The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners

Growing up my sister and I weren’t allowed to use the word hate. We were allowed to say we despise or dislike something, but the word “hate” was never uttered from our lips when our mother was around. As a grown adult woman I still seldomly toss around this word. But when it comes to the case of artificial sweeteners I think it fits the bill.

This post could start with science and end in a list of conspiracy theories. Although I strongly dislike super processed and over refined sugars – I have a special place in my heart for artificial sweeteners. Man, I hate them.

The bottom line is that we don’t know enough. Sure there are documented harmful effects on rats, and people swear they have withdrawals when coming off of diet soda, but the fact is there isn’t a large longitudinal cohort study done on humans.

I’m going to back off of the carcinogenic-chemical-laden-it’s-going-to-kill-you mentality and go a different route.

We need carbohydrates to survive. Our brain uses glucose as its primary source of fuel. Therefore sugar is literally essential to human function. Back in the day when I used to eat fat-free yogurts, granola bars, and other “sugar free” foods I remember I could eat a lot of it and still feel hungry. These foods give you that sweet taste without any accompanying calories.

So I was eating something that tasted sweet, my brain released dopamine, thus activating my reward center. I’m now happy as a clam. Simultaneously the hormone leptin should be released which would tell my brain that I’m full and calories have been ingested. But wait, I didn’t actually eat any calories.

My brain was activated because of the sweet taste, but nothing (calories) was actually consumed to give me energy. Since no actual sugar was ingested (only the taste of sugar) my body kept on signaling me that I needed to eat more. For most people this results in a carb craving. For me, that meant binge eating, and you better believe it wasn’t on fruits and vegetables. Basically it’s a vicious cycle of metabolic confusion.

[bctt tweet=”A Nutritionist’s Take on Artificial Sweeteners” username=”Alexandra_Eats”]

Although I will always advocate unprocessed sugars as much as possible, whether it’s refined white sugar or a spoon or raw organic honey, our body is able to use these calories for fuel. Both products will increase blood glucose and both products will help to fuel the brain. Artificial sweeteners won’t do either one. It’s a brain trick that ends up whooping your ass in the form of major cravings and a feeling of dissatisfaction. My take on sugar. Just eat the real thing.

Collage Credit: Alexandra Thomas

One Comment

  1. Terri Lynn February 22, 2016 at 10:14 am - Reply

    This makes so much sense but totally not how we are usually “scared” away from them. Thanks!

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