Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

   For years we have been led to believe that artificial sweeteners are lower in calories and “better for us” than naturally occurring sugars. Why else would we see people suffering from obesity and diabetes reaching for Splenda or Diet Coke? The FDA even states that artificial sweeteners are safe in the amounts typically consumed.” People take these statements at face value. Sure, artificial sugars aren’t and immediately deadly poison, one-time consumption won’t result in a trip to the emergency room, but does that really make it “safe to consume”?
    Artificial sweeteners are anywhere from 300 (stevia) to 7,000 (aspartame) times sweeter than your average cane sugar. This is dangerous because it gets our taste buds accustomed to incredibly sweet things, which will only make us want more and more sugar in our foods and drinks. Artificial sweeteners also mess with your body’s natural ability to count calories. These sweeteners are low calorie, but high in sugar, meaning your body thinks that it is eating something “healthier” and doesn’t know when enough is enough. This will only aid in packing on the pounds. These zero-calorie sweeteners still cause your body to release insulin, causing blood sugar spikes. Susan Swithers, PhD at Purdue University has done several tests that show that artificial sweeteners also interfere with your body’s ability to produce a natural hormone that controls blood sugar levels. So not only do they raise your blood sugar, but they take away your body’s natural response to those high blood sugar levels. This will only make it harder to control your weight. Take David P. (58) for instance, 
    "Having struggled with being overweight for most of his adult life, things eventually took a turn for the worse. David’s blood tests revealed type 2 diabetes and horribly high bad cholesterol and triglycerides, among many other problems. He knew he was in trouble. Despite medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, including daily insulin injections, David’s weight continued to balloon up to 304 lbs. - his 'final wakeup call.'”
    This man’s story is just one of many people who are struggling with diabetes and obesity. "I couldn't open up a magazine, you couldn't read a newspaper, and you couldn't turn on the TV without hearing about the obesity epidemic in America." (Morgan Spurlock) This is one of the deadliest diseases that are affecting American’s today, it is important that we realize some of the causes.
    There are many claims that artificial sweeteners are cancer-causing. However, there are very few tests to support or deny this claim. For example, a study on rats done in 2012 by a non-profit organization led to CSPI to change artificial sweeteners from “safe” to “avoid”. This study found an increase in cancerous tumors in male and female rats throughout their lifetime. This study was done on a very small scale (not even close to the 24 oz. of soda consumed on average each day, per person), not enough to make any definite statements about artificial sweeteners potential cancer causing elements. However, it seems like it is best to avoid it, because we really don’t know the long term affects.
    Artificial sweeteners are also shown to greatly increase the risk of diabetes. People who drink diet soda are 67% more likely to develop diabetes than someone who doesn’t drink soda, and also more likely that regular soda drinkers. This could be for a variety of reasons. The diet soda itself and the artificial sweeteners therein could be the cause of increased diabetes. There is also the possibility that diet soda drinkers think they are consuming a lower calorie and “less harmful” drink, and therefore they think that they can go splurge on other high sugar, high calorie foods. Whatever the case, artificial sweeteners are the root problem to many health related obesity and diabetes issues.

"Patient Stories." - The Obesity Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.

Letter, Executive Editor Harvard Health. "Artificial Sweeteners: Sugar-free, but at What Cost? - Harvard Health Blog." Harvard Health Blog RSS. N.p., 2015. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.

OrganicLifeMag. "Trying To Lose Weight? Stay Away From Artificial Sweeteners." Rodale's Organic Life. N.p., 2015. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.

mercola. "Artificial Sweeteners Linked to a Cascade of Side Effects." Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.