Artificial sweeteners have been around for decades, and their use has been controversial from the start - it actually becomes more controversial every day.
Some people use artificial sweeteners to “try” and help them lose weight. But long term studies have shown that the use of artificial sweeteners actually increases the chance of obesity and many chronic diseases.
If you use artificial sweeteners to avoid gaining weight, you’re not only wasting your time but also possibly causing future health problems, according to this study, which found that not only do aspartame and sucralose not prevent weight gain, they also raise the risk of disease in people who use them regularly.
Some research even shows long term use of artificial sweeteners leads to weight gain.
Recent research also shows about a 25% of children and more than 40% of adults in the U.S. consume artificial sweeteners daily - WOWZA!
Some people eat them, purposefully, with the mistaken belief that it’s better for their health. Many others, however, are unwittingly consuming them in everyday food products.
Artificial Sweeteners Hidden in Many Foods
Artificial sweeteners are hiding in many foods unbeknownst to most people. These products are not always clearly labeled and some are even labeled with misleading claims such as “natural ingredients”.
While we expect to find artificial sweeteners in foods labeled “light”, “lite”, “reduced sugars”, “diet”, and “sugar-free”, they also show up in “smart” popcorn, granola bars, yogurt, and even a popular pediatric electrolyte drink…
Artificial Sweeteners + Weight Gain
Studies also suggest long term use of artificial sweeteners leads to weight gain and chronic diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease.
Participants in a randomized trial who used artificial sweeteners as part of their weight loss program were shown to have a slight increase in their BMI, a 14% higher chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes, and a 32% higher chance of developing heart disease.
Why Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain
One reason, is because they trigger sugar cravings that a person eventually gives into. Another theory suggests that consuming foods with artificial sweeteners leads a person to feel “virtuous” and thus justified in overindulging later.
Animal studies show artificial sweeteners trick the brain into thinking you’ve eaten sugar, which can trigger inflammatory cascades, insulin release, and chronic disease.
Artificial sweeteners also alter the gut microbiome in a way that promotes obesity and diabetes.
The Functional Medicine Approach to Sweeteners
Time and again I see women naturally lose their cravings for sugar and starchy carbs when they eat a whole foods diet, high in healthy fats, that stabilizes blood sugar, lowers inflammation, and promotes brain health.
These women quickly lose their draw to using artificial sweeteners, because they end up losing their cravings for sweets. It’s a pretty “sweet” deal ;)
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to work with a Functional & Lifestyle Healthcare provider who looks into your unique needs as a client. I’m a strong advocate that everyone should have an individualized action plan to restoring their health.