight. But, contrary to what we’ve been led to believe, artificial sweeteners can cause weight gain, insulin sensitivity, and even increase your risk of Alzheimers. Yes, I know, so scary.
Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance
One of the main reasons artificial sweeteners do not help you lose weight (despite the misleading 0 calorie nutrition fact) is that your body is not fooled by the sweet taste of these “sugars” without accompanying calories. So, when you eat something with an artificial sweetener in it like aspartame, splenda or sweet n low, your brain’s pleasure pathway is activated by the sweet taste, but no calories follow to then turn that pleasure pathway off. So, these artificial sweeteners make your body think that it’s about to receive sugar/calories but since those calories never actually arrive (they are fake) your body continues to signal that it needs more, causing more sugar and carb cravings.
Reaching for a diet coke or “sugar free” cookie might sound like a good idea because it’s lower in calories due to the fake sugar, but all it’s doing is setting your body up to fail. Fake sugar = more sugar and carb cravings = weight gain and insulin resistance.
Artificial Sweeteners Can Lead to a Host of Other Health Issues Too
Aspartame and splenda don’t just make you gain weight; they can also make you REALLY sick. According to a report by Dr. Mercola, which sites the 2013 study, Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, “diet soda drinkers suffer the exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. The researchers speculate that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners may induce metabolic derangements.” The article also discusses the link between aspartame and Alzheimer’s disease. While Alzheimer’s disease has been said to be closely related to sugar and grain consumption, studies show that aspartame also plays a critical role. Increased consumption of aspartame can lead to methanol toxicity and the formation of toxic formaldehyde. See resources here.
Ditch the “Diet” and “Sugar Free” Foods
Almost every single food labeled “Diet” or “Sugar Free” is full of these artificial sweeteners. When you look at everything that these sweeteners are doing to your body – confusing your taste buds, increasing cravings, adding on weight, increasing insulin resistance, and increasing chances for stroke, cardiovascular disease and likely even alzheimers- it’s pretty clear that we should be eliminating them from our diets completely. If you are looking for a healthier substitute for sugar and artificial sweeteners, I suggest all natural stevia, a little bit of local raw honey or Luo Han. These are great alternatives to sugar, splenda and sweet n low but should still be used in moderation.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are addictive and can be difficult to eliminate from your diet. To make the transition easier, I suggest adding lots of healthy fats like avocados, grass fed butter, olive oil and nuts to your diet. These foods will fill you up and help decrease your cravings for sugar. It does take a little bit of time to lose those cravings but trust me, your taste buds will change! Plus, who wants formaldehyde floating around in their body anyways!
**The information and studies above comes from Dr. Mercola and studies that have been published from his website. For more information visit www.drmercola.com or check out this article. I've also gained knowledge on the impact of artificial sweeteners on health from my studies at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This article is not claiming to diagnose or treat any kind of disease.**