The artificial sweeteners have been subjected to a lot of debates regarding their safety since their inception. Numerous studies have been conducted on it all around the globe.
While the general view is that the sweeteners listed below are regarded safe to consume, however one should still be cautious of multiple side effects or perhaps addiction to sugar they can bring along with them.
A brief on most commonly used artificial sweeteners
|Name||Accepted Daily Intake *(mg/kg body wt/day)||Equivalent|
|Saccharin||5||9-12 sweetening packs/day|
|Sucralose||5||6 cans of diet soda|
|Acesulfame Potassium||15||30-32 cans of diet soda|
|Aspartame||50||18-29 cans of diet soda|
*Accepted Daily Intake(ADI) is the upper limit of the amount that would not cause any harm. It has been fixed by FDA and usually 100 times less than the harmful threshold level. To give an idea of how much quantity the ADI is, the equivalent section is given.
THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
- Since they have almost zero calories, they help in weight control.
- They don’t contribute to tooth decay and cavities.
- They are a good alternative for people suffering from diabetes. It reduces insulin spikes and crashing in cases of the post-sugar binge.
- It makes oral medications less bitter and enhances the taste of food and beverages.
- In a 2013 study in 8 European countries involving over 300,000 people, no link was found between Type 2 diabetes and artificial sweeteners.
- Many naturally occurring food have been seen to contain the same substances or chemicals as the artificial sweeteners and in many cases, in much greater quantities than the artificial sweetener. For example, a serving of tomato juice contains 4 to 6 times more methanol than a beverage sweetened with artificial sweetener aspartame; a serving of non-fat milk contains about 6 to 9 times more phenylalanine and about 13 times more aspartic acid than fluid mixed with aspartame.
AND THE BAD NEWS IS
- Artificial sweeteners can reduce the body response to normal sugar which in turn can encourage people to eat more sugar and hence the same consequences which the artificial sweeteners are meant to avoid.
- A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that the users of artificial sweeteners have an increased risk of lower urinary tract cancers.
- A 2004 article in the Annals of Oncology stated that excessive intake of artificial sweeteners (>1680 mg per day) increases the risk of cancer of the bladder.
- In the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism; a study stated that glucose management is worse in people who consume artificial sweeteners as compared to those who don’t consume them.
- They don’t provide any nutrients – vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, or healthy fats whatsoever unlike natural sweeteners such as Honey and Jaggery
- People with phenylketonuria which is a genetic disorder can not break down one of the aspartame’s main by-product phenylalanine, and hence for them, aspartame is not safe.
- Artificial sweeteners are also a cause of allergy for some people.
- Artificial Sweeteners can be addictive. During a research it was found that the test subject responded in much higher addiction rate to Saccharin as compared to Cocaine.
- Aspartame, since it was considered as safe in small quantities was initially used by brands like Coke and Pepsi. However, the exact quantity of safe limit became unclear and to avoid the controversy, PepsiCo altogether removed it from Diet Pepsi.
LATEST ON STEVIA – THE HYPED ONE IN THE CATEGORY
Stevia, a herb of South American origin, plant species Stevia Rebaudiana, has recently caught the attention of scientists. Artificial sweetener made out of Stevia has been deemed totally non-toxic and safe. Japanese found that stevia was not only helpful in people with type 2 diabetes but also suppressed high blood pressure. However, some people have reported having experienced allergies, nausea, and dizziness with excessive consumption of stevia.
To conclude we find that artificial sweeteners may be good in small amounts but the best way out may be is to limit their use as much as possible and resort to alternative methods such as using natural sweeteners that have additional health benefits as well.
Also, read our series on Diabetes – Understanding the biggest epidemic of 21st century and how to manage Diabetes naturally.